Which hardware will be the first to support Google’s next version of Android, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich? Ever since Google IO, plenty of rumors and speculation have suggested that Texas Instruments’ OMAP4 might be the lead platform, but little evidence has surfaced to support this theory. After spending the last couple of weeks trying to dig up more info, it finally looks like we can confirm OMAP4 is the reference platform for Ice Cream Sandwich.
Why being the lead platform matters
Google’s Andy Rubin has previously explained how his team develops the future versions of Android. In an interview last year Andy Rubin said, “What we do is pick our partners, a semiconductor partner, an operator, and an OEM and then combine them all together. This is the device that engineers have on their desk when they come in the morning.”
Being the lead platform for a major Android release is important because it means the first devices to support it will be based on that hardware. For example, NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 platform was the lead platform for Android 3.0 and pretty much every Honeycomb tablet uses their processor.
If TI’s hardware is the lead platform for Ice Cream Sandwich, then you can bet that the first devices to support it (like the much-hyped Nexus 3) will sport an OMAP4 processor.
For technical information about OMAP4 check out TI’s platform overview.
All the evidence points to Texas Instrments
Rumors suggest that Google will use the latest Linux 3.0 kernel for Ice Cream Sandwich. If you go browsing around the Android Open Source Project site, you will find many recent commits in the omap.gitpath that reference the 3.0 kernel. The updates have been occurring daily and include contributions from employees of TI, Google, Imagination Technologies, and Broadcom.
This activity matches exactly what we witnessed when Google was doing the bring-up of Android 3.0 on the Tegra 2 platform.
Texas Instruments might have also spilled the beans with an e-mail the company’s PR representative is sending out today. CNET posted a promotional image that TI will use for events “in the fall” which includes their Android mascot holding hands with another Android character who looks like an Ice Cream Sandwich.
We reached out to a TI representative to see if they could provide further information and they responded, “The TI team cannot publicly confirm or deny any specific involvement with Ice Cream Sandwich.”
Can you say Nexus Three?
Recent rumors I posted have suggested that several devices were still being evaluated to become the next Nexus. We now know that the smartphone version of NVIDIA’s Kal-El has been pushed back to 2012 and our sources still tell us Qualcomm does not have access to Ice Cream Sandwich, so it looks like the OMAP4 platform is the only option if Google is still aiming for a Q4 release like they planned.
With OMAP4 at the center of the next Nexus, the rumored Samsung device is most likely what we can expect in stores this holiday season. However, LG is also rumored to have submitted a new prototype to Google that features an OMAP4 processor, so there’s a small chance we could see that device instead.
For those of you that were already planning on buying the “Nexus 3″, what are your thoughts on the OMAP4? Do you hope Google goes with Samsung or LG?