Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AMD joins MeeGo

Earlier this year, Intel and Nokia announced a new joint project called MeeGo. Behind this slightly funny-sounding name was an open-source OS based on Linux and aimed at mobile platforms, such as tablets, netbooks and high-end smartphones. Actually, Intel and Nokia merged their Moblin and Maemo projects (respectively) to create MeeGo. This came as a bit of a surprise, because Nokia was using ARM chips at the time—and actually still is, as far as I'm aware—not x86. Nokia probably intends to use Atom in its products at some point, and that was the motivation behind MeeGo. As for Intel, the aim was to develop a new mobile OS highly optimized for Atom, in order to have something that actually runs well on a such a slow processor.

And in a surprising turn of events, AMD has just joined the MeeGo project. This is surprising because MeeGo was perceived as an Intel thing, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. AMD is about to release a new APU (Zacate/Ontario, or Zacario as I like to call it) and would greatly benefit from a mobile OS highly tuned for it, even though it seems to run Windows 7 fairly smoothly. Plus, AMD has been pretty vocal lately about embracing open standards, and in that sense, their joining MeeGo is a big deal, because it effectively makes it a PC standard: both major x86 players are now behind it. Since Nokia intends to use it on its smartphones, ARM processors are supported as well, and of course optimized for. So you could even say it's now a mobile computing standard.

MeeGo still has a long way to go before it can get serious market share, but with support from both Intel and AMD, it could turn out to be the Android of netbooks… except Google is working on just that, and calling it Chrome OS. It will be interesting to see how things turn out, but it's safe to say that mobile users will "soon" have a couple more interesting alternatives.

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