There are rumors that Microsoft will be showcasing some kind of Windows for ARM at CES January 6-9th, but also, it's rumored that actual release may be "an early demo" because of the need for "ARM Drivers"?
What kind of drivers can possibly be needed to be ported for Windows or the like to work on ARM Powered systems?
Webcams? Those are in the SoC anyways aren't they? Printers? Cloud printing solutions such as the one from Google or Apple's AirPrint should solve that shouldn't it?
Since all the main features of an ARM Powered laptop or desktop design are in the SoC, I have a hard time trying to imagine what kind of delay Microsoft would want to argue needs to be brought by hardware makers for their ARM Powered Windows OS to be ready for the market.
More likely Microsoft is working on an ARM compatible applications platform for Windows.
I think that the more likely situation is that Microsoft does not want to make its long time partner Intel think that Microsoft is doing anything to precipitate things away from x86 onto ARM platforms. I believe that Microsoft's main goal is to prepare a Windows for ARM just in case the upcoming ARM Powered laptops and desktops become a huge trend and thus Microsoft would rather not leave that market segment exclusively to embedded Linux OSes like Chrome OS for ARM, Ubuntu for ARM and other optimized Linux OS.
Also likely Microsoft wants to have a strong ARM Powered Tablet oriented Windows OS. Thus the UI for Tablet use could be similar to Windows Phone 7.
Logically, to be competitive, the licencing price of Windows 8 for ARM should be at most half the price of same licencing on Intel.
- Microsoft ARMs Windows for iPad assault (allegedly) (go.theregister.com)
- Report: Microsoft bringing Windows to ARM chips (news.cnet.com)
- Rumor: Microsoft to talk about an ARM version of Windows at CES [Hard to believe] (intomobile.com)
- Microsoft Windows for ARM devices set for CES 2011 (techradar.com)
- Microsoft plans Windows tied to ARM chips: reports (marketwatch.com)
- Microsoft to Announce an ARM Processor Compatible Version of Windows OS (slashgear.com)
- Microsoft to announce ARM-based Windows at CES? (engadget.com)
- Microsoft Plans to talk Windows on ARM at CES, but Products a Ways Off [Mobilized] (mobilized.allthingsd.com)
The New York Times reports Toshiba, LG, Sharp, Samsung and Vizio have Google TV projects going, that they may have been all planning to unveil those at CES but that Google may have asked them to delay their unveiling until next software update including full Google Marketplace support is ready. Samsung may still show a couple Google TV devices at CES, Toshiba has confirmed they won't, Vizio might show some Google TV stuff but only privately and maybe not to be blogged about.
So Google faces challenges in getting American TV networks to agree to allow them to stream TV shows from the web on the Google TV platform. I have estimated that if Google and Adobe wanted, if the negociations with US TV networks wouldn't lead to a solution, that they could unleash a software update to present both the browser and the flash plugin as "User Agent: Generic" making detection by US TV networks impossible and thus forcing them to either remove online TV streaming completely or just regard Google TV as same user terminal as any "normal" laptop or desktop computer.
So let's assume Google TV will have only a limited showing at CES, perhaps Google is trying to coordinate a giant unveiling of second phase of Google TV at CeBIT in March, by that time, more of the major manufacturers could present boxes, Google would present not only Google Marketplace and smoother software integration, they could launch world wide Google TV support (not limited to US anymore), they could also, as suggested by Tudor Brown ARM President last month, present cheaper ARM Powered Google TV devices such as the concept of a $99 ARM Powered Google TV box.
The $99 ARM Powered Google TV set-top-box is an important target, as that makes it affordable enough that everyone will buy one, providing full performance for 1080p YouTube streaming and the HDMI pass-through and IR blaster features, it would provide for the perfect platform to revolutionize TV.
Chrome OS greatest achievement will be the disruption of the whole Windows/Intel/Apple business models of artificially increasing prices of Laptops year after year, as those old silicon valley giants are always frightened to see their multi-hundred billion dollar industry disappear.
What the One Laptop Per Child successfully initiated after 2006, forcing Intel to introduce the Netbook market segment, thus lowering the average price per laptop consumers would purchase by $100-200 overnight, Google is attempting to do even more aggressively with Chrome OS.
