OLPC drops AMD chips for Via

The nonprofit is refreshing hardware to boost system performance

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Project XO laptop

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Project XO laptop

One Laptop Per Child on Friday refreshed its XO-1 laptop hardware, dumping chips from Advanced Micro Devices in favor of processors from Via Technologies.

The nonprofit will now use Via's C7-M processor instead of AMD's Geode processor to power the laptop, OLPC officials said in a post on the group's Web site. The upgrade is a previously undisclosed part of a laptop update that OLPC announced last year.

The Via processor will operate at clock speeds of between 400MHz and 1GHz, which OLPC considers an upgrade over the Geode LX processor in current XO laptops. The upgraded hardware should improve system performance while drawing similar amounts of power.

The laptop's unique appearance won't change, but the Via processor will boost its capabilities, the OLPC team wrote. Via is providing a chipset that will include a 3D graphics engine and high-definition video decoder in a single package.

"In our continued effort to maintain a low price point, OLPC is refreshing the hardware to take advantage of the latest component technologies," OLPC officials wrote in the post.

Advanced Micro Devices in January said it plans to phase out the aging Geode low-power chip, creating uncertainty about its use in products like future XO laptops.

The upgraded hardware also adds more memory and storage. The upgraded XO laptops will include 1GB of RAM and between 4GB and 8GB of storage. Existing XO systems include 256MB of RAM and 1GB of storage.

Systems will become available for testing in August. A date for volume shipments of the laptop wasn't announced by OLPC.

Designed for use by children in developing countries, the XO laptop has been praised for its innovative hardware features and environmentally friendly design. In addition to this hardware update, the organization is working on the next generation of XO hardware - called XO-2 - which may use processors designed by Arm.

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