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New OLPC deets: 500 MHz, 128MB RAM, Windows CE and no hand crank

Marc Perton
04.04.06
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Given that a number of companies have been boasting of their computing plans for the developing world in recent weeks, it's kind of a relief to see Nicholas Negroponte back in the spotlight talking up the One Laptop Per Child project. Especially when he's willing to be so free with the box's specs. Speaking at the LinuxWorld conference in Boston, Negroponte shed some light on his plans for the OLPC, including more concrete specs than we've seen before. The mini-laptop will be powered by a 500 MHz AMD processor, will have 128MB RAM and 512MB of flash memory for storage. It'll also include an LCD display that will switch from an 1180x830 black-and-white mode for daylight viewing to 640x480 color for indoor use. He also revealed that, despite Bill Gates' reservations about the OLPC project, Negroponte is working with Microsoft on a version of Windows CE that will work on the computer. Negroponte also said the laptops will be extremely stingy when it comes to power consumption, using just 2 watts, one of which will run the display. However, despite that low power, he said that one of the most recognizable features of the original OLPC prototype (above), its handcrank, will have to go -- not because it can't generate enough power, but because it would put too much stress on the box (more recent prototypes have already jettisoned the crank). However, an adapter to allow the machine to run on pedal power is planned. Negroponte also had some bad news for his hosts at LinuxWorld (as if anything could be worse than saying he supports Windows CE): he said the penguin OS is as bloated as Windows, and will need to slim down to run on the OLPC. We suspect that his words didn't go over very well -- and that a half-dozen open-source projects to shrink Linux down to size were started within an hour.

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