These past 2 years, I reviewed several ARM Powered $99 Laptops already, from such Chinese as Hivision, MenQ, Firstview or Indian AllGo Systems, powered by VIA's Wondermedia or other of the affordable ARM9 or ARM11 platforms that are available to these manufacturers for affordable implementation at that time. Sure enough, ARM Cortex A8 and A9, more RAM, faster SoCs are more appropriate for full laptop performance. Every 18 months chips are twice as fast or twice cheaper. How much more do you think that a new ARM Cortex-A9 SoC platform with a larger higher resolution LCD screen costs today compared to an ARM9 from 2 years ago? $30 more? The same? These cheap ARM Powered laptops are interesting because they are early products that have been giving us a taste of the ARM Powered laptops that are coming.
Sure the Cr-48 that Google are beta testing is Intel powered. That is just a question of beta testing of software. ARM Powered Chrome OS probably needs ARM Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 processors to be optimized for large screen laptop computing. The Chrome Browser requires a lot of RAM to be fast. All the I/O and memories on the SoC need to be accelerated to the point the Chrome web browser in a laptop form factor feels 100% as fast on ARM as on Intel.
It may be that the current generation ARM Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 are more suitable for Tablets and Smart Phones than for Laptops and Desktops. More likely, it is that Google has enough to beta test on Intel that they cannot advertise simultaneous beta testing on ARM at this moment as well.
In any ways, it might still be months before mass market Chrome OS laptops are sold to consumers. So clearly the Cr-48 being Intel doesn't have to be an indication of ARM being "not ready" but instead might be simply a question of Google focusing their beta testing program on Intel for now. ARM and Intel based Chrome OS may still actually be released simultaneously to consumers next year.
Also consider the fact Intel CEO Paul Otelinni is also on the board of directors of Google, mysteriously. And that pressure from Intel on Google might convince Google to do such things as Chrome OS and Google TV with Intel first, all the while Google knows that ARM is the best platform eventually for both projects. Although Google TV is released to consumers, it's still limited in size to one similar to beta testing, it's like when Google releases a Nexus phone, they don't do it to sell many Nexus phones, they do it to push their software platform forward, which always turns out that the industry combined sells more Google based devices than all other.
This is what I think Google plans to achieve with lower hardware pricing:
- $99 Google TV -> turns YouTube into larger share of people's daily 5-hour TV watching, 10x increase in YouTube bandwidth when succeeded, changes outcome of elections brings more visionary high-tech favorable politicians to power
- $99 Chrome OS laptops -> realizes cloud computing dream, more ads served per user, enterprise all adopt Chrome OS for speed, security and price, brings in ecosystem for pay-per-web-app.
- $99 Pixel Qi Tablet/E-readers -> platform for Google e-books, full web experience on-the-go, more reading, outdoor use, more personal connection to the web
- $99 Gingerbread Smart Phones -> Google Voice true VOIP replaces telcos, eventually White Spaces is brought in to provide free wireless broadband. Google pushes Local services, location-based advertising brings in next hundred billion in revenues.
It only makes sense Google's platforms will have the absolute largest market share in all these market segments. In all these segments, Google never plans to make profit on hardware, the hardware business is outsourced to manufacturers and brands, Google just plans for their platforms to dominate.
Price of Chrome OS laptops is the true revolution here.
As Google isn't yet announcing the price, it may be hard for analysts to grasp the potential here.
How can a Google Chrome OS notebook be sold at $99?
1. ARM Powered laptops cost half the price to manufacture compared to Intel, even the Intel one can be sold $199, deduct at least Windows licence and Hard drive costs compared to a "regular" netbook, that's 5-10 times cheaper than the Macbook air.
2. Removing hard drive, simplifying motherboard lowers cost.
3. Google makes money later on ads. Seriously, do a calculation how much advertising money Google makes on each of their users, divide their yearly reported revenues by the number of users, Chrome OS users will see even more Google ads than other.
