Chip giants in pact to ensure digital revolution is open source

3 Jun 201018 Views

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Chip manufacturers IBM, Samsung and Texas Instruments have established a new software engineering foundation aimed at improving Linux distribution such as Android, Ubuntu and MeeGo in new consumer devices like smartphones, tablet computers and digital TVs.

The consortium, called Linaro consists of ARM, Freescale Semiconductor, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments.

The not-for-profit open source software engineering company will be dedicated to enhancing open source innovation for the next wave of always-connected, always-on computing. Linaro’s work will help developers and manufacturers provide consumers with more choice, more responsive devices and more diverse applications on Linux-based systems.

Its chief aim will be to accelerate innovation among Linux developers on the most advanced semiconductor SoCs (System-on-Chip). The current wave of "always-connected, always-on" devices requires complex SoCs to achieve the performance and low power consumers demand.

Traditionally, the Linux and open-source software communities focused on solving the software problems of enterprise and computing markets with a limited choice of processor platforms.

The open source community is transitioning to create advanced Web-centric consumer devices using high profile open source based distributions and a wide range of high-performance, low-power ARM-based SoCs. Linaro will make it easier and quicker to develop advanced products with these high profile distributions by creating software commonality across semiconductor SoCs, from multiple companies.

"IBM believes that leadership with Linux solutions begins with effective collaboration in the community, and IBM’s ten year history of working with the Linux community has resulted in a strong, mutually beneficial relationship," said Daniel Frye, vice president, open systems development, IBM.

"IBM’s ongoing collaboration has contributed to the widespread adoption of Linux throughout the data center. We are strong proponents of working with partners such as ARM to further our commitment, ensuring Embedded Linux is the leading platform for innovation in the mobile and consumer electronics markets."

Consumer benefits

In addition to providing a focal point for open source software developers, consumers will benefit by the formation of Linaro. Linaro’s outputs will accelerate the abundance of new consumer products that use Linux-based distributions such as Android, LiMo, MeeGo, Ubuntu and webOS in conjunction with advanced semiconductor SoCs to provide the new features consumers desire at the lowest possible power consumption.

"The dramatic growth of open source software development can now be seen in internet-based, always-connected mobile and consumer products," said Tom Lantzsch, executive officer, Linaro. "Linaro will help accelerate this trend further by increasing investment on key open source projects and providing industry alignment with the community to deliver the best Linux-based products for the benefit of the consumer."

  The company’s first release is planned for November 2010 and will provide performance optimisations for SoCs based on the ARM Cortex-A processor family.

In addition to ARM and IBM, four of the world’s leading application processor companies, Freescale, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments, will align open source engineering efforts within Linaro.

"Open source has become an engine for innovation in the smart phone and consumer electronics market," said Teppo Hemia, vice president, 3G Multimedia Platforms Business Unit of ST-Ericsson." Being an active contributor in the open source community, we are excited to be one of the founding members of Linaro and expect our combined efforts to accelerate the development of Linux-based devices."

By John Kennedy

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.