Microsoft Windows 7 on the XO-1.5 with VIA C7-M?

   
   
   
   
   

With the XO-1.5 hardware announcement, where OLPC is switching from the AMD Geode to the VIA C7-M, we have an interesting possibility with Microsoft. We could see Windows 7, instead of Windows XP on the XO.

olpc windows 7

First, the VIA C7-M processor was HP's original choice for its HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, which came with Windows XP. So we know the VIA will support Microsoft's current operating system choice for the XO. But thanks to the ingenuity of others, we have reviews of Windows 7 on the HP 2133 and the overall opinion from Liliputing is:

The computer boots up a bit faster with Windows 7 than Vista, but slower than with Windows XP. The system is reportedly more responsive under Windows 7 than Vista.

Yes, kids, the C7-M means the XO 1.5 could also theoretically support Vista, but I really doubt anyone wants to actualize that vision. What I do want to see is video playback with a XO-1.5 using the VIA VX855 Media System Processor. VIA says that it:

Offers full hardware acceleration of the widest variety of leading video standards including H.264, MPEG-2/4, DivX and WMV9, allowing smooth playback of high bit-rate 1080p HD video.

Smooth HD video sounds hot! Like the XO as the movie screen for the developing world if its performance anything like the Chrome 7 powered 2133, which supported DVD riping and even Hulu video in full screen mode.


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19 Comments

Anyone cares to comment on the heat issues with Via C7-M? Heat means a lot of power required, isn't it?

http://www.google.com/search?q=VIA+C7-M+%22very+hot%22

Yama,

Heat will be an issue, but I think they can work with that through stepping the processor. It also comes with its own internal fan, which they could still seal inside the case, so its water/dust resistant.

But yeah, heat (and battery life) will be an issue.

It also comes with its own internal fan, which they could still seal inside the case, so its water/dust resistant.

Do you understand how fans work? If they are sealed inside the case, there won't be any cooling action. In fact the power consumed by the fan will both increase the internal temperature, and increase battery draw.

The system will either have to be designed so the fan can work (and be easily serviced), or designed to take full advantage of passive cooling (by having an all metal heatsink case or something. Even if they normally come with fans, if you have a fanless design, and are buying them in volume, I'm sure Via will sell you some without fans.

I am still puzzled a bit about this whole thing...

My geek side is loving the upgrade. and it probably is a pretty good marketing move as well.

But is this really a realistic move for the development world and even more important... the recipient of current models?

I mean... the hardware performance difference is going to be noticeably different and it is going to be extremely hard for developers to strike a balance between the older model and the new one.

At best, I can see that the new apps and updates of old ones will be made to mainly run on 1.0 (who has time and $$ to deploy two different versions that utilizes different spec of the system?).

Worst case scenario I see is that the apps are going to be severely separated for each "platforms" (let's face it... they are completely different level of hardwares) that it will be a huge confusing factor for users world wise.

I am sorry I am being so negative here. But I really don't see a practical product scenario all the way from development to being released in the current market.

I think ideal upgrade for one generation of hardware should be kept like what Nintendo did with their DS line up. DS "Phat" -> DS Lite -> DSi...

Critical hardware specs are virtually the same (except DSi... debatably). Upgrades center around solving the issues and problems as adapting to current status of the market and audience.

And sometimes less is more, and older is newer, if we follow the Nintendo analogy, take a look at
http://playpower.org/
where extremely legacy concepts are getting a new breath. Sometimes a well set minimalist approach is better than a less defined one, and anyway vastly superior to a complex nebulous option.
Also look at http://www.innovationsforlearning.org/html/teachermate.html
for making it simple, and thanks to it being connected with reality as to curricular needs, making it useful.

Oh yeah, "Vista Capable". Where have I heard that before?

BTW, VIA CPU are notorious for having lowest performance per megahertz of all x86 CPU on the market -- last time I used them (it was C3, predecessor of this CPU) literally 2 VIA MHz was an equivalent of 1 Intel MHz. They are great for small embedded systems where Geode graphics capabilities would be unnecessary.

There is also a matter of graphics adapter that should be in a separate chip (and taking additional power). And the fact that Windows would require hardware flash wear leveling because it does not support that in software and apparently no one at Microsoft is working on it.

So yes, it will be a faster computer, but not by much, and Windows Vista/7 will run poorly if at all.

The C7-M should be quite a bit faster than the Geode LX and combined with the additional RAM and (hopefully!) faster Flash controller overall system performance should be noticably improved.

However I do agree that Windows 7 probably won't be too speedy and enjoyable an experience on the XO-1.5.