4. Google and Telecoms make money later on selling on-demand 3G/4G wireless data. Even as this should be sold without compulsory subscription plan, the pricing and ease of use should be so tempting, a large share of users will potentially spend hundreds of dollars for on-demand wireless data service. This should be built-in, perhaps not even a SIM card slot, allows Google to also negociate 3G/4G bandwidth deals in all countries worldwide. If prices change in other countries, simply click boom to accept and you've got on-demand wireless bandwidth.
5. Google and Developers will make money later on selling apps. Eventually monetization of web apps will be more than just ads. Even enterprise stuff like Google Apps, Citrix stuff and other Virtualization of Windows/Mac x86 apps, those kinds of services could generate up to thousands of dollars per user in the enterprise.
Critics of Google's Chrome OS based cloud computing need to understand a few things about where it is and where it's going:
- HTML5 apps can work offline and don't have to be slower because of connectivity. Including Google Docs and potential cloud assisted video and photo editing, all can work offline.
- Native code and powerful 3D will be part of it. This means basicaly all apps you can imagine that are on Windows and Mac can also work here. I expect new cloud based versions of http://youtube.com/editor means even video editing professionals will rather want to use this type of cloud based apps for instant encoding and rendering using the power of thousands of grid processing servers on the cloud.
- WebGL and other advances in web browser technology increases potential complexity of web apps.
- A 32GB SD card costs less than $49, a 500GB 2.5" external USB hard drive costs $49, both work in Chrome OS, I even envision a Chrome OS laptop design with available slot to insert a 2.5" hard drive and have it only powered when accessed.
- You can backup and sync your cloud easily on a $49 ARM Powered NAS such as a pogoplug in your home, connect any $99 3.5" 2TB hard drive to that.
- Citrix has demonstrated, any x86 app you want can be virtualized in Chrome OS to actually run faster thanks to cloud grid app hosting than any local PC.
I don't have Google TV yet, I'm waiting for ARM Powered version of it, and they haven't yet released it world wide. But I like to speculate about how it works as I am sure Google TV will revolutionize TV, and the Trillion-dollar/year TV industry.
The probable technical reason TV networks are able to currently block Google TV from accessing their online web tv offerings is probably flash.
The Chrome browser in Google TV can be set to User Agent: Generic (by default though it is set as User Agent: Google TV), thus making it impossible for websites to detect that the user visiting the website is using a set-top-box or a computer/laptop/tablet or other device.
The probable only way for them to detect the set-top-box, can only be the flash plugin. As Adobe probably doesn't want to irritate the TV networks, due to them all using Flash, they probably also don't want to allow Google to switch over the flash player in Google TV to User Agent: Generic.
Google probably also prefers to try as hard as possible to make some deals with the content providers instead of forcing Adobe into setting up Flash to be undetectable. As Google wants all these content partners also to allow their content be distributed on YouTube.
In any ways, if Google and the TV Networks don't reach an agreement soon, I am sure Google will eventually ask Adobe to provide Flash in a totally undetectable fashion. And if that happens, the TV networks will only be able to decide if they want to have any "legal" streaming of their shows online or none at all. And if they decide to remove online flash streaming, the most popular application on Google TV boxes will most likely then be BitTorrent.
- Vizio and Toshiba reportedly to announce Google TV sets at CES [TNW Google] (thenextweb.com)
- Viacom Blocks Google TV Users (adweek.com)
- Viacom is the latest network to block Google TV (geek.com)
- How To Watch The Daily Show on Google TV (gigaom.com)
- How To Watch The Daily Show on Google TV (nytimes.com)
- Fox to Block Google TV: Now Every Major US TV Network Blocking Google TV (crenk.com)
- Viacom blocks Google TV, the madness continues (venturebeat.com)
- Comedy Central, MTV now blocking Google TV (news.cnet.com)
In a Q&A on Digitimes, ARM President Tudor Brown said following:
We all know Taiwan-based manufacturers are capable of commercializing products pretty well, and they have dominated the global production of PCs. However, they have failed to keep the related profits in their pockets.
Tablet PC's open platform will allow profits to be distributed more evenly among supply chain participants, unlike the current model in which CPU and OS giants take most of the earnings. An Android tablet, for example, is a final product with all essential components including software development and integration.
