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Handhelds The Almighty Buck Hardware

OLPC Gets $5.6M Grant To Develop Tablet With Marvell 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-hip-device-per-child dept.
tugfoigel writes "According to Xconomy, 'The One Laptop per Child Foundation and Santa Clara, CA-based semiconductor maker Marvell have cemented a partnership announced last spring, with Marvell agreeing to provide OLPC with $5.6 million to fund development of its next generation tablet computer. Nicholas Negroponte says the deal, signed in the past week or so but not previously announced, runs through 2011. "Their money is a grant to the OLPC Foundation to develop a tablet or tablets based on their chip," he says. The OLPC tablet ... is known as the XO 3 because it represents the third-generation of the XO laptop currently sold by OLPC (the foundation scrapped plans for its e-book-like XO 2 computer and is moving straight to the tablet). ... The deal, he says, means the tablet's development is "fully funded."'"
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OLPC Gets $5.6M Grant To Develop Tablet With Marvell

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  • by LetterRip (30937) on Monday October 04, 2010 @03:55PM (#33788208)

    Anyone else disappointed it wasn't a Marvel comics themed OLPC :)

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 04, 2010 @03:59PM (#33788238)

    The OLPC project went nowhere. They took money and work from the community, then they sold themselves to microsoft, and achieved none of all their goals. The project went nowhere.

    There are already awesome tablets like the aPad that exist right now and retail for less than 200 dollars. I'm sure you could drive them below 100 if you built enough and bought them altogether.

    Why are we still listening to the OLPC's pipe dreams about developing hardware? They already proved that they can't get anything done, and that they will sell out if necessary. Want to do something? The product you want is already out there. Buy it, drive its price down, and start delivering.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RocketRabbit (830691)

      OLPC should be a Linux distro that runs on any major architecture, and is slim enough that you can throw it on a used computer from 1998 and run it without issue. It should also run on the glut of shitty quality me-too tablets that have been "announced" since the iPad came out.

      What they need is something made of metal, with a metal screen protector, that opens up to expose a solar panel. That way the kids can prop the thing up in the window while they are outside playing, and when they get home it is all

      • That's a fabulous pile of should. Sadly, producing kid-ready products takes a little more work than that.

        Only one quibble from you list is that few of the target markets for OLPC had a computer in 1998, and thus it's not a good use case target. The hardware is new, but cheap.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      I used an OLPC for the first time at a free software event in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, The units they had were on loan from a school. It is a fantastic machine. Very rugged and attractive to children. I would probably prefer a stock ubuntu install instead of using the sugar UI, but the hardware is open so you can do that.

      I think its a shame more people didn't get an opportunity to buy them.

      • by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday October 04, 2010 @05:38PM (#33789106)
        I think its a shame more people didn't get an opportunity to buy them.

        Lots of people had an opportunity to buy them. "Buy one Give one", for example.

        The problem was OLPC was vaporware, at least as far as being able to provide the "buy one" that I tried to buy. They charged my credit card the day I ordered, then tried dragging the delivery date out until after the time limit for contesting the charge. They lied to me about delivery dates about three times, claiming they had them in stock one day, then two days later admitting they'd been out of stock for a month.

        I'd have cut them a lot of slack if they'd been honest about being able to provide what they charged me for, and didn't charge me until it shipped, but they shot themselves in both feet the way they did things.

        If they've gotten their act together now, good for them. Once burned, twice shy.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The OLPC project went nowhere. They took money and work from the community, then they sold themselves to microsoft, and achieved none of all their goals. The project went nowhere.

      Microsoft business as usual.

    • Did you miss the part where they put out 1.5 million laptops [wikipedia.org]?
      Yeah, a $100 target would have been better. Twice as good in fact.
      Sticking strictly with open and free is debatable. If they can wheedle a few million out of MS in exchange for some empty promices, so much the better.
      The product that they want IS the XO. It has a lot of nice features that other cheap laptops don't.

      Do they really need a tablet version? Shrug, I dunno. But to say that the OLPC project went nowhere is a bold faced lie. Just b
    • by westlake (615356)
      They took money and work from the community, then they sold themselves to microsoft, and achieved none of all their goals

      The XO was presented as a solution for every culture.

      The XO hardware.

      The FOSS software.

      The constructivist philosophy of education straight from the Western media lab.

      The education minister was not invited or encouraged to express any doubts.

      He only task was to sign the purchase order.

      The Microsoft pitch was simpler:

      We will sell you an OS and an office suite.

      The rest is up to you.

      We w

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by h4rr4r (612664)

        The Microsoft pitch was simpler:

        We will sell you an OS and an office suite, and give you a huge bribe.

        The rest is up to you.

        Fixed that for you.

      • by LingNoi (1066278)

        Just dumping computers on poor schools isn't what the OLPC project is about.

        Any charity that has gone in and just dumped a bunch of aid on a country (not in a disaster of course) has always been a failure, especially food aid. I watched a good ted talk from a women trying to get a village to help themselves out of poverty. Some douche bags ruined all her hard work by coming in dumping a bunch of food and then leaving. Suddenly everyone there stopped working on the farms and tada the cycle repeats itself.

