OLPC 1.5 refresh replaces AMD Geode CPU with VIA C7-M

olpc-15

The folks at the OLPC Foundation have announced a major change in the XO Laptop hardware. The XO 1.5 will look almost identical to the original XO Laptop. But instead of using an AMD Geode low power processor, it will sport a VIA C7-M CPU. Last month there was a rumor going around that OLPC was going to drop the AMD chip and switch to an ARM processor. It looks like the only the first half of that rumor was true.

The team is still working on the XO-2, which will be a dual touchscreen device unlike pretty much anything available today, that laptop wont’ be available for a few years. 

In the meantime, the XO 1.5 will be a faster, and more powerful machine than the original XO. In addition to the CPU change, the updated laptop will have 1GB of RAM (instead of 512MB) and 4GB to 8GB of NAND flash storage. The VIA C7-M CPU will run at clock speeds between 400MHz and 1.5GHz. The laptop will use the new VX855 chipset which incorporates a 3D graphics engine, HD video decorder, USB hub and other elements on a single chip. 

 

The XO 1.5 will use the same display that’s found on first generation XO Laptops, but OLPC is working with PixelQi, a company founded by former OLPC designer Mary Lou Jepsen, on new screen technology that will be more vivid while consuming less power. 

The VIA C7-M CPU is a 4 or 5 year old chip that’s also used in several consumer oriented netbooks, including the HP Mini 2133. I’ve found that it doesn’t handle multi-tasking, video, or other CPU-intensives tasks quite as well as the Intel Atom processor. But the C7-M chip offers decent performance with low power consumption and a low price tag. And it should offer a bit of a performance boost over the 433 AMD Geode processor used in the first generation XO Laptop.

Early versions of the XO 1.5 should be available for driver development in May, with a larger number of prototypes expected by August. The goal is eventually to release the XO 1.5 intonew markets as well as environments where the original XO has already been deployed, so the two laptops are designed to be interoperable. 

via OLPC News

  • oddone

    The interoperability sounds nice, I just hope this doesn't affect the price too much.

  • Mikez

    None of the major Linux distributions build a kernel for the C7-M processor – -
    But I do, usable with nearly any Linux distribution. ;) See forum postings.
    User-space programs (other than the graphics driver) can be stock i686 builds.

  • Pixel Qi fan in waiting

    Maybe – that they want to be able to dual boot install both Windows and Linux on this model… with the VIA they will be able to do that… with ARM however, there are no Windows OS builds such as one for XP, Vista, etc.

    The ARM direction, with some low power graphics will be interesting to watch, and someday you might see OLPC go there too? But, not if they cave to those in some clueless areas of the world that were asking for a windows OLPC version too (that would need more RAM). I think that some 3rd world folks asked about Windows being able to be run too? In response the folks that lead OLPC have been quoted to have said that they would have a windows version BUT would install LINUX too in a dual boot (for the educational value)… TO DO DUAL BOOT LINUX AND WINDOWS on an OLPC… THEY NEED AT LEAST A 16 GB SSD… anything else is too small.

    Now at least OLPC can use a serious Office suite vs Abiword that does not use .odt as well as some others do…? AND for training all ages of students they need a version with a bigger keyboard at some point?

    I think that with more RAM, and 8 GB SSD (if a really fast one, as if slow then with the VIA chip like in the 2133 with the Novell SuSE on a 4GB slow and small SSD, the system will hang up and be way too slow for any productive use… Only thing that would work on a 2133 with 4GB SSD was Crunchbang Linux, and that would hang up too as the SSD was so slow. Could it be that there were obvious wait state issues (guessing, but that is usually the problem when in the past this happened on other systems as the chip, combined with small Cache and very slow drive access, was just not fast enough or large enough, for the code)?

    So – we shall see… >?

  • Mikez

    None of the major Linux distributions build a kernel for the C7-M processor – -
    But I do, usable with nearly any Linux distribution. ;) See forum postings.
    User-space programs (other than the graphics driver) can be stock i686 builds.

  • Pixel Qi fan in waiting

    Maybe – that they want to be able to dual boot install both Windows and Linux on this model… with the VIA they will be able to do that… with ARM however, there are no Windows OS builds such as one for XP, Vista, etc.

    The ARM direction, with some low power graphics will be interesting to watch, and someday you might see OLPC go there too? But, not if they cave to those in some clueless areas of the world that were asking for a windows OLPC version too (that would need more RAM). I think that some 3rd world folks asked about Windows being able to be run too? In response the folks that lead OLPC have been quoted to have said that they would have a windows version BUT would install LINUX too in a dual boot (for the educational value)… TO DO DUAL BOOT LINUX AND WINDOWS on an OLPC… THEY NEED AT LEAST A 16 GB SSD… anything else is too small.

    Now at least OLPC can use a serious Office suite vs Abiword that does not use .odt as well as some others do…? AND for training all ages of students they need a version with a bigger keyboard at some point?

    I think that with more RAM, and 8 GB SSD (if a really fast one, as if slow then with the VIA chip like in the 2133 with the Novell SuSE on a 4GB slow and small SSD, the system will hang up and be way too slow for any productive use… Only thing that would work on a 2133 with 4GB SSD was Crunchbang Linux, and that would hang up too as the SSD was so slow. Could it be that there were obvious wait state issues (guessing, but that is usually the problem when in the past this happened on other systems as the chip, combined with small Cache and very slow drive access, was just not fast enough or large enough, for the code)?

    So – we shall see… >?