Acer, Asus, MSI are Taiwanese PC brands that have been expanding their market share in the last 10 years, they did this to keep more of the profits to themselves instead of only manufacturing all the laptops and PCs for mostly US and some European brands. The thing is, even while removing the branding intermediary, by having to compete on costs, selling Intel and Microsoft powered products is not leaving the Acer, Asus, MSI a lot of profits to keep for themselves. Still today, in the Intel x86 industry, most of the profits go to Intel and Microsoft.
It is still too early to determine how the tablet PC market will perform in 2011, with no historical context or sense to examine. Personally, I believe the market for tablet computers will likely generate between US$30 billion and US$60 billion next year. There will be more than a dozen players dividing up the pie, not just one or two. [Intel and Microsoft]
Ergo, the whole interest around the ARM Powered devices such as the tablets, smart phones, laptops, e-readers, it's not only a case in ARM technology providing better value, lower cost, lower power consumption, sufficient performance (for web browsing) in lesser amounts of components and more compact form factors. It is not just about the ARM ecosystems unique abilities to foster increased innovation by industry wide collaboration and differentiation. The main benefit of ARM's business model, is that by collaborating on software such as the free Android/Chrome OS/Google TV software OS and on other common solutions, the supply chain participants can keep more of the profits to themselves all the while still lower the cost to the consumer.
Despite more contenders, ARM-designed processors are still expected to remain the dominant technology for tablet PCs for three contributing factors: ARM's well-established network of silicon partners allowing downstream players to diversify their solution providers, our energy-saving features, and software support around the chip architecture. We work with an increasing number of software providers targeting applications for mobile devices.
You can read the complete Q&A at: digitimes.com
- Acer to announce Android 2.2 tablet today in NYC? (tech.fortune.cnn.com)
- Acer likely to announce a 7 inch Android 2.2 tablet and 10 inch Windows 7 tablet today in New York (intomobile.com)
- Acer Leans On Old, New Partners in Tablet Push (blogs.wsj.com)
Last year, I wanted to see a Nexus One for $199 unlocked. But it became $529 and upwards $3000 on 2-year contracts.
Andy Rubin told me at Mobile World Congress:
We are not the ones deciding the price.
Android has been the most disruptive thing to happen in the smart phone industry. The question is, what does Google want to do with the next level of this software platform? Is Google going to push for even faster auto-disruption of the telecom industry by pushing the industry towards significantly lower cost unlocked devices?
The rumors are that Samsung is working with Google (because they can) preparing a 4" Super AMOLED based, possibly Hummingbird 1-1.2Ghz, possibly Orion for Smart Phones (ARM Cortex-A9), possibly 4G-enabled, possibly quint-band to support all HSUPA+/CDMA and LTE/WiMax and maybe even White Spaces technologies all in one.
What I want to know: How cheap?
Samsung Galaxy S is priced above 440€ in Europe when bought unlocked (= $613 with EU 20% VAT, $490 without). Samsung has major agreements with all the major US carriers about selling their Galaxy S for upwards $3000 with the 2-year contracts that most US consumers sign and pay. How would Samsung agree to manufacture and sell a Google branded Gingerbread device significantly lower priced than their current Galaxy devices? The Samsung Galaxy Tab is upwards 799€ unlocked in Europe, upwards $1500 or more with the 2-year contracts in the US. It just doesn't sound probable enough to me that Samsung would be the manufacturer that would want to start selling a $199 unlocked mass market Android Super Phone to disrupt its own growing Android Smart Phone and Tablet businesses.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt says they want to provide Smart Phones to the next 5 billion people, it has to reach developing countries. Are those developing countries going to have exclusive cheaper phones sold to them only while richer countries in Europe and the US are locked with choices mostly above the $400 if trying to buy things unlocked? Globalization should mean disruptive pricing achieved in one part of the world should also arrive to all other parts of the world simultaneously.
isuppli and other such hardware tear down and component analysis sites estimate the cost of materials and manufacture of even the top of the line current Android Super Phones to be trending downwards just $150 per super phone. We see more and more manufacturers competing in this market. How soon till we have choices for unlocked $199 Android Super Phones?
