Intel will add Linux and support chips in McCaslin, the new version of its ultramobile platform for tiny PCs and handheld devices, due in 2008.

McCaslin is based on a low-power processor known by the codename Steeley and a chipset that includes an integrated graphics processor. This package is just the beginning, Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Ultra Mobility Group, announced at the Intel Developer Forum conference in Beijing.

During the first half of 2008, Intel will release a successor to McCaslin, called Menlow, based on a 45-nanometer low-power processor called Silverthorne and a new chipset, called Poulsbo. Unlike the current two-chip chipset used with McCaslin, Poulsbo is a single chip, which reduces power consumption and takes up less space - key considerations for small, portable computers.

Chandrasekher also announced Intel's backing for Linux as an alternative operating system for small computers - particularly a class of device which Intel calls Mobile Internet Devices. The first two Linux companies to join this effort are China's Red Flag Linux Software and Canonical, which distributes Ubuntu Linux.

The first ultramobile PCs, based on a design called Origami, were jointly developed by Intel and Microsoft and designed to run the Tablet PC Edition of Windows XP. The latest ultramobile PCs, such as Samsung Electronics's Q1 Ultra, run the newer Vista operating system (read our review of last year's Q1).

Get up to speed with all the news from this week's Intel Developer Forum in Beijing.