Google is currently coding an x86 iteration of its popular Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4) operating system for mobile devices powered by AMD and Intel chips.
An early release of the OS is currently available here, but bear in mind that the x86 version of Ice Cream Sandwich is still in its "no frills" stage.
Meaning, a number of important features still aren’t functional, including audio, camera, ethernet and Intel hardware acceleration.
So what does work? Well, Google has enabled Wifi, multitouch, OpenGL ES and hardware acceleration for AMD’s Radeon chipset.
Google has also put together an ISO for tablets powered by AMD’s Brazos chipset, which is quite an interesting development, as way back at IDF 2011, both Intel and Mountain View touted a new era of Android cooperation between the two industry heavyweights.
In contrast, AMD seemed quite content with taking the BlueStacks route, at least until a proper Android port was made available.
So why is Google now (ostensibly) making AMD a priority when it comes to Ice Cream Sandwich?
Although there are obviously multiple answers to the question, one can speculate that Intel is probably quite focused on designing an x86 Windows 8 tablet that offers long battery life while providing legacy support for the masses.
Whether or not such a tablet will actually hit the market anytime soon and claim significant share is a different story altogether, but Intel’s mobile marketing message these days seems to be all about Windows 8 and legacy capabilities.
While Android may still sound good to Santa Clara, the OS isn’t exactly a priority and may be categorized as a backup plan or an "option" for those fanbois interested in dual-booting their tablets. But AMD - which lacks a virtually inexhaustible source of funding like Intel - clearly needs a quick mobile fix now.
Android the fastest route there? Maybe, but it is worth noting that Android tablets have thus far struggled to gain market share as Apple’s iPad continues to reign supreme. As such, Windows 8 might be a better tablet bet for both companies.