The coolest rumor on Gingerbread is that Google Voice will be highly integrated offering true VOIP functionality into the core of the Android OS. This would provide the software foundation for a data-centric Android phone, bought for below $200 unlocked, with data-only wireless pre-paid plans, no 2-year contracts required.
we’ve learned that Google’s adding SIP support in their Google Voice application to allow you to receive calls to your Google Voice number over WiFi and cellular data.
We want Google Voice worldwide not just on US cellular networks. A real VOIP and worldwide version of Google Voice in Gingerbread will be huge.
Steve Jobs is saying that 7 inch Android Tablets can't be popular. I think they can. This Archos 70 Internet Tablet fits in most Jacket Pockets and thus is the largest screen size that can be carried around without using a bag. Also, this one is half the price/size/weight of the iPad, it comes with HDMI output, full video/audio codecs support, USB host and a built-in Webcam for video-chat all which iPad lacks. This tablet at 300gr and 201x114x10mm may be the lightest and most compact 7" tablet yet, but I think with optimizations and designs that use less bezel, the weight and size could further be optimized to make it even more jacket pocketable. Basically, Android tablets will provide choice for consumers, from small pocketable ones to larger ones that may mostly stay at home.
I haven't yet got the box, and I haven't seen these features being confirmed or not by Google TV representatives, it's being released right now in the US market. Here are some of my expectations for very interesting software and cloud service features to be available with the Google TV platform (currently an Intel CE4100 exclusive, but no reason it won't work for ARM Cortex A9 SoCs soon as well). I base my speculation on a consideration that Google TV would be a totally open and centrally uncontrollable platform as Google has been describing it to be. If you have any means to confirm if any of these features can happen or not on Google TV, please post in the comments:
1. BitTorrent download/streaming: Just type in the name of a movie, TV show, game or song and it will download to an external USB hard drive, or perhaps even better, it will download to your cloud based storage, so-called online seedbox services which can download any BitTorrent on 1gbit/1gbit symmetrical connections and then stream you the downloaded content after minutes. Imagine such international seedboxing network, that can directly interlink and shares Petabytes among the most popular contents with each other, so in many cases, when you request a popular content, it will already be pre-cached on that seedbox or can quickly be cached within that network and instantly streamed to your Google TV box.
Not very legal? Who knows, laws can be changed by politicians, I expect Google TV could accelerate the implementation of Global Licence regulation, where everyone pays a sort of tax on their Internet Service Provider, which thus is redistributed to content creators directly, excluding old-media intermediaries.
It will be interesting to see if the local BitTorrent client app or if the global remote untracable encrypted seedboxing approach will dominate. I expect that this p2p app on Google TV cannot be blocked or remotely removed by Google, Sony, Logitech or by anyone else, that is, if the platform truly is open. I also expect live p2p streaming to work. So you could also watch any TV channel like this, with a quality bitrate that is the same as your own upload bandwidth, as everyone watching is expected to upload to other viewers in real-time so unlimited amounts of users can tune in for free to any live TV channel they want.
Subscribing to BitTorrent RSS feeds will be a great way to auto-download shows and have them ready stored on the USB hard drive to playback on your TV or to sync to your portable Android device.
2. Cloud-based DVR service: while I wonder if Google TV can record TV contents from its HDMI input, with or without needing to use the recently cracked HDCP copy-protection code, while it may be cool to store HD digital copies of TV contents on a simple external USB hard drive, the most interesting DVR feature of Google TV may be remote cloud based DVR services to be provided by Google and perhaps other cloud service providers. Basically, you hit the record button, and that content is recorded on the cloud. The way it truly would happen, is that Google is recording every TV channel all the time no matter what, and depending on laws and regulations, users should be able to get access to all of that content on-demand after broadcast.
This is one big Global cloud based DVR of all channels. Maybe it would require Google to also provide real-time compression of all those recordings so that people with slower bandwidths can still stream all those cloud DVR recordings. If laws and regulation for DVR use does not allow everyone from rewinding and watching everything on-demand, then at least as long as the user has scheduled any specific recordings, has clicked "record" before the show started, then all that content could be provided back. The question is, may the user click a "Record all channels all the time" button?
Google has been doing global cloud based DVR recordings for a while now, as they need it anyways for their content ID matching technology. So now, the release of Google TV may bring those cloud DVR recordings closer to YouTube as well, as TV contents will be posted to Youtube automatically, depending on rights with content makers. If a TV channel opts-in, 100% of their broadcasts can thus be automatically published to Youtube.
