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One Laptop Per Child, a non-profit organization aiming to popularize personal computers in developing countries, said that it would replace AMD Geode processor and platform in the new version of the XO laptop with Via Technologies’ C7 chip and supporting core-logic. The move is aimed to boost performance of the XO 1.5 without increasing the price or changing design and batteries.

The OLPC XO 1.5 will be based on Via C7-M processor with up to 1GHz clock-speed; Via VX855 single-chip core-logic with built-in DirectX 9-class graphics core, hardware acceleration of video playback, Serial ATA, USB and high-definition audio support; 1GB of DDR2 memory,  4GB of NAND flash storage with an option for expansion to 8GB. OLPC will also change some of the internals in order to cut power consumption and improve repair ability.

OLPC XO generation 1.5 will continue with the existing display, although OLPC is working with PixelQi to try to improve the brightness and efficiency of the screen.

“Overall, the target is to match the Gen 1 XO-1 in power consumption while making aggressive suspend easier, and in price (while changing to components which are more likely to decrease in price). It is likely that both goals can be met,” said John Watlington, a spokesperson for the organization.

Early versions of the hardware (bare board) should be available for driver development at the end of May.  A larger number of prototype laptops (several hundred) for software development and testing will become available around the end of August.

The OLPC also said it expect the generation 1.5 machines to ship with an OLPC 8.2.x software release, modified to support XO 1.5’s new hardware, but otherwise unchanged from the current production software release and compatible with the current software in the field.

Current OLPC XO laptop features AMD Geode LX-700 processor with 433MHz clock-speed and built-in graphics controller, 256MB of PC-2700 (DDR 333MHz) memory, 1GB NAND flash that substitutes hard disk drive, 7.5” screen with 1200x900 resolution, wireless and wired network adapters as well as integrated webcam, microphone, speakers and so on.

“We're excited to be finally able to make this news public. While members of the technical team have been working on this for several months, it was not until last week that we could with any certainty say that we were going to refresh the hardware and what that refresh was likely to be,” said Mr. Watlington.

Tags: OLPC, XO, AMD, Via Technologies, Geode, C7

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