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Smartphones Using Intel’s Next Gen 64-Bit Merrifield Processor Discourages Custom ROMs

Consumers who love to replace the existing firmware of their smartphones with a custom ROM such as CyanogenMod might not be able to do it easily with devices that will use Intel’s next generation 64-bit Merrifield processor. This new processor is the company’s most powerful mobile processor to date that offers a long battery life. It’s also built to be very secure that once the operating system is replaced certain key features of the device will be disabled.

Intel

Intel’s Platform Architecture Specialist Frank Kuypers explained that a new feature has been added to Merrifield called “hooks” which basically allows certain operating system functions as well as applications to interact directly with the processor and determines whether a process is allowed to be run or not.

Hooks is in essence a security feature that allows the processor to detect all processes taking place and restrict them if needed. It is initially designed for the enterprise. A possible scenario is that companies could give out smartphones to its workers without worrying if these devices will get compromised. It prevents employees from installing untrusted software and prevents access to the corporate network if the device gets lost. Because of this feature, simple tasks such as sending an email may be restricted or even an entire operating system may not be used.

Kuypers further explains that the new processor is able to detect if the original operating system of the device has been replaced with another version such as CyanogenMod. Once it detects a change it will block key functions of the device such as LTE/UMTS and the ability to send emails.  The reason for this is that the chip detects the new OS as a risk and will block certain features unit the device reverts back to the original OS.

The Merrifield with the hooks feature will be active beginning this year and will lock a device out for certain operating systems. Intel has not released a list yet as to which operating systems will be able to work without any problems with this chip.

This latest technology of Intel may become unpopular to consumers who love to personalize their devices however the company says that security is their top most priority. While I can see this to be accepted at the enterprise level I’m doubtful if this will be popular on the consumer level.

via softpedia

5 Comments

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  1. I guess this will be like Windows and Linux in the PC industry. Corporate crowd vs. the pro-open source guys. And I’m happy and proid to say that I’m in the second group.

  2. Bad move Intel. Trying to restrict consumer’s freedom in the guise of giving corporate security is dumb. You will not go well with Android users.

  3. Intel has become way too successful in PC segment for a long time that it missed an equally significant opportunity in the smartphone market while it was still developing. Now Intel is merely playing catch up, and it’s not even doing good enough at that.

  4. Intel’s is one of the newbies in smartphone business and it’s not doing so well I guess. I’ve heard its CPUs drain batteries faster too.
    I’ve been a big Intel fan when it comes to its CPUs for PCs but it apparently needs to work harder in smartphones.

  5. It can discourage custom ROMs all it wants. Either way, I never want to see an Intel chip in my smartphone. My experience with them in mobile devices has been terrible–always overheating, and then the smartphone has to shut itself off to cool down. Grr.

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