3. Game console: 3D graphics accelerating performance should be powerful enough to provide Wii-like gaming graphics. Logically, there will be emulators available for all Nintendo consoles up till N64 and more if Nintendo agrees to licence its games legally. Also, Google has been saying that video gaming is a big part of their plans for Android 3.0 Gingerbread, which probably also includes support thus for the Google TV platform. Which game controllers will be best to use? The Wii remote or any other decent Bluetooth remote control will probably work great for multi-player gaming.
4. YouTube Leanback: the key for Google TV is to provide an excellent Leanback experience for all web videos. It is absolutely important that when people search for anything, that the best most user targetted video for that topic is displayed in full screen instantly in one click. The recommendations algorithm that Google and other app providers need to implement as overlay layer on top of this Leanback experience is crucial as well. There needs to be one big green "Like" button and one big red "Skip" button of which all user ratings need to be carefully aggregated to thus provide personalized Leanback web video experience. This experience could be so good that it could take over most of people's daily 5-hours of TV watching.
Imagine this scenario: Sit on your sofa, hit the green button. Leanback starts. It knows your topics of interest and launches a video in a mix of those genres that you like and from a source it thinks you will enjoy at that moment in time based on knowing your tastes. If you are in any specific mood for any specific contents, just type those in to tweak the recommendations algorithm at that moment to bring you contents in those more specified areas. At any moment you can add tags, add or select genres and topics to thus tweak what it brings to you at that moment.
The goal with Leanback is that the algorithm can bring you full screen video contents that should make you think following statement at every single time: Oh wow, this video is just awesome! more!
Eventually, Leanback should provide in-video automatic editing. If you are in a hurry, you could watch just the best parts of any video, skip past the boring parts. The way it learns what parts of videos are best, is that this green "Like" button and red "Skip" or fast-forward buttons can be pushed at any specific times by all users. When something really cool is going on in a video, you can hit the green "Like" button again, it thus creates hot-zones on all videos to thus be able to extract the best scenes and even add them to playlists together with the best scenes from other videos.
5. Content publishing: Google TV could turn out to be one of the futures central tool for creating your own TV contents and publishing it from your living room. The HD webcam such as Logitech's is not only going to be used for HD video-conferencing, which already is ground-breaking and revolutionary (second best "just like being there" experience with family, friends, colleagues and customers). The HD Webcam could be used to record multi-user live podcast shows, with someone somewhere doing the real-time multi-camera editing, content that can be streamed live by unlimited other users and can be stored thus as TV shows. But it should also support uploading and publishing of any HD video contents from a camcorder, just plug in your HD camcorder to the USB connector of Google TV, and that video content can be published to YouTube HD this way.
6. Quad-HD content streaming: the reason Quad-HD does not yet exist in all our most modern HDTVs is not so much a technological issue, but more of an infrastructure issue. Regular terrestrial, satellite, cable TV networks supposedly do not provide enough bandwidth to provide Quad-HD TV contents on them. And in turn as well, no HDTV makers yet want to produce the Quad-HD screens saying the reason for not making them is because there is no content to watch. Google TV changes this. In theory, Quad-HD is just a newer processor inside of the HDTVs. The upgrade of processor inside of the HDTV to support 3840x2160 may just cost $50 more than the current 1920x1080 HDTV, at least if it is mass manufactured with quickly expanding demand. YouTube already supports Quad-HD content streaming. I estimate that the bandwidth required for on-demand Quad-HD video streaming could be around 24mbit/s. Many Google TV users may already have enough bandwidth to support this. And if full bandwidth is not always available, then any resolution above 1080p and below 2160p could be streamed at adaptable bitrates. It may be true that above 46" Quad-HD screen may be required for good use of that extra resolution. But I have seen Quad-HD at trade shows for years now, and every time I see demonstrations, it simply is amazing and awesome, even just watching 8megapixel digicam pictures on a Quad-HD screen up close is an awesome experience, I find it 100x more interesting than the marketing fad that is 3DTV.
