Intel sets up MeeGo research center with China's Tencent

Intel has established a joint innovation center with Tencent that will promote MeeGo and Atom-based devices

Intel is establishing a joint innovation center with Tencent, one of China's largest Internet firms, to develop products and services around the chip maker's MeeGo mobile operating system and devices using its Atom processors.

The new partnership could help Intel to promote MeeGo in China, along with its Atom-based microprocessors, both of which have yet to be widely adopted.

Intel had high hopes for MeeGo, a mobile version of Linux that is designed for a wide range of devices like smartphones, tablets, netbooks, along with smart TVs and mobile computing in cars. The OS launched last May, but Intel was dealt a blow when Nokia, its major partner on MeeGo, chose to establish its future smartphone strategy around Microsoft's Windows Phone OS.

Tencent and Intel made their announcement on Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing. The innovation center results from Intel teaming up with Tencent last year to work on MeeGo.

"We are very happy with the progress we have made," said Renee James, Intel's general manager for its software and services group. "It's from this desire working with Tencent we are forming the center around MeeGo and Atom-based devices."

Intel's Atom chips are designed for mobile devices like tablets and netbooks. But the chips have yet to provide the same low power efficiency as ARM microprocessors, which are more widely used in mobile phones and tablets. Intel hopes to eventually design better Atom chips in the coming years through upgraded manufacturing methods.

Tencent operates China's largest instant-messenger service, QQ, which has 647.6 million active accounts, and is a major provider of online gaming. The company sees opportunities in tablets, smart TV and mobile computing in cars, said Jeff Xiong, Tencent's co-chief technology officer.

The innovation center is already working to develop product and services in the fields of tablets, security and gaming. Currently the center has 60 engineers, but will eventually have a total of 200.

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