Freescale Takes Aim at Netbook Market with an Arsenal of Open Source Support

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 16, 2009

On Monday, Freescale Semiconductor announced its further plans to forge ahead into the netbook market. Freescale, a major manufacturer of embedded semiconductors, entered the netbook arena in January with its i.MX515 chip and a comprehensive netbook reference design featuring the new-to-ARM Ubuntu Linux platform.

Ubuntu isn't the only open source option for Freescale, however. The company has announced it will also support the Android platform, Xandros Linux, and HyperSpace, an instant-on Linux-based environment.

It seems Freescale (and at least a few OEM system builders) are as doubtful as we are that Windows 7 will drive Linux from the netbook market. The Freescale processor and the open platforms complement each other quite well -- the chip is fast, easy on batteries, and inexpensive, so adding a low-cost, lightweight, yet highly functional operating system is a logical way to showcase the best of both hardware and software.

Freescale is also collaborating with Wavecom and Option to enable reliable 3G connectivity support for the i.MX515 chip.

Freescale is no stranger to small devices or open source (Chumby, the Linux-powered alarm clock, has a Freescale processor). The netbook market has been dominated by Intel and VIA chips, which cater to a different sort of machine than Freescale does. It remains to be seen how Freescale can compete, but it seems it has a solid chance. It is familiar with, and seems committed to, using open source software to bring out the best in its processors, and the devices they power.