Lots of buried assembler code
"What Google will officially support versus what can be done with some smart engineering is still unclear," said Keith Higgins, vice president of marketing for Aricent.
"I think there will be a revenue-sharing model to help with the build out of a 4G wireless infrastructure, but that's just my speculation," said Higgins. "Google is fundamentally in the billboard space and mobile devices give Google many more billboards," he added.
Android leads a growing crop of mobile open source environments as the first available and most broadly supported of the group, according to Bruce of ARM. Limo is not readily downloadable as a complete application stack, Moblin is x86 focused, and Nokia's Maemo was until recently aimed at relatively large tablet systems, he said.
However, Android offers its own challenges. For example, it is targeted solely at smart phones, a limited number of processors and has not direct support for applications written in C languages.
"You can pull the code down today and it may not even build," said Matt Locke, a director of product development for Mentor Graphics who presented the company's Android tools at a recent ARM conference.
Mentor, Aricent and others have been working to port Android to a variety of chip sets. They are also working to build into the code support for C programs, hardware acceleration, new display sizes, resolutions and other features.
Higgins of Aricent said it has finished much of the work for a variety of ports, including one to MIPS, as well as support for high definition resolutions.
Bruce of ARM said the porting work alone is substantial. Android contains an estimated 1,200 files of assembler code written for the ARM core, he said. In addition as many as 20,000 lines of the Linux kernel code in Android is written in assembler language for ARM.