RAM -- yes. Performance of almost all modern software is mostly limited by RAM and the time necessary to access it. XO 1.5 will have both larger and FASTER RAM.

CPU -- no. Speed increase will be marginal. I think, the whole CPU upgrade is caused by new RAM type.

Flash (as in ROM) -- we have pretty much the same performance with SD cards, and it's not fast at all. Also you can't swap onto built-in flash because it can't be replaced once it will wear out, no matter how cheap flash itself is.

> CPU -- no. Speed increase will be marginal. I think, the whole CPU upgrade is caused by new RAM type.

Depending on the exact clock-speed, power-throttling, type of processing, etc. I expect the C7-M to offer somewhere between 20% and 150% extra performance compared to the the Geode LX700.

> Flash (as in ROM) -- we have pretty much the same performance with SD cards, and it's not fast at all.

I was under the impression that the CaFE chip was partially to blame for the lackluster r/w access to the Flash memory and SD card... But maybe I'm confusing something here.

> Also you can't swap onto built-in flash because it can't be replaced once it will wear out, no matter how cheap flash itself is.

Well, considering that the wireless chip will also be replaceable this time 'round who knows whether that might also be possible with the Flash memory... ;-)

> Depending on the exact clock-speed, power-throttling, type of processing, etc. I expect the C7-M to offer somewhere between 20% and 150% extra performance compared to the the Geode LX700.

20% is realistic from the new CPU, the rest _may_ happen due to RAM.

> I was under the impression that the CaFE chip was partially to blame for the lackluster r/w access to the Flash memory and SD card... But maybe I'm confusing something here.

If so, flash on USB or SD would be able to achieve much higher speeds, but as far as I remember, they all were similar in my tests.

>Well, considering that the wireless chip will also be replaceable this time 'round who knows whether that might also be possible with the Flash memory... ;-)

One thing is to replace a chip on 1-5% of computers where it failed. Another is to do it for 100% of laptops every year -- suddenly SD cards become a much cheaper solution.

Currently the motherboard is entirely too slow to do much of anything. That and it loves to seize up. Having the 1.0, I wouldn't mind if my XO became orphaned in the name of putting a working and faster motherboard into the units. Although it would be nice if we were allowed to upgrade our motherboards :)

>That and it loves to seize up.

WHAT??????

It loves to seize up - it crashes to where it needs to be rebooted. I found that simply running one thing at a time keeps it from happening. SoaS, on the other hand, doesn't do that. I run tons of things at the same time without any problems across 3 different machines (non XO).

Just sayin.

That's not "seizing up", that's "running out of memory". Board is "seized up" if CPU or any of its buses can't complete cycle or transaction.

You must be mistaken. 256MB of RAM is more than enough for Linux. Only Microsoft bloat could chew up that much RAM.

-Owner of several PCs with 256MB RAM that work fine with WindowsXP and no swap file

> -Owner of several PCs with 256MB RAM that work fine with WindowsXP and no swap file

Oh, another Microsoft troll (see this guy's responses to other articles).

Running applications without swap requires more RAM than the total size of the applications' writable segments. No OS can change that.

Running more than one modern Windows application would inevitably exceed 256M, too, so at best you are describing a very old configuration, at worst (and most likely) you are lying.

What, there's no way Windows could run on 256MB of RAM, NO WAY!!!!!! This must be a TROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Linux rules!!!!!!!!!

Get real. Why don't you try it some time. Shutdown unnecessary programs, and see how much RAM is needed:
http://i42.tinypic.com/vy03us.jpg

256MB RAM, no page file:
Paint shop pro
PDF xChange Viewer
Internet Exploder
Word 2007
Excel 2007

All with documents open.

"Shutdown unnecessary programs" IS something you have to do to avoid running out of RAM.

Did you just concede your primary point, THEN acted as if you somehow vindicated yourself? What kind of moron would do such a thing? Doesn't it mean that you are more interested in "creating impression" of a valid point rather than making one?

Of course, this has very little to do with XO laptop, or resources necessary to run educational software written in Python, or claims that its boars is prone to "seizing".

"claims that its boars is prone to 'seizing'"

I'm not sure that is a sentence. If you want to call it running out of memory very quickly so be it. I can't be on chat and run turtle typing at the same time. I can, however, run terminal and TT but usually have to exit out to make sure. I consider that very limiting.

The issue is that for just a little more ram the machine wouldn't do that. For a little faster CPU it would be awesome. In other words, the XO 1.5 sounds like what the 1.0 should have been.

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