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Ahead of the first volume shipments of notebooks under “one laptop per child” (OLPC) program, its long critic Intel Corp. announced that systems built according to Intel Classmate PCs concept are now shipping in volume to Brazil and Mexico. The announcement should proof that Intel’s education-oriented PC initiative is more feasible than that of MIT Media Lab.

The low-cost “classmate PC” laptop is based on Intel Celeron M 900MHz central processing unit (with no L2 cache), Intel 915GMS core-logic, features 256MB of DDR2 memory and is equipped with 1GB or 2GB of NAND flash memory, which substitutes hard disk drive. The device is equipped with 7” display with 800x480 resolution and uses Windows XP or Linux operating system. The device, which weighs 1.3kg, sports 10/100Mb/s Ethernet adapter and 802.11b/g wireless network controller.

The Intel-powered classmate PC supports collaborative learning environments primarily for K-12 schools and is part of Intel’s on-going commitment and dedication to equip children around the world with technology that will help advance learning and development.

In addition to Brazil and Mexico, Intel also plans to run Intel-powered classmate PC pilot programs in more than 25 countries this year, including Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. This year, Intel plans for these classmate PCs to be available in such languages as English, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Turkish.

Intel’s classmate PC, a part of Intel World Ahead program, competes against OLPC, a mobile computer powered by an AMD processor that is expected to cost $100 per unit. Pricing of Intel’s classmate PC is unclear.

“Intel has a long history of supporting education initiatives driven by the belief that technology can open the world’s opportunities for students. Our goal is to provide students with the 21st-century skills they need, such as collaboration and critical thinking, to help ensure that they’re prepared to succeed in the knowledge-based economy. We expect Intel-powered classmate PCs to be an important device to help in education as well,” said Willy Agatstein, Intel vice president for sales and marketing group and general manager for emerging markets platform group.

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