Nvidia, Freescale Line Up Behind Android

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Graphics developer Nvidia and chipmaker Freescale have both announced support for Google’s open source Android platform, moves which may significantly expand the ecosystem of Android-powered devices and services in the future. Although Android development so far has focussed on mobile phones, the platform was always intended to scale to many types of Internet-enabled mobile devices.

First up, Freescale has announced its has expanded its i.MX515 processor and netbook reference design to include support for Android, as operating systems from Phoenix Technologies (HyperSpace) and Xandros’ customized Linux distributions. Freescale also collaborated with Wavecom and Option to add 3G connectivity options.

“Demand from third parties to partner with Freescale in the growing netbook market has been tremendous,” said Freescale consumer segment marketing director Glen Burchers, in a statement. “Freescale is taking dead aim at the netbook space by assembling an outstanding portfolio of technologies and partners.” Freescale estimates netbook products based on its i.MX515 design will be available in the second half of 2009, offering fast performance, “eye-popping” graphics and up to eight hours of battery life.

In the meantime, graphics developer Nvidia has announced Android support for its Tegra processors, potentially bringing high-definition video and high-performance graphics to Android-powered mobile Internet devices (MIDs). Using the Tegra processor, Android device developers can create rich interfaces that leverage online and locally-stored media while still staying within the power consumption and processor limits of a portable device.

“Nvidia and Google are both working to unlock the visual computing potential of mobile devices and this announcement matches the power of Tegra with the innovation of the Android platform,” stated Nvidia’s general manager for mobile business Michael Rayfield, in a statement. “Nvidia will be working within the Open Handset Alliance to continually strengthen the ability of Android to tap into advanced mobile graphics and media acceleration to make interaction with handheld technology more intuitive and instinctive.”

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