Intel’s Linux-Proof Clover Trail Chip Is Doomed, Says Perens
Power management not available to open source developers
Open source expert Bruce Perens has said that Intel Clover Trail processor is a dead end – and not just because Intel intentionally made this a the “Windows-onl”y” chip, on which Linux systems will be difficult to construct.
The Clover Trail processor, part of Intel’s Atom family intended for low power use in mobile systems, has been designed with power management features that should allow Windows systems to run longer – but these are not being shared with open source developers, says Perens in a blog post, which says that Intel has killed the chip.
Intel Clover Trail a dead end?
Clover Trail is said to include power-management that will make the Atom run longer under Windows. But that power management is not magic. “There is no great secret about shutting down hardware that isn’t being used,” said Perens, pointing out that later chips from Intel and others will offer these features to Linux developers.
Clover Trail, according to Perens, is not the right architecture for portable devices with limited power budgets. Intel has tried to address this by building a hidden core within the chip that actually runs RISC instructions, while providing the CISC instruction set that ia32 programs like Microsoft Windows expect. But this doesn’t approach ARM’s power efficiency.
Clover Trail is crippled by PowerVR graphics, also known as SGX and Intel GMA 500. Intel doesn’t own the PowerVR architecture, it has just licensed it for Clover Trail and a few previous processors. There is a lot of bad blood between Imagination Technologies, owner of PowerVR and Linux developers, so Perens might be grinding an ancient axe here.
Clover Trail is destined for a Windows 8 tablet, and has been created with Microsoft as a partner – but Perens believes this is doomed to fail. He remains hopeful for Intel’s Valley View chip , which does away with PowerVR, replacing it with Intel’s own graphics. Intel promises good Linux support for this architecture.
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