OLPC is probably looking for a non X86 architecture for XO-2, probably ARM, where several providers can provide the processor. Using ARM Cortex, OLPC can use any of Texas Instruments, Mavell, Freescale, Samsung, Qualcomm, Nvidia and others, all interchangeably, independently of the deals that will be put in place. The idea being that having all these ARM Cortex providers being more or less compatible with each other, enabling minimal changes in motherboard designs to have them all be compatible, this enables competition in the processor market. This will more quickly drive the prices down much further. This is the only way you can optimize the interpretation of Moore’s law which says that you can cut the price and power consumption of laptops by half every 18 months.
There is a basic reason AMD is not too enthusiastic about this whole new low cost laptop market. The reason is written on the wall, everyones can see it coming, cheaper laptops means it will be much harder to find profits in the industry. AMD isn’t exactly having an easy time already as things are today, Intel’s profit margins and overall income have shrinked 90% in 2008 compared to 2007.
I believe OLPC should use Google Android with Sugar on top, and they should increasingly rely on cloud computing such as the recently rumored Google Web Drive service to store and share all the data on. With XO-2, you should much further synchronize the way the school servers synch storage, processing power and contents to and from the cloud. Basically what you get is an overly simplified Internet access terminal, one with a small ARM Cortex processor behind the next generation of even lower power and lower cost Pixel Qi screens. One that just relies on basic Google Gears for local content caching, and let most of the rest happen using the much cheaper cloud.
$100 laptops using ARM are possible today already. Chinese GPS manufacturers are making them already using uber simple Linux and last generation MIPS or ARM processors: http://techvideoblog.com/category/laptops/
This makes it obvious that OLPC can achieve a $75 price point on XO-2, consider also the advantage of using a dual touch-screen, is that ou can even more easilly mass manufacture exactly the same model for the whole world. Since all the different keyboard layouts and all of the local interfaces are simply going to be a software function of the touchscreens. Mary-Lou Jepsen has done it once already. She can do it again.
Marc Canter is the CEO of Broadband Mechanics.
Interview with Sevenload CEO Axel Schmiegelow about Sevenload’s position in the online video market.
- WiFi and HSDPA built-in to upload my HD videos directly to an FTP server without needing to use a laptop. API to interact with online services to then publish that video to video-blogs and Youtube.
- Live streaming using WiFi or HSDPA of the camera feed in a low resolution and bitrate all the while the camcorder is recording the HD quality to the Internal storage.
- Built-in 2.5" hard drive (up to 500GB) as well as SDHC storage.
- Built-in bluetooth or VHF to use for cheap but high quality wireless microphones. Multiple microphones should work with one camera.
- USB keyboard support to enter filenames, description, tags for when publishing the HD videos directly from the camera to the Internet.
- Voice recognition service (could be online), can automatically transcribe title, description and tags from voice recordings made to be linked up with the main HD video file recording.
- On screen live chat from live video viewers in the same way as the Qik live chat works on the Nokia N95.
- Live video feed should be able to go to services such as Qik.com, Mogulus.com, Ustream.tv, Kyte.tv as well as live p2p streaming systems using live Bittorrent protocols, pplive or sopcast.
Philippe Tarbouriech is a Photographer Technologist at http://phitar.com and worked as the producer of Sim City 3000 in the silicon valley. In this video he is talking about some of the challenges for the OLPC project in terms of being relevant in the classroom and about some of the strategies that a teacher can use to keep the attention of the students when they each have their own laptop.
Guy Pignolet is a researcher at the University of La Reunion LEEP Energy Lab and is a Board Member of the Sunsat Energy Council for Space Power. He talks about Nicolas Tesla and other wireless power transfer technologies.