MIPS: Android remains processor neutral
Swift posted a blog on Thursday (March 31) responding to reports that Google was considering standardizing its Android operating system on the ARM architecture (see Report: Google may standardize Android on ARM). In the blog Swift states that reports had been misleading in that they suggested Android antifragmentation moves would only focus on the ARM architecture and had implied they would be exclusive of other processor architectures.
In the blog Swift says Google’s moves continue to be architecture neutral and that there is an Android Native Development Kit (NDK) for each major processor architecture that supports Android, including those from MIPS, Intel and ARM.
Swift goes on to say that antifragmentation efforts, as well as being inclusive of MIPS, Intel and ARM, are necessary because fragmentation has started to happen within the ARM-based Android community.
Swift argues that ARM, rather than being the solution to fragmentation amongst Android platforms, is part of the problem because of the variations of the ARM instruction set architecture implemented by silicon vendors. Swift states that while some Android applications run on one ARM-based vendor’s silicon they do not necessarily run on another vendor’s ARM-based silicon. "Google’s anti-fragmentation program is intended to remedy this situation as Android moves forward," said Swift.
Swift confirms that platform certification is part of the "antifragmentation" program and that OEMs, silicon vendors and architectural licensees are being asked to sign an antifragmentation agreement.
"As a part of Google’s antifragmentation efforts, each processor vendor — including ARM, MIPS and Intel — must sign the Android antifragmentation clause to gain early access to sources in the future. And Google has defined a standard set of Android interfaces that work across all processor architectures — including those from ARM, Intel and MIPS — with the aim of maintaining application compatibility and portability."
In the blog Swift states: "Google invited MIPS to participate. We are currently in discussions with Google regarding the antifragmentation agreement. MIPS has also made its NDK/ABI (application binary interface) available to Google and is working with Google to have that included as part of the Android toolchain. MIPS is also in discussions with Google for future early source access."