- Playing With YouTube Leanback On Google TV: Nice! (searchengineland.com)
- Google Leanback on TV is really neat (zdnet.com)
- How It Feels to Use Sony's First Google TV [Video] (gizmodo.com)
- YouTube Rolls Out Leanback on Eve of Google TV's Launch (mashable.com)
The imminent release of the $300 Logitech Revue that runs Google TV OS, basically Android for set-top-boxes, uses exclusively an Intel CE4100 for now. One of the reasons for that may be 1080p@60fps h264 high profile high bitrate support (possibly, Intel muscling for some HW decoder exclusivity?). What I am wondering, is, how soon will the Google TV OS be announced to run on the next generation ARM Cortex A9 processors to be sold cheaper than intel? My guess is Google will announce ARM Powered Google TV partners early next year, once Google TV OS 1.0 is open sourced and released for free for anyone to use, after the initial launch exclusivity with Intel, Sony and Logitech and as initial interest for the platform increases.
Until then, ARM Powered "Smart TV" solutions are all over the market in set-top-boxes, media streamers, built-into modern Blu-ray players and HDTVs as you can see in solutions I recently filmed from Philips, LG, Samsung and Panasonic.
Marvell has supported OLPC since the beginning, they have thus far provided the WiFi Meshing modules on XO-1 and XO-1.5. Marvell co-invested with Google, News Corp, Novell and the others into the founding of OLPC to bring about the XO-1 which forced Intel and the whole laptop industry to respond with the 100 Million netbooks that have been sold in the last 3 years to limit the effects of OLPC's potential disruption of the laptop market. Marvell and OLPC have now signed an agreement in which OLPC is to develop XO-3 Tablet(s) based on one of Marvell's ARM System On Chip processor solutions.
Marvell can justify the investment as an R&D investment in which everything OLPC develops, as all OLPC hardware designs are open source, can freely be used by Marvell's manufacturing OEM partners to also release commercial tablet products based on these technologies.
OLPC will use these funds to develop the Tablet that can be used for productivity, for constructionist learning as Nicholas Negroponte said at the Mobilize 2010 conference last week:
How do you make tablets a constructionist medium? A medium where you make things, you don't just consume them. Cause if it's about kids and learning, it's not like you feed a goose grain to make the foie gras. You have to make it for kids to use it, to make, to communicate. Whether it's music, whether it's text or whether it's to write computer programs. And it has to be so low power, when it runs out of power you just shake it a little bit and it continues.
These are the challenges that OLPC will work on to implement in XO-3 before the target 2012 $75 release:
Why should children use tablets instead of laptops?
The future of OLPC: it's a notepad.
The notepad is the oldest tool used by children in the class room. Imagine adding full online and offline interactivity to the notepad. Imagine a magic notepad that can display every page from every book, every image and every video ever filmed. To display low bitrate tutorial videos that work even in black and white mode like the ones of the Khan Academy, even have them be interactive and provided as learning games. The student can annotate all books, take notes and share them. The tablet is not only lighter and could be designed for cheaper, it also is the more usable form factor as an e-reader for reading all books ever written in the world. As Nicholas Negroponte says:
There is no way to justify a paper book. If you'd want to send 10 thousand physical books, you'd have to take every 747 out of service around the planet just to move them from wherever they are being manufactured. Physical books are a luxury.
I wonder if 7″ or 10.1″ Pixel Qi will be used, or both. The 7" size may be optimal for it to be as light, cheap and durable as possible, it might be better for children to read books on a 7" form factor than a 10.1" one. For productivity, I think it should support both touch screen and some cheap $2 USB keyboards/mouse and use its built-in kick-stand. Children can easily carry a $2 keyboard/mouse when they need to be most productive. Maybe a thin keyboard to double as screen protector and which can be clipped onto the back of the device when in tablet/e-reader mode could be a nice design feature, although the screen needs to be unbreakable enough for children not to need worry about carrying the tablet without a screen protector.
For software, I think that OLPC should work with Google and the emerging tablet industry to customize Android for education. Maybe add Sugar apps support on top of Android OS as a secondary app platform "module layer" on top of Android. Basically, Sugar could be a custom UI layer on top of Android for the XO-3 tablet.