MIPS ports Android, shows embedded gadgets

The move marks the expansion of the OS and indicates growing industry interest in its use

MIPS Technologies showed off devices based on a version of Google's Android platform modified for MIPS chip architecture at the Computex exhibition in Taipei on Wednesday.

MIPS earlier announced the availability of its Android port, which it expects to be used mainly in embedded household products.

The events mark an expansion of Android's use into embedded devices, and growing industry interest in running Android on different processor cores.

Android normally runs on Arm processors and was made for mobile phones, though a string of PC makers have announced plans to offer netbooks running Android.

Acer this week showed it had ported Android to run on x86 cores as well, in cooperation with a Taiwanese firmware provider. At Computex, Acer displayed an upcoming Android netbook with an Intel Atom microprocessor, the first of its type to be shown.

MIPS displayed a home media player running Android on a MIPS core at a press event at the exhibition. It also showed a 10.4-inch LCD display with a keyboard and a built-in computer running Android that connects to the Internet with Wi-Fi.

MIPS believes Android could become the standard platform for embedded home devices, said Kevin Kitagawa, MIPS director of strategic marketing.

Android includes standards like predefined libraries that make it easier for small developers of embedded products to use than Linux, the current standard, he said.

MIPS has a strong customer base in home electronics, where it claims 75 percent of the market for processor cores in Blu-ray Disc players, Kitagawa said.

Android fits well with devices such as television set-top boxes and digital picture frames partly because they could download applications from Google's Android Market, another MIPS representative said.

Porting Android to MIPS was difficult and required substantial recoding, said Matthew Locke, chief operations officer at Embedded Alley, the company that worked with MIPS to port Android to the RMI platform.

But Android could succeed as a platform partly because applications are easy to make for it using Java, a rich development tool, Locke said.

(Dan Nystedt in Taipei contributed to this report.)

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Owen Fletcher

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