Intel and AMD Not Supporting Linux: Why It Just Doesn’t Matter

It’s been an interesting couple days on the processor front, and many think that these past couple days haven’t been all together positive. While I can see where that impression may be gotten pretty easily, I’m here to say one very simple thing. It just doesn’t matter.

First, this is what happened.

Intel’s Clover Trail Won’t Work With Linux

On September 13th, as part of their Intel Developer Forum, Intel claimed that Clover Trail “is a Windows 8 chip” and that “the chip cannot run Linux”. Clover Trail is a new version of the Atom processor, which is used in tablets for the most part. Claiming the processor is “a Windows 8 chip” seems a bit odd considering Microsoft’s complete lack of a presence in the tablet market. Intel later clarified their position saying, “Intel has plans for another version of this platform directed at Linux/Android; however we are not commenting on the platform specifics or market segments that at this time. Stay tuned.” It’s unclear if this was the original intent, or a reaction.

AMD’s Hondo Processor Will Only Support Windows 8

Shortly after the announcement from Intel regarding the Clover Trail processor, AMD came out with their own claims regarding their own Hondo processor. Steve Belt (corporate VP of ultra low power products at AMD) said, “This is a Windows 8 product, only. We’re not doing Android on this platform, at least not now.” Again, the Hondo processor is a processor aimed at the tablet market, which Microsoft has zero presence in. He went on to say, “It is a conscious decision not to go after Android. We think the Windows 8 space has a lot of opportunity, there’s plenty of TAM [total addressable market] there for us to go at. So we don’t need to spread ourselves into other markets, we think Windows 8 is a great place to start. Down the road we may look at Android, right now we’re focused on Windows 8.”

Who Cares?

So the big question on everybody’s mind is, what does this mean for Linux and Android? The answer is much more simple than you’d imagine. What does it actually mean for Linux and Android? Answer: “Not a damn thing.”  While Intel claims that here will be an Android specific version of Clover Trail available shortly and AMD is banking on Microsoft, it really doesn’t matter.

Linux, and by extension Android, will run on whatever its developers want it to run on. Intel didn’t help out Linus Torvalds when he originally wrote the operating system in the 90s, and Linux developers don’t need Intel’s help now. I have full confidence that there is a Linux developer out there that could write a version of Linux that can run on my toaster if he or she so chose. Support from the company is not a requirement for Linux or Android.

Think I’m wrong? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


  1. I agree, completely.  Seriously, this really does not matter, especially when one considers that you can build Linux for just about any architecture.  The Linux community is always up a for a challenge and they will nail this new “Windows 8” processor.  

  2. Daniel Balasa

    what about the fact that the CPU could be “optimized” (maybe through internal arhitecture, bring some of the OS code inside the chip) to run windows ?!? it may run linux with no problem but the fact that is optimized for a specific type of platform will give INTEL a lot more means to control the software market ! Think I am wrong ?! 🙂

    • It’s a possibility, but with space inside the chip at a premium and with Windows being so bloated, I’m not sure getting something functional would be worth the cost. Technically, I could see Linux pulling this off significantly more easily than Windows.

  3. Maybe that’s the reason why Intel is not supporting Linux on this chip? They know pretty well the Linux community will find a way around it. Saves them money, perhaps? LOL!

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