Rumour: Nokia to launch ARM-based netbook

August 27, 2009 | 09:59

Tags: #android #arm-cortex #arm-netbook #atom #booklet-3g #cortex-a9 #maemo #mid #netbook #snapdragon #x86

Companies: #arm #nokia

Rumour has it that the recently-unveiled Booklet 3G isn't the only netbook that mobile giant Nokia has planned, with pundits pointing toward the impending release of an ARM-based device.

According to unnamed industry sources quoted by DigiTimes, the company is looking at releasing the device - which is likely to be manufactured by either Compal or Foxconn and released to Original Design Manufacturers for rebranding - some time towards the middle of next year.

So far, details of the device are scant: almost certainly powered by an Qualcomm Snapdragon chip or an ARM Cortex A9 depending on how far Nokia is planning ahead, screen size is likely to be tending towards the portable rather than cinematic side. The use of a processor based on the ARM instruction set rather than the more common x86 means that it won't be running Windows - unless it's Windows Mobile, an operating system better suited to smartphones than netbooks. Likely operating systems are Linux - including the vague possibility it'll be an Android-based device - or something based on the company's own Symbian platform.

This device wouldn't be the first time the company has looked at creating a portable computing system based on ARM and running Linux: in 2005 the company launched its semi-popular Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, which was one of the original MIDs featuring a 4.1" screen and 252MHz TI OMAP 1710 ARM-based processor. The N770 - which was replaced by the upgraded N800 in 2007, and then by the N810 in 2008 - runs a version of Linux developed specifically for mobile devices by Nokia called Maemo, which would certainly give Nokia the experience required to attempt a half-decent custom Linux distribution on a netbook.

Maemo is still actively developed by the company, with a successor to the N810 Internet Tablet due towards the end of the year and a top-end smartphone - developed as the company's answer to the ever-popular iPhone - running the OS due to be unveiled at the Nokia World event next week. The recently-revealed existence of the more traditional Nokia Booklet 3G netbook argues both ways for the veracity of the rumours: while the current push for Maemo and the existence of an x86 netbook means the company is capable of producing an ARM-based netbook, it's questionable whether Nokia would truly consider launching two similar but totally incompatible products so close together.

Would an ARM-based system running a Linux distribution - such as Android or Maemo - be the perfect netbook for you, or is it Windows or no sale? Should Nokia be concentrating on its more traditional x86 designs? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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