OLPC is excited to announce that a refresh of the XO-1 laptop is in progress. In our continued effort to maintain a low price point, OLPC is refreshing the hardware to take advantage of the latest component technologies.
This refresh (Generation 1.5) is separate from the Generation 2.0 project, and will continue using the same industrial design and batteries as Gen 1. The design goal is to provide an overall update of the system within the same ID and external appearance.
In order to maximize compatibility with existing software, this refresh will continue with an x86 processor, using a chipset from VIA. The memory will be increased to 1 GB of DDR2 SDRAM, and the built-in storage will be 4 GB of NAND Flash with an option for 8 GB (installed at manufacture).
The processor will be a VIA C7-M, with plans on using one whose clock ranges from 400 MHz (1.5 W) to 1GHz (5 W). The clock may be throttled back automatically if necessary to meet thermal constraints.
The enabling chipset is hot off the fab line, the VX855. This single chip provides the memory interface, a 3D graphics engine, an HD video decoder, USB, SDIO, and other system interface and management functions, in a low power and small footprint package. One change induced by the chipset change is a move from AC'97 to HD Audio. This brings higher sampling rates and allows an upgrade to a stereo external microphone (and DC sensor) input.
The CaFE chip is being retired, and replaced with an external Flash management controller, possibly one of the low cost SSD controllers currently being tested. The camera will now be tied directly to the VX855's video capture port.
The network interface will be upgraded to an 88W8686, which will halve its power dissipation and move it to an SDIO interface (further dropping the power consumption). The current goal is to locate it in a removable module, allowing its replacement for repair.
It will remain powered while the laptop suspends, waking the laptop if a packet addressed to it arrives. It is likely that early production models will not directly support 802.11s (i.e. forwarding mesh packets while the interface is asleep), but we are working with Marvell on several different 802.11s solutions.
Gen 1.5 will continue with the existing display, although OLPC is working with PixelQi to try to improve the brightness and efficiency of the screen. The DCON is retained (even though the VX855 includes much of its functionality) as it provides the low power interface and the timing controller functions for the existing display.
Overall, the target is to match the Gen 1 XO-1 in power consumption while making aggressive suspend easier, and in price (while changing to components which are more likely to decrease in price). It is likely that both goals can be met.
We also expect the Gen 1.5 machines to ship with an OLPC 8.2.x software release, modified to support Gen 1.5's new hardware but otherwise unchanged from the current production software release and compatible with our current software in the field. Gen 1.5 machines will be deployed in environments already populated by Gen 1 machines, so seamless software interoperability is an important goal.
Early versions of the hardware (bare board) should be available for driver development at the end of May. A larger number of prototype laptops (several hundred) for software development and testing will become available around the end of August. The OLPC contributors program will be the preferred way of requesting a Gen 1.5 machine for testing your software for compatibility or development. We hope to use the contributors program to ensure Gen 1.5 support for the wide variety of application and OS solutions created for Gen 1.0.
We're excited to be finally able to make this news public. While members of the technical team have been working on this for several months, it was not until last week that we could with any certainty say that we were going to refresh the hardware and what that refresh was likely to be. We're now committed to this project and look forward to working with you to make it happen.
---John, Ed, and the OLPC Tech team.