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Intel: Clover Trail Will Support Linux At Another Time

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 21 comments

Intel has raised some eyebrows by confirming that Clover Trail, the Atom chip targeted at tablets and subnotebooks, will not support Linux.

However, the company said that just because Clover Trail will not be supporting Linux initially, it does not mean that there won't be a Clover Trail version for Linux.

In a statement sent out to media, Intel reiterated that the "current version of Clover Trail supports Windows 8 tablets." However, Intel has plans to extend Clover Trail to Linux/Android, Intel spokeswoman Kathryn Gill told us. It is unclear how this chip will differ from the processor built for Windows 8. Gill said that Intel is "not commenting on the platform specifics or market segments that at this time."

"Stay tuned", she said.

Of course, Intel's strategy makes sense and should not be surprising. Intel needs to court Microsoft with a Windows 8-tailored processor and give traditional x86 tablet and subnotebook buyers a good reason not to defect to ARM territory. Intel needs a processor that looks compelling next to Nvidia's Tegra and rival chips from Qualcomm and Samsung. The thin line between sub-notebooks and tablets is a critical battlefront for both ARM and Intel. Intel cannot afford to give up notebooks, while ARM needs tablets to stand its ground. It is reasonable for Intel to focus on Windows 8 first and then look at Linux next.

 

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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    ddpruitt , September 17, 2012 8:51 PM
    Why would Intel want to court Microsoft? If Intel really wants to compete with ARM they need to have chips that attack on all fronts, not just the niche that Microsoft is going after. Doesn't sound particularly smart to me.

    Ahh wait, should have read who the author is first.
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    ddpruitt , September 17, 2012 8:51 PM
    Why would Intel want to court Microsoft? If Intel really wants to compete with ARM they need to have chips that attack on all fronts, not just the niche that Microsoft is going after. Doesn't sound particularly smart to me.

    Ahh wait, should have read who the author is first.
  • 6 Hide
    jhansonxi , September 17, 2012 8:53 PM
    It's x86 so Linux should function without changes but there may be some power management features that the Linux kernel can't take advantage of.
  • Display all 21 comments.
  • 6 Hide
    blazorthon , September 17, 2012 9:03 PM
    jhansonxiIt's x86 so Linux should function without changes but there may be some power management features that the Linux kernel can't take advantage of.


    There might also be performance optimizations for Windows 8 that Linux isn't made to take advantage of and Intel doesn't want to jump through hops for that right now given that they already have other CPUs that support Android and other Linux distributions. However, I admit in that I'd be surprised if Linux doesn't find a way even before official Intel support for it.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2012 9:07 PM
    This is no different than Apple getting Thunderbolt first. Intel is giving MS an advantage to get favor from the OS maker much like Intel did for Apple. These are the corporate games you play.
  • 2 Hide
    danwat1234 , September 17, 2012 9:12 PM
    What does it mean that it can't support linux? Compile it to X86, there you go !?
  • 1 Hide
    aaron88_7 , September 17, 2012 9:25 PM
    Isn't software supposed to support hardware, not the other way around?
  • 4 Hide
    blazorthon , September 17, 2012 9:28 PM
    aaron88_7Isn't software supposed to support hardware, not the other way around?


    danwat1234What does it mean that it can't support linux? Compile it to X86, there you go !?


    If Intel doesn't make a driver for this CPU that is compatible with Linux (assuming that Intel made changes that would break current Linux compatibility) and doesn't give anyone the needed info to develop one, then there's nothing that could be done.
  • 5 Hide
    boiler1990 , September 17, 2012 9:44 PM
    There are some hardware optimizations being made for Windows. Probably nothing too major, but it will take a while to develop for Linux (or, possibly, Linux needs to develop to use the optimized hardware).

    Their original statement said Linux wouldn't be supported 'initially' but all the tech sites blew it way out of proportion.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2012 10:00 PM
    It's all about the graphic drivers!! Clover Trail has a GPU licensed from Imagination, which is extremelly anti-open source, so intel cannot open the drivers, and it would take too long and cost too much to write an entire driver from the ground up. see: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTE4NDY
    Intel is already fixing that with valleyview atoms, which will have an in house GPU, similar to ivy brigde's which already have a top notch open source driver.

