March 20, 2014

Intel may begin to block custom firmware

If you were hoping to pick up a phone with Android-Intel Inside sticker and play with a custom ROM, think again. Upcoming 64-bit system-on-chip Merrifield from Intel will have a unique security feature called "hooks", and it's not good for custom ROM.
Technical manager of Intel's Frank Kuipers said that "hooks" will allow the device to detect if the operating system is replaced and produce a response to this action, blocking some key features such as LTE.
Intel says it's a security tool as it was designed to block the OS and firmware blacklist Intel for security reasons. While it is unclear what ROM will be affected, but it already sounds good. Intel, probably will not check them all, so the big question is how to get the firmware to the white list, but not in black.
That's not all the news. The function is there, but it is still unclear whether Intel use it at all. In other words, Intel can really apply a conservative approach using "hooks" only unwanted insertions that have been blacklisted for a very simple reason - Android already has too many malware and other crapware, so sifting bad apples can not be a bad idea.
We believe that this approach is much more likely, since Intel is unlikely to receive any benefit from preventing mass custom ROM.
Intel hopes to deliver 40 million processors Bay Trail T this year, but most of them eventually fall into tablets based on Windows 8.1, and not the device Android. Nevertheless, Merrifield should be the first SoC from Intel, that will get more wins on the platform Android, than on Windows.
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