First XO-2 Mockup Spotted at WEF in Davos


It was in January 2005 that Nicholas Negroponte first presented the idea of a "$100 laptop" at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Now, 4 years later, the first blurry phone-cam photo of the dual-touchscreen XO-2 laptop which was first announced in May of 2008 are floating around the 'net.

Talk about a blurry image!

There's not much more information out there at the moment except that people are saying that it's a non-working mockup. My first impression is that it was very quickly thrown together since the green plastic enclosure very much looks like someone with a well-stocked tool-shed went to town on an XO-1 to produce it. Also as engadget put it the "touchscreen" looks a bit too much like "glued-on paper".

Wayan thinks that by showing off that mockup OLPC

"could re-capture the imagination and momentum of the developing world educational institutions and drive the entire technology industry - again!"

I have a slightly difference point of view. In my mind showing off such a product that early in the game - remember, it's going to be at least 12 months before the XO-2 will be available - might sacrifice crucial sales of the currently available XO-1 hardware. And if there's one thing that OLPC can't afford at the moment then it's losing sales by getting potential customers excited about a product that only exists in the form of a piece of plastic.

In related news Infoworld reports that AMD:

"has no replacement planned for the aging Geode low-power chip, creating uncertainty for its use in products like future XO laptops made by One Laptop Per Child. [...] Without an updated version of the Geode, AMD may struggle to win a contract to supply the next-generation OLPC laptop, the XO-2."

This doesn't really comes as a surprise and like many people (e.g. charbax;-) have been pointing out for quite some time now the XO-2 might be based around a non-x86 architecture in order to meet its critical targets in terms of price, power consumption and performance.

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With the graininess of the image, I can't be sure if its a real live XO-2 laptop or another One Laptop Per Child mock-up like the original hand crank... [more]

Yes, I called it two months ago. I said OLPC is looking for a non-X86 architecture, probably ARM, where several providers can provide the processor.... [more]

While One Laptop Per Child is promoting a two-screen mock-up as the next generation XO laptop, Pixel Qi - Mary Lou Jepsen's company founded to commercialize the XO screen - is showing off the real XO-2, here and now: netbooks with the XO's dual mode sc... [more]


OLPC is looking for I believe probably a non X86 architecture, probably ARM, where several providers can provide the processor. Using ARM Cortex, OLPC can use any of Texas Instruments, Mavell, Freescale, Samsung, Qualcomm, Nvidia and others, all interchangeably, independently of the deals that will be put in place. The idea being that having all these ARM Cortex providers being more or less compatible with each other, enabling minimal changes in motherboard designs to have them all be compatible, this enables competition in the processor market. This will more quickly drive the prices down much further. This is the only way you can optimize the interpretation of Moore's law which says that you can cut the price and power consumption of laptops by half every 18 months.

There is a basic reason AMD is not too enthusiastic about this whole new low cost laptop market. The reason is written on the wall, everyones can see it coming, cheaper laptops means it will be much harder to find profits in the industry. AMD isn't exactly having an easy time already as things are today, Intel's profit margins and overall income have shrinked 90% in 2008 compared to 2007.

I believe OLPC should use Google Android with Sugar on top, and they should increasingly rely on cloud computing such as the recently rumored Google Web Drive service to store and share all the data on. With XO-2, you should much further synchronize the way the school servers synch storage, processing power and contents to and from the cloud. Basically what you get is an overly simplified Internet access terminal, one with a small ARM Cortex processor behind the next generation of even lower power and lower cost Pixel Qi screens. One that just relies on basic Google Gears for local content caching, and let most of the rest happen using the much cheaper cloud.

$100 laptops using ARM are possible today already. Chinese GPS manufacturers are making them already using uber simple Linux and last generation MIPS or ARM processors:

This makes it obvious that OLPC can achieve a $75 price point on XO-2, consider also the advantage of using a dual touch-screen, is that ou can even more easilly mass manufacture exactly the same model for the whole world. Since all the different keyboard layouts and all of the local interfaces are simply going to be a software function of the touchscreens. Mary-Lou Jepsen has done it once already. She can do it again.

I think you are probably right about ARM, as we have been discussing here

There is the problem, though, that olpc wants to support Windows, and it doesn run on ARM, except for the very second rate Windows CE/Mobile. However, the $200 Freescale ARM netbooks that are coming out later this year will probably force Microsoft to port something.

If XO-2 ships with Google Android on ARM, Microsoft could lobby to have Windows Mobile work on it.

But also, an ARM XO-2 could perfectly well stream a virtual desktop environment delivered from the school server or from the cloud.

Going with another architecture may be a great idea, however I wouldn't rely on cloud computing.

Deployment areas may not have internet

XO-2 should not only have a new version of WiFi meshing, it should also come with a 700mhz based White Spaces antenna. These new 700mhz based Internet systems are much cheaper than any other HSDPA, WiMax or Satellite based systems. Developing countries should skip installing those old fashioned models and jump directly to near-free wireless broadband using directly the 700mhz UHF spectrum instead of only using it for TV.

That would be the deployment regulation by the Governments when deploying XO-2 in those third world countries.

You can have a similar 1GB internal memory for a few Sugar applications and an SDHC memory expansion slot. But the bulk of the XO-2 students storage should be stored on the cloud. The cloud can start at the school server level like XO-1 does it. But with XO-2, this integration of Cloud Computing should be further improved.

The idea of using the Cloud could also let students virtualize desktop environments on their XO-2 from any of the existing OS be it Microsoft or Apple as well.

charbax, to assume that a cloud-based inexpensive laptop will be a viable solution for developing nations in the forseeable future is a pipe dream. Even offloading some computation to a school cloud-server seems like a questionable idea to me. It might work with Thin Client setups but not with laptops.

The installation of ubiquituous and free wireless broadband must be an imperative to the deployment of OLPC XO-2 in developping countries.

Monopolistic control on HSDPA or WiMax networks must be dropped. And in should come a new type of free wireless 700mhz networking. XO-2 should use the TV spectrum, it's the best spectrum for wireless broadband. In fact, one base station for a 1-mile 700mhz network coverage costs below $50 to mass produce, then simply pull some fiber-optic cables or use fixed WiMax or two-way Satellite connections to bride the rest of the gap.

Grid computing would only be a part of it, like for encoding high definition videos, editing those, rendering graphics, animations, or streaming streaming advanced 3D game contents. Cloud computing is also great to vitualize any type of desktop such as X86 versions of Linux, Windows or Mac. Though the most useful usage of cloud computing is for hosting light applications such as all of the Google web-apps and for storage of all pictures, videos and other large files.

You can build an asynchroneous Google Gears enabled web browser on the $75 XO-2 which will load web apps instantly regardless of networking stability, and it will automatically synchronize data from the web apps according to network availability. And that same asynchroneous process can be built into local school servers on which all students can automatically share a few hundred GB of data storage.

The XO-2 will only be successful if OLPC makes it widely available. (Meaning you can buy it even in Wall-Mart)

The XO-1 could have been much more successful if sold for, say, $250 everywhere.

The screens should be bigger and the gap between the much smaller. I saw a Samsung netbook prototype 1-2 years ago with 2 displays is a foldable arrangement and there was virtually no gap between them.

The big problem with the XO-1 was not sales of hardware, it was lack of software, and related educational methodology.

As for the XO-2 becoming a great commercial success, let's remember that Pixel Qi is also designing rather similar machines for commercial oem's that would compete with it.

@eduardo montez:
"As for the XO-2 becoming a great commercial success, let's remember that Pixel Qi is also designing rather similar machines for commercial oem's that would compete with it."

Competition is great!

ICT only works with large volumes.