Dell turns to Linux for quick-boot system

Dell's Latitude On Flash module snaps into an internal mini-card slot and allows computers to boot in a few seconds, using the laptop's main x86 processor instead of a separate Arm chip. The module is offered as an option for Latitude E-series systems, which can also be equipped with the existing quick-boot system, called Latitude On, that's based on an Arm-based OMAP processor from Texas Instruments.

"By running on a low-cost memory card, Latitude On Flash delivers a broad level of functionality at a significantly lower price point than the original Latitude On OMAP-based offering," wrote Lionel Menchaca, in a blog entry on Dell's website.

But there's one drawback. Using the laptop's x86 processor for the quick-boot feature requires more power than using the Arm chip, so battery life on laptops with Latitude On Flash won't be as good as those with an Arm processor, Menchaca wrote.

The quick-boot function allows users to surf the web, view digital images or check e-mail just a few seconds after switching on a laptop. The instant-on environment provided with Latitude On Flash includes an updated interface that makes it easier to access applications, a Dell spokesman said. It also includes Skype software for voice conversations over the Internet.

The instant-on environment is partitioned from the hard drive and boots separately, the said.

In September, Dell launched the Latitude Z laptop offering the Latitude On instant-on capability as standard. The system contained a Texas Instrument OMAP chip based on an Arm design that supported the instant-on environment. The company also offered Latitude On as an option for the Latitude E4200 and E4300 series laptops.

The company is offering Latitude On Flash as an option for Latitude E4200, E4300 and Z laptops.

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