Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is hiring Android driver development engineers, a move that reflects the chipmaker's big push in to the tablet and smartphone space with the help of Android.

The market for tablets and smartphones is huge and lucrative. Market research firm Gartner expects tablet sales to touch 294 million in 2015 from almost 70 million this year. Meanwhile, In-Stat is forecasts 850 million smartphone sales in 2015.

AMD is recruiting talent for the development of Android driver software indicating the chipset vendor is also likely to offer notebook/tablet PC partners chipset solutions supporting the Android platform later, Digitimes reported citing sources.

A job post at AMD website reads: The Linux Base Graphics team is looking for Android Driver Development engineers to help us evolve our driver stack for new platforms and in line with the development trends in the Android ecosystem. Experience with video decodes acceleration within the Android web browser or video player application would be an asset.

The requirement specification suggests that AMD have begun the process to make its chips compatible with Android, which is one of the leading mobile operating systems and challenging Apple's iOS.

Google's Android is experiencing exponential growth and manufacturers shipped 33.3 million Android phones worldwide, according to the data from the UK-based market research firm Canalys.

Meanwhile, a new data from ComScore puts Google Android on the top of the list for the smartphone market category, followed by RIM and Apple in the second and the third positions respectively.

The data from comScore MobiLens service, documenting key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three month average period ending February 2011, showed Google Android grew 7.0 percentage points since November, strengthening its number 1 position with 33.0 percent market share.

In addition, Google has built an entire ecosystem around its Android software in terms of services, apps and developer support. In fact, the number of applications on Android Market currently stands at over 200,000 up from only 75,000 in June 2010.

So, no wonder why AMD wants to take advantage of Android and its exponential growth.

Intel Impact

Meanwhile, AMD's foray in to the tablet/smartphone space may hurt Intel's plans for Atom processors.

Both Intel and AMD didn't have many products to offer in the mobile computing market as their core market had been PCs, which is still growing at a healthy pace but not at the same rate as tablets/smartphones.

Intel, which has already been supporting Android, developed Atom processors for the market, while AMD until now has been mostly reserved about the platform without much products in its kitty.

But, AMD's Fusion-based processors, which consume low power while delivering decent graphics, may be the trump card for the chip maker to enter into this market.

AMD is hiring staff especially for creating Android drivers for its Fusion line of chips as it wants to diversify in to the ever-growing tablet and smartphone market. AMD's is a multi-core microprocessor architecture that combines processing and graphic cores into a single processor package.

AMD's Brazos chips, a product from Fusion platform, seem to be doing better than Atom in terms of graphics performance as well as heating, according to AnandTech.

In addition, since the Brazos chip seems to be smaller than Atom, it will give significant price advantage for AMD.

On the other hand, Intel is already struggling to compete with British chip giant ARM, which designs that power the vast majority of tablets and smartphones in the market today. To counter that, Intel launched Oak Trail Atom chips.

Media reports say that Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb will make its way to tablets powered by Intel's upcoming Oak Trail processing platform.

Oak Trail is the code name for the Intel Atom processors that have been developed to compete with ARM's mobile processors, which have more or less dominating the market as they provide a lower power consumption and longer battery life than Intel.

Intel hopes that that Oak Trail will provide better performance and battery life compared to ARM based processors.

However, both AMD and Intel are not alone in the market. They will face stiff competition from ARM-based chip makers including Nvidia, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Samsung. Leading ARM-based mobile computing chips include Nvidia's Tegra 2, Qualcomm's snapdragon, Texas Instruments' OMAP and Samsung's Hummingbird.

Stock analysis firm Trefis expects Atom constitutes about 2.8 percent to estimated $155 billion value for Intel. This puts Atom's value at around $4.3 billion.

If AMD can create even half of this value for itself from some success in the mobile computing market (netbooks, smartphones, tablets etc.), it could lead to an upside of as much as 30 percent to its current price estimate, Trefis said.