updated 12:35 am EDT, Sat April 18, 2009
OLPC XO-1 Goes to VIA
The One Laptop Per Child project tonight said it would overhaul the XO-1 with a major internal upgrade. The Gen 1.5 update will drop the AMD Geode processor that has been used since launch and instead use a VIA C7-M with a clock speed that varies between 400MHz and 1GHz depending on the amount of heat. By making the swap, OLPC also gets a new chipset that adds 3D acceleration, HD video decoding and surround sound. The combined design is meant to consume no more energy than the current XO-1 while active but to use less power while idle, run faster, and (through component cost drops) ultimately reduce the price.
Other core aspects should also get an upgrade, such as a boost to 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. The developing-world PC group also promises more expansion and will let custom orders give the notebook 8GB of storage at the factory, while the networking will ultimately be removable and let schools or technicians replace the Wi-Fi in the field. The unique high-visibility LCD should eventually receive brightness and efficiency upgrades.
OLPC already has schedule details and expects the very first board-only driver testbeds to be ready in May, with completed prototypes shipping in late August. When Gen 1.5 models will ship in bulk isn't specified, though the project team is aiming for backwards-compatibility with 1.0 apps regardless of when the finished version ships. Gen 1.5 likewise isn't considered a replacement for the XO-2, which may switch to an ARM processor for even lower power consumption.