THE ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD foundation is planning to move away from x86 processors and will almost certainly specify ARM chips in the next generation of its rugged portable for kids.
The organisation, which no longer actually builds the hardware, but offers Open Source blueprints to other manufacturers, is aiming to increase battery life and functionality by specifying more efficient CPUs designed by the British company.
Are you winding me up?
In an interview with PC World OLPC tech boss Ed McNierney said, "Our current XO-1 uses an average of five watts of power, and while most people think that's amazingly low, we think it's our biggest problem."
And while x86 chips have the potential to become more power efficient, ARM has stolen the march with advanced power management features and built in functions like integrated graphics and Wi-fi networking.
But there is one major stumbling block which the non-profit organisation has yet to overcome. Microsoft Windows, which OLPC still considers to be essential for some reason, does not work on non-x86 processors. And if the organisation insists on making the next generation of its hardware dual boot, then it will have to go cap in hand to the Redmond software giant.
"Like many, we are urging Microsoft to make Windows – not Windows Mobile – available on the ARM. This is a complex question for them," said OLPC head honcho Nicholas Negroponte.
He has 18 months to convince the world's most profitable software maker that it's in the company's best interest to create what, to all intents and purposes, will be a free of charge operating system for some of the world's poorest people.
Let's see if Bill gets his cheque book out. µ
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