  • -1 Hide
    cookoy , September 17, 2012 10:02 PM
    Maybe intel doesn't want to be humiliated when people start comparing android on arm vs android on atom.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2012 10:11 PM
    Cookoy, people have already compared Android on ARM to Android on Atom. Android is it's own deal by the way and not just Linux. Anonymous is correct about the Imagination tech and the open source issue. That is definitely part of the problem but not the whole problem. Why this is a big deal is beyond me. Who would want to run just plain old Linux on a tablet is beyond me. Win8 is tailored for the tablet form factor. It makes sense to optimize for it.
  • 2 Hide
    JonathanR , September 17, 2012 10:38 PM
    CPUGuyIII Who would want to run just plain old Linux on a tablet is beyond me. Win8 is tailored for the tablet form factor. It makes sense to optimize for it.


    Linux, being as flexible as it is, is bound to have plenty of distros tailor-made for tablets, and if not then someone will start working on one. That being said, the more important point imo is that the atom processors are used in netbooks. The incompatibility of these processors GPUs with Linux is the sole reason I dont own a netbook as of right now. Its just not acceptable to use a power-hungry windows OS on a netbook instead of a streamlined optimized to the point Arch-Linux distro or similar.
  • 2 Hide
    PreferLinux , September 17, 2012 11:13 PM
    blazorthonIf Intel doesn't make a driver for this CPU that is compatible with Linux (assuming that Intel made changes that would break current Linux compatibility) and doesn't give anyone the needed info to develop one, then there's nothing that could be done.

    The CPU doesn't need a "driver". The CPU will work fine on Linux, most likely as well as with Windows. It is almost definitely just graphics drivers, which are a major problem for PowerVR graphics.

    cookoyMaybe intel doesn't want to be humiliated when people start comparing android on arm vs android on atom.

    Ever hear of Medfield?
  • 0 Hide
    classzero , September 18, 2012 12:12 AM
    I will not support Intel then, looks like I have to switch to the dark side and go AMD.
  • 2 Hide
    sixdegree , September 18, 2012 1:02 AM
    If AMD is any good, they should capitalize on this and release their own brazos-tier x86 mobile cpu that support windows and linux and gain massive market share.
  • 0 Hide
    blazorthon , September 18, 2012 1:59 AM
    PreferLinuxThe CPU doesn't need a "driver". The CPU will work fine on Linux, most likely as well as with Windows. It is almost definitely just graphics drivers, which are a major problem for PowerVR graphics.


    CPUs do need drivers and unless you have one of these CPUs to prove that Linux will run on it at this time, you have no clue if the CPU itself would have trouble with Linux. That the problem is probably more related to the graphics is a good point, but it doesn't mean that there couldn't have been changes in the CPU that don't agree with (current versions of) Linux (at this time).
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 18, 2012 8:12 AM
    The issue is with the special power state optimizations. They are not currently integrated with the Linux kernel and at this time the details of the power management features are not being released to the Linux community. This looks to be the re-emergence of Wintel all over again. Take a deep breath and realize that with the plethora of linux developers around the world that it will not take long to find work arounds. The real news from Intel is that it is specifically not including the Linux community,....which screams that Microsoft is pushing Intel to create the chip just for them. I myself am interested to see if there are any more linux destabiliziing goodies embedded on the chip,....or worse that there are a bunch of ridiculous patents that keep an OS other than Win8 from legally being distributed for it.

    I have to agree with the other posts pointing out that AMD has a serious opportunity here,....there is plenty of room for them to slip in through the cracks and take a foothold. Microsoft is beginning to see the percentages of windows users to overall slide,...maybe not drastically but it is a slide nonetheless. Intel at the same time has been unable to get a strong position in the tablet and mobile phone markets and see's a joint-semi-monopolistic venture with MS as a way to do so. At the end of the day what Intel and MS are doing is bad for consumers.
  • 2 Hide
    john_4 , September 18, 2012 10:16 AM
    Looks like Intel and MS have been sleeping together again.
  • -1 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , September 18, 2012 11:02 AM
    Just because Intel makes a version of Clover Trail that quote-unquote works with Linux, it doesn't mean that HP will make an Envy x2 with that chip, or that Acer will make a Linux version of the W510...in which case, what's the point of making the processor? Frankly, this doesn't make a bit of sense.
  • 1 Hide
    ojas , September 18, 2012 11:47 AM
    cookoyMaybe intel doesn't want to be humiliated when people start comparing android on arm vs android on atom.

    You evidently haven't read Medfield reviews.
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