Intel is working hard to try to find a place for its hardware in the smart phone/tablet arena. How can it make its own Atom processors as attractive as ARM? By making more software, of course.
Intel seems to have a strategy of producing software that levels the playing field for its Atom and related processors. The latest offering is a C++ compiler which, unless you understand its purpose, seems like a very strange beast.
The new C++ compiler is compatible with the existing GNU compiler used with the Native Development Kit (NDK). This means that you can take an existing Android C++ program and compile it to x86 machine code without making any modifications to the source and that the resulting machine code will run on any Android system later than version 4.0 including Jellybean. The main advantage of using the Intel compiler, according to the claim made for it, is that it creates more efficient code which makes better use of the x86 architecture. Intel does have a track record for producing more efficient compilers for its own hardware.
What is remarkable about this compiler is that the x86 code it produces only run on an Intel Android device and only under Linux. Specifically you can't run it under Windows or OSX. It needs Ubuntu 10.04 or 11.04 to compile your code.
This is all a bit strange because the number of Intel-based Android devices is small; the number of apps making heavy use of C++ on Android is small; and finally the number of Android developers working with Ubuntu development systems is small. All of these "small" quantities means that Intel has just targeted a very small market segment.
At the moment the compiler is free, but Intel might decide to charge for it in the future. No price is indicated, but the other compilers that it sells cost around $700.
You have to see this new Android compiler as part of a whole strategy to make Intel-based devices more apealing to hardware manufacturers and programmers alike. Intel already offers accelerated Android simulators and HTML development enviroments so C++ for Android is a natura,l if niche, extension.