Feeds

One Laptop Per Child dumps AMD for VIA

Beyond Geode

Security for virtualized datacentres

The One Laptop Per Child folks have found new brains for the $199 laptop that wants to change the world.

OLPC will keep the look and feel of its current XO laptop (which we reviewed last January), but will replace its end-of-the-line AMD Geode LX-700 with a low-power VIA C7-M. The Geode was x86-compatible, and so is the C7-M.

The "refresh" was announced by John Watlington, OLPC's hardware-development chief, and it answers the question that many OLPC-watchers had been asking since it became clear late last year that AMD wasn't going to compete in the low end of the netbook market. The writing was on the wall: The Geode line was not going to enjoy any further development.

Not only is the OLPC group moving to a new, equally power-miserly processor, it's using the switch as an opportunity to give other elements of the XO a hefty upgrade. The new version, XO 1.5, will look the same as its predecessor - we'll have to wait until XO 2.0 to see if the next offering will be a less jarring-but-unmistakable green - but inside will be a number of welcome improvements.

Perhaps even more important than the C7-M will be its support chip, the VIA VX855 Media System Processor. This low-power, small footprint chip provides DirectX 9.0-capable graphics, eight-channel 192kHz HD audio, support for two DDR2 memory channels, and hardware acceleration for assorted video codecs, including H.264, MPEG-2/4, DivX, and WMV9. According to VIA, the VX855 is capable of "smooth playback of high bit-rate 1080p HD video."

There will be more room inside to store audio and video as well. The original XO had a 1GB flash drive. The new version will come with either 4GB or 8GB. RAM will be boosted from a meager 256MB to 1GB, and the wireless networking hardware will be upgraded to a 400mW Marvell 88W8686 and made field-replaceable.

OLPC is also working with the manufacturer of their laptop's display, PixelQi, to improve its brightness. After all, not every kid is fortunate enough to go to school indoors.

You've got to hand it to OLPC. They've endured layoffs, doubts from folks who suggest that cheap netbooks are just as good, and competition from companies who tout virtualization as a better way to get more kids in front of more screens.

Through it all, the good people at OLPC have kept their laser focus on empowering kids in the developing world. Well, at least when they're not building hella-sexy electric motorcycles. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share
Not four. Point four. Count yer booty again, Microsoft
Hey, Mac fanbois. HGST wants you drooling over its HUGE desktop RACK
What vast digital media repository could possibly need 64 TERABYTES?
In a spin: Samsung accuses LG exec of washing machine SABOTAGE
Rival electronic giant tries to iron out allegations
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.