Intel unveils 64-bit kernel for Android 4.4 KitKat


Intel has announced that they’ve completed early work on an Android 4.4 KitKat kernel for their chipsets that supports 64-bit computing architecture. What does that mean?


Well, 64-bit phones won’t suddenly be gushing out of the gate tomorrow or even by the end of the year, but Intel has effectively positioned themselves to be ready for a 64-bit era should Google ever get around to making that a reality at all of the other layers of Android.

With this release, the company ported, validated and tested the Android Open Source code on [Intel Architecture], taking on the work that developers typically would need to do on their own. This release will provide the ecosystem with 64-bit kernel support for development of next-generation devices.

With that, Intel has also publicly committed to bringing regular releases of Android code for their architecture to make it easier on OEMs and developers to make new generations of hardware with the latest versions of Android.

Intel isn’t the first manufacturer to begin doing work, as ARM was found to be adding 64-bit support to their architecture as early as November 2013. In fact, ARM is so far along that Qualcomm has already released a chipset based on the new specifications, with the Snapdragon 410 being ready and available for use.


All of this doesn’t mean much to the end user at this current point in time because Google still has to do the work of bringing 64-bit to the application frameworks and runtimes that make up the entirety of Android. Still, you’ll be glad all of this work is being done ahead of time instead of waiting for chipset vendors to catch up with Google.

Now it’s just up to Google to get the ball completely moving on a 64-bit Android (which could enable the use of more than 3GB of RAM, as well as other benefits at the lower level of computing). Let’s hope we hear something on that front at Google’s upcoming I/O developers’ conference.

[via Intel]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Now this. THIS is news. Enough of Samsung and HTC.

    1. Can you even name a mainstream phone that uses Intel? I can only think about the RAZRi, which was international only. We will see when it’s an actual SOC in a flagship device.

      1. I’ve been trying to get one of those. Expenseive, even years later. That being said, the more companies working on it, the morel ikely.

        1. I don’t mind Intel. They make the processors for almost every device in my house: Pentium processor in my desktop, i5 dual core processor in my laptop, and a Baytrail/Atom processor in my Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet. Anything besides Qualcomm and Nvidia in mobile devices works for me. Qualcomm is not energy efficient and Nvidia has no use in mobile devices.

          1. qualcomm is more energy effiecient for the power than anyone else out there… that’s why they have all that market share

          2. +1 for Intel. Intel makes the best microprocessors for computers, period. They’ve been the processing powerhouse king for many years, with no signs of slowing down.

  2. I can get down on this type of article… Thanks for reporting

  3. Cool, maybe now ARM is ready for desktop/servers where 4GB is relevant? The only thing mobile devices will care about is the ARMv8 register improvements/etc for the near future, which of course is significant by itself.

    I think it’s fair to say the next major version of Android (starting with an L) will fully support 64-bit anyway.

  4. They’re great at making chips, but terrible at making products. Hopefully they can get past their ego and contribute their work back to the Android mainline. Then people might actually start assembling these things (if not the typical Intel overpricing).

    1. Lays sometimes does the same thing as they’re great at making chips but not very good at doing much else.

  5. This update would allow Android to utilize more than 4GB of ram… not 3GB as incorrectly reported in the post.

    1. How does it allow 4? I’m not an arm processing expert by any means, but only 3.5GB was usable under the x86 environment before. I thought it was always some kind of hard limit.

      1. Super simple answer? 64-bit allows over 4GB because registers store binary data. For 32-bit, 2^32 equals 4,294,967,296 bytes (minus 1 for signed) or roughly 4 gigabytes. Whereas 2^64 is unimaginably larger (1×10^19 for exabytes of data in theory) and will probably be used for centuries even given moore’s law as it is over a billion times larger.

    2. Actually android has been able to support up to 1TB of ram for a couple years now due to LPAE (Large Physical Address Extension) which is just a work around, translating the 40-bit physical memory addresses to 32-bit.

      So that leaves two main benifets to 64bit:
      1) better register performance, which essentially only impacts AES and other encryption/decryption performance.
      2) ARMv8, which is just the next instruction set and has nothing to do with 64bit technically, but is accompanying the transition.

  6. This means I’ll be able to play Gamecube games on my phone and I can play Yugioh: The Falsebound Kingdom and Geist. I liked the concept of Geist. You were once human, stumbled upon something with your partner and had your soul[?] taking out of you.

    So you possess things as you find out more about this company and of course you get your soul back. It’s a 3rd person game and 1st person game. Depending on your current state.

    1. I can already do that on my Note 3.

      1. You goin’ hand over that Gamecube emulator!! You say you can do this already!? I haven’t stumbled upon a Gamecube emulator. How is this possible!?

        You tell me where you got it, now… please? LoL!!

    2. Yugi-Oh sucks even more than Yogi Bear does (and that’s saying something). Pokemon, Digimon, Yugi-Oh, all of ’em. Weird, creepy crap that’s not entertaining at all.

  7. Good, now unveil one with intel graphics. Then we can finally have a phone with everything in the mainline kernel.

  8. Funny thing is most people don’t need more than 3 GB of ram on a android phone yet. This is why Google hasn’t added 64-bit support and you run into the problem no apps support 64-bit. And with KitKat supporting less ram and using less and next version 4.5 is said to use even less no point yet.

  9. I’d love to get an Intel 64bit phone I can duelboot android and a second mouse/keyboard os. So far I haven’t seen any devices that can do this quite right. I think our tech is just a little shy yet.

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