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Intel joins AMD-backed $100 laptop bid

One Laptop Per Child gets key new backer

The two laptops serve different needs, with the XO laptop more focused on the needs of children who live off the main power grids, Bender said. Over time, he expects to see a family of laptops appear all aimed at schoolchildren and their diverse requirements. Some of the computers will be powered by Intel, some by AMD and some by other companies including Marvell Technology Gorup, he added.

The agreement doesn't have anything to do with Intel making chips for the XO laptop, although should the contract to provide silicon for the device be up for grabs, Intel would naturally be interested, Swope said. AMD, an OLPC board member, is supplying its Geode processors for the machine.

"We're definitely excited by this change of heart [by Intel] and welcome their contributions," said Rebecca Gonzales, director of marketing communications at AMD. "We're happy to have them as part of the group." AMD has long said that the technology divide that OLPC is trying to bridge with its XO laptop can't be achieved by a single entity, Gonzales added.

AMD has worked closely with the other corporate members of OLPC, which include Brightstar, eBay, Google, News Corp, Nortel Networks, Quanta Computer and Red Hat. AMD is looking forward to Intel joining the board and providing a fresh take on the project, Gonzales said.

Intel isn't disclosing all the conditions of its membership in OLPC. Swope noted that a number of other IT vendors are lining up to join the project under the same terms as Intel and OLPC doesn't want to disclose those specifics until those other companies have also become members.

Bender said that OLPC is in "very serious conversations" with three more companies, which are all household names, but he wouldn't reveal their identities.

Intel also isn't revealing how much it's investing in OLPC and that figure may remain undisclosed, Swope said.

OLPC has struggled to bring its ambitious project to fruition.

Initially, the organisation had hoped to begin selling its laptop at $100, but that's proved impossible initially given spiralling production costs. The laptop is being manufactured by Quanta, with the Taiwanese vendor hoping to produce 1 million computers by the end of 2007.

OLPC is currently in talks with the governments in 30 countries, Bender said, including Peru. If the project continues to see enough demand for the laptop elsewhere around the globe, it will make the XO laptop available outside the developing world, he added, for instance, to US states.


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