An x86-friendly version of Android Gingerbread will be available for Intel’s Atom E series in 2012.
Although the e-series CPUs are media and embedded focused, the build should function on Menlow, Oaktrail, Moorestown and possibly even Cedar Trail chipsets.
According to CarryPad, the x86 iteration may be based on an open source version of Gingerbread that third parties can easily adapt for use in Atom-powered mobile devices.
If so, it could certainly go a long way in helping to pave the way for Oaktrail tablets capable of running Android – although Honeycomb, rather than Gingerbread, is the most current stable Android release for tablets, while the unifying Ice Cream Sandwich is slated for launch in either October or November.
As Nicole Scott of Netbook News points out, Intel previously confirmed that its chipsets will support Android, with a small number of manufacturers installing the OS on dual-boot tablets. However, Scott speculated that the move might be “too little to late” for Santa Clara.
Then again, Android tablet have yet to pose a serious threat to Apple’s wildly popular iPad, so Intel’s best bet may be to wait for the launch of Windows 8 in 2012 before seriously kicking off its mobile offensive.
Of course, it remains unclear how an Intel-based x86 Windows 8 tablet will actually measure up against an ARM-powered Windows 8 device in terms of specs, performance, battery life and price.
While x86 tablets will likely have an advantage in terms of raw horsepower, the average consumer is probably more focused on battery life and price.