The harder part would be getting developers on board to write games that actually take advantage of it. Most current Android games are heavily tied to touchscreen input, and thus wouldn't map well to the traditional console experience. On the plus side, developers who have already sunk costs into developing Android paths for their rendering engines would at least get a lot of code reuse out of that.
FWIW, Android on x86 isn't wholly new even in the retail device space, the current Google TV devices like Sony's $200 Bluray player with Google TV, their full TV device and the Logitech Revue are all sporting Atom chips (so... less powerful than an i5 but still x86) and other than the Logitech Revue these devices are all up to Honeycomb now.
Google TV 2.0 on those Sony devices is actually quite nice and will likely get even better with ICS+. I hope they stick with it and get past all the bad press that came out of 1.0 and Logitech's vocally negative experiences with it.
On the other hand, look at the Kindle Fire, and the rest of the Android ecosystem.
It's a really exciting and intriguing concept to me - disrupting console gaming.
I don't want an Nvidia 580 GTX Android game, that would have no hope of working on Tegra 3 on the tablet. High-end ARM graphics look good enough for most people now. I also think it's a better strategy for Android to "flood" the console market with cheap $100-$150 ARM consoles, than $500 Intel/Nvidia ones. People would still prefer PS3/Xbox 360 over that.
* OpenGL ES Hardware acceleration for AMD Radeon chipset
What NOT work (yet):
* Hardware acceleration for Intel platform
The biggest impact instruction choice makes these days is on memory efficiency, but both ARM & x86 are relatively memory efficient compared to the other common RISC architectures.
Sure ARM uses less power and x86 provides better performance, but that's no longer due to the instruction set, that's almost entirely due to optimization tradeoffs.
I'm willing to bet that it will be easier for the x86 makers to scale down power usage than it will be for the ARM guys to scale up performance.
Dual core 2 Ghz Cortex A15 chips will appear first in Q2 2012 from Samsung (Exynos 5250). Is Brazos or Atom at the level of Core 2 Duo performance yet? Nope. And they still use more power than Cortex A15. In the mean time, ARM chips grow in performance faster than x86 low-end chips drop in power consumption every year.
By the time Atom or Brazos achieves the same power consumption, high-end ARM chips will have first gen i3 or even 2nd gen i3 performance (a couple of years). Atom won't even be fanless until the end of 2013.
Brazos & Atom are still 45nm, and are a lot faster than 45nm ARM parts. They should be, they use a lot more power. Exynos 5250 is 32nm.
In Q2 2012 we will finally be able to compare apples to apples. Medfield vs A15. And we'll definitely see fanless CPUs from Intel next year. I don't think there's room for a fan in this: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4788/intels-medfield-gingerbre...
It's far easier to be the second or third company doing something than to be the first. A large part of the increase in performance that ARM enjoyed was obtained by learning from the successes and failures of Intel & POWER & Alpha and all other performance trailblazers.
Now that ARM is getting closer to mainstream performance, that kind of momentum is going to be much harder to maintain.
But mostly I've learned to never bet against Intel. Many have done so, and the landscape is strewn with their failures over the last 30 years. Certainly NVidia & Samsung et al have some very impressive engineers that might be capable of beating them. Eventually Intel will stumble, and it might be this time. But I'm much more willing to bet on Intel than against them.
Windows 8 will be weak on ARM and strong on x86 as a platform, which is why Google should support ARM over x86 for as long as possible. They are once again repeating the mistake with Flash - supporting a technology just to spite Apple, even though it's not in their best long term interest either.
Right now, in the tablet market, Apple is not their #1 enemy. Microsoft is. They need to focus on (forever) winning the #2 position after Apple in tablets. After Windows 8 fails to become #2 in tablets, they can then go back to winning the #1 position from Apple. But if they don't focus on getting a strong #2 position right now, and make it impossible for Microsoft to ever get it again (just like they did in smartphones) they risk losing both top 2 positions in tablets, and maybe even more.
Also, I really wish they were more pro-active in getting more (a LOT more) developers to make Android tablet apps. Why are they so slow on this? How can Microsoft push for 40,000 apps in one year on a 1% market share platform, and they can't do the same with Android for tablets? Google really needs to get this priority straight because it's vital for the continuing success of Android.
This is not the time to be laid-back about this. They need a very strong showing on tablets by the time Windows 8 appears on them. I still think it's too late for Windows 8 for tablets, but the more laid-back they are about it, the higher the risk is. They need to minimize Microsoft's opportunity as much as possible. This is Google's (and Apple's) chance to stop Windows from dominating the market for another decade.
1. A good Android/x86 port will give them the option of offering an Android simulator (like Apple's iOS simulator) to developers as an alternative to the much-maligned emulator.
2. If Intel or AMD gets anywhere with x86 smartphones and/or tablets, it is better for Android if it is involved (or at least prepared).
3. They'd rather have the android/x86 work take place under the official umbrella, rather than be an external fork (especially if the existing external fork(s) would otherwise get high-profile sponsors like Intel and AMD).
I wouldn't be surprised to see many such devices move back to the ARM SoC platforms in their next incarnations.
I wouldn't be surprised to see devices move back (to line up with the bulk of the Android ecosystem, for instance), but since battery life / power consumption isn't a big issue for TV peripherals, I could see things staying with x86 as well. We'll see.
ARM systems can also be generally cheaper to implement as with many SoCs there is no "chip set" just the single SoC and a couple auxiliary parts. Few parts and fewer traces generally results in a cheaper product.
I would _think_ but certainly don't know that maintaining a single set of optimized drivers would also be a win. As many of the ARM SoCs share sub-components with the SoCs used already on android. Thus there is a cost win in being able to use existing drivers. On the other hand anyone that has used linux on Intel GMA video knows there are some "issues" with those devices and since android sits on linux, I would assume they had to do a bunch of custom work to get it working well (or maybe its just an X11 thing).
A few months ago I put together a 23" android device: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8lHdgHQmvc
Devices like that make much more sense on x86 than ARM.