Business, Hardware, Software Programs

ARM opens Android Developer Center

Recently, we spoke with James Bruce, ARM’s Mobile Solutions Segment Manager, about their android developers center. The Solution Center for Android is a resource for designers and developers of ARM technology-based products running on Android, the open source platform from the Open Handset Alliance.

Bruce said that ARM will havARM is serious about getting developer community on board their partners? productse a single Android location similar to their Mali Developers Center. Both sites have all the necessary tools, sample code, documentation, developers? platforms, along with forums and blogs for users to meet other Android and Mali developers. Bruce said that more than 35 members of the ARM Connected Community have joined together demonstrating the strength of the ARM ecosystem, including companies such as Broadcom, Creative Labs [ZiiLabs] nVidia, Qualcomm, ST Ericsson, Texas Instruments and many more.

Android, because it is open source, costs developers nothing to immediately start work on their own hardware ideas. This benefit differs from Windows Mobile where it costs developers an annual subscription of "just $99 plus taxes, if applicable."

At the Solution Center for Android, there are turnkey developers like Mistral or complete software solutions providers such as Thundersoft and Mentor Graphics. Software development tools are available from Viosoft and Lauterbach.

Kevin Smith, VP Segment Marketing, ARM, said, "The Android platform represents a fundamental change in the open source ecosystem." ARM wants to provide device manufacturers with excellent development solutions. Smith continues: "The Solution Center for Android serves as a one-stop guide to provide developers with the tools and information they need to create innovative devices with applications that satisfy consumers? needs." 

The Solution Center for Android site includes a link to a low-cost developers? board. The BeagleBoard is only $150, instead of the thousands of dollars most development platforms cost.

ARM Development Platforms - more expensive and complete product from ZiiLabs or BeagleBoard for $149
ARM Development Platforms – more expensive and complete product from ZiiLabs or BeagleBoard for $150

The story about BeagleBoard’s creation goes something like this: "a hardware guy in strategic marketing supporting [TI’s] OMAP customers, asked what could we do with a board based on the highest performance ARM-based system-on-chip available today, if it was small and powered via USB." The story continues: "with the simple theme of supporting standard interfaces and getting out of the way, those who would like to collaborate on extending the BeagleBoard platform are encouraged to do it in any way they’d like." TI knows a lot about ARM processors since they have over five billion of them, which is fully one-third of the fifteen billion ARM processors which have been shipped.

In November 2007, the Open Handset Alliance,  a consortium of companies which includes Texas Instruments, Broadcom, Google, HTC, Intel, LG, Marvell Technology Group, Motorola, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Sprint Nextel,and T-Mobile was unveiled hoping to develop open standards for mobile devices. Their first product was Android, a mobile device platform built on the Linux kernel version 2.6.

Android was written for the ARM architecture and Android 2.0 was launched on high-performance Cortex-A8 processor designs and has been tested extensively on major handset solutions. The first phone to run the Android operating system was the HTC Dream, released in October 2008 and sold in the US by T-mobile. Some of the phones using the ARM Cortex-A8 IP core are: Apple’s iPhone 3GS, Acer Liquid, Palm Pre, Motorola Droid, Samsung i8910, Sony Ericsson Satio, and Nokia N900.

In October 2009, Gartner Inc predicted that by 2012, Android would become the world’s second most popular smartphone platform, pushing iPhone into 3rd place, and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile down to 4th place. Symbian OS, found predominantly outside the US on Nokia, holds the number one spot. ARM is looking to knock them out of that position. Their Solution Center for Android developer location will clearly make it easier to get started building a hardware attachment that will work on literally millions of devices over the next three years.