Published in PC Hardware

Intel's Android chips might be bad news for modders

by on18 March 2014

Custom ROM support limited

If you were hoping to pick up an Android phone with an Intel Inside sticker and play around with custom ROMs, think again. Intel's upcoming Merrifield 64-bit SoCs will have a unique security feature dubbed "hooks" and it is not looking good for custom ROMs.


Intel technical account manager Frank Kuypers told that "hooks" will allow devices to detect if the OS is replaced and they will respond by blocking some key features, like LTE.

Intel says this is a security feature, as it was designed to block OS versions and platforms blacklisted by Intel due to security concerns. While it is unclear what sort of ROMs will be affected, it does not sound good. Intel probably won't hang out on XDA looking for custom ROMs, so the big question is how the ROMs will be whitelisted, not blacklisted.

It is not all bad news. The feature is there, but it is still unclear whether Intel will choose to use it at all. In other words, Intel might really take a conservative approach and employ "hooks" only on nasty ROMs which were blacklisted for very good reasons - Android already has way too much malware and other crapware, so it might not be a bad idea to weed out the bad apples.

We believe this approach is a lot more likely, since Intel has nothing to gain from antagonising the custom ROM crowd.

Intel is hoping to ship 40 million Bay Trail T processors this year, but most of them will end up in Windows 8.1 tablets, not Android devices. However, Merrifield should be the first Intel SoC to gain more Android design wins than Windows design wins.

Last modified on 18 March 2014
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