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Intel offers iPhone-to-Atom toolkit

Intel has hinted at a new tool that will allow applications originally written for the ARM-based iPhone to run on its x86-based Atom processors, in an attempt to break in to the lucrative smartphone market.

The news comes as Intel head Paul Otellini bemoaned the late start that Intel has had in the portable processor marketplace, which it has ignored for years - much to ARM's delight. The British outfit now licences chip designs for the vast majority of devices, including Apple's iPhone and iPad series.

Intel isn't giving up, however: with a new range of Atom-branded processors designed with the ultra-low power draw required to make them tempting to smartphone manufacturers, it's hoping to bring the fight to ARM - and is releasing a software tool to get developers on its side.

According to Intel's vice president of software and services group, Doug Fisher, the tool will identify areas of code that will need to be changed in order to make applications written in Objective C for Apple's iOS platform run on Atom-based processors.

As well as driving adoption of its low-power Atom chips in the mobile market, use of the tool could help Intel encourage developers to port their applications over to AppUp, the company's Atom-oriented software store for Windows and Linux based netbooks and other portable devices.

While Intel's primary concern is for its processors, Fisher has also let slip an interesting example of his company spreading its bets: in an interview with IDG, Fisher stated that the company's MeeGo Linux platform, developed in conjunction with Nokia, would be released for ARM-based processors.

Clearly, not even Intel's vice president of software is confident that the company can catch up to ARM in the mobile markets.