        You

    • by DrXym (126579)
      There are already awesome tablets like the aPad that exist right now and retail for less than 200 dollars. I'm sure you could drive them below 100 if you built enough and bought them altogether.

      The aPad isn't awesome, but it does exist and is a functional tablet device that can be had for $100. I think it demonstrates that OLPC could produce a rugged 7" tablet for less than $100 and it would be great for kids. My own feeling however is that the hardware is the easy bit and it will be the software which wi

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Why would the OS need a rewrite? Only the user interface needs to know about touch.

        • by DrXym (126579)
          Because the OS in this case is a stripped down Red Hat distribution with X11 on top and it's not suitable for a tablet. It uses too much memory, takes too long to start and X11 is utterly unsuitable for touch. I expect Sugar is also woefully unsuited for touch devices and would require major work, especially if it has to be ported.

          There are embedded Linux dists which would be more suitable, or even Android which is built from the ground up for smart phones and touch devices.

          • by elgaard (81259)

            X11 does not take that much memory and works fine with touch screens.

            I had a G.Mate YOPY (still have it, but not used it for years).

            It has 128 MByte RAM and a touch screen. And X runs just fine. You could run OpenOffice remote over X.

      • Yeah, the question is, why the fuck do we need the olpc project then? The hardware is already out there. Do you want a tougher *Pad? add a rubber case.

        The software was heavily developed by the community (until olpc sold out to microsoft). Now we have android. So OLPC software is rendered obsolete.

        So, why do we need OLPC again?

        • by DrXym (126579)
          Yeah, the question is, why the fuck do we need the olpc project then? The hardware is already out there. Do you want a tougher *Pad? add a rubber case.

          Any device for children has an exacting list of requirements for hardware, software, localization, educational curricula, infrastructure for administration / distribution / repair and all the bureaucracy that goes along with it.

          I'm sure you could stick a rubber case on an aPad but that doesn't make it fit for the task.

    • The OLPC project went nowhere.

      Actually, it went to the countries that chose to by the systems.

      They took money and work from the community, then they sold themselves to microsoft

      No, they didn't sell themselves to anybody.

      and achieved none of all their goals.

      "None of all" is a kind of weird construction, but they did, in fact, acheive much of what they set out to do in terms of getting computers, software, and content into the hands of students outside of the first world to enable education on the constructiv

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Marvell can't even release proper (signed) 64 bit drivers for their wifi cards [nearlydeaf.com]. Don't expect this proposition to go anywhere, ever.

    • Looking at the product, it's available for $139.
    • The OLPC project went nowhere. They took money and work from the community, then they sold themselves to microsoft, and achieved none of all their goals. The project went nowhere.

      Not this old bullshit again. OLPC didn't "sell out to Microsoft" any more than, for example, Linux Emporium or System76 has. You can install Windows on an OLPC laptop (apparently, though I've never seen the process) & you can install Windows on a Linux Emporium or System76 laptop. Nobody ever does install Windows on an OLPC though, since every one of the million+ laptops out there is running Linux.

      There are already awesome tablets like the aPad that exist right now and retail for less than 200 dollars. I'm sure you could drive them below 100 if you built enough and bought them altogether.

      And there were plenty of laptops around when OLPC was first announced. What's your point? Are you yet anoth

  • So will they cave in and make it Windows compatible?

    Seems to me that a nice low-power ARM OLPC would be a lot more useful in a low-tech environment. The battery would last longer anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      When you are satisfying consumer demand, is it caving?

      • by miffo.swe (547642)

        Consumer demands and what happens in IT are two very different things. People want applications, not an OS. The OS is just like a disk, a memory module or some other mindnumbingly boring thing. As long as it runs your applications, works well and stays the hell out of the way people couldnt care less about what OS they run.

        Using Windows is not possible if your goal is to make a computer that just works without loads of management and fuzzing about. Managementwise, it really sucks.

      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        When you are satisfying consumer demand, is it caving?

        Depends on your point of view. From the point of view of their (ex) development community, most of whom walked away when they fastened on to the Microsoft's teat, yup, they caved like a nun bluffing on a pair of nines.

        • by ChatHuant (801522)

          Depends on your point of view. From the point of view of their (ex) development community, most of whom walked away when they fastened on to the Microsoft's teat, yup, they caved like a nun bluffing on a pair of nines.

          I fail to see why this matters; the machines were not intended to give the "developer community" (whatever that is) the warm fuzzies; they were intended to help kids in underdeveloped countries get access to technology and education, and better their lives. If using Windows opens more doors f

          • by Rogerborg (306625)

            And it's exactly that "screw the developer community" attitude that killed XO-1 as an interesting platform.

            Here's the crib notes: if you're going to ship a Windows device, you just order a million EEE PCs and sell them at cost, with a solar cell to charge the battery. Heck, you could ship Linux distros on them. XO-1 was always a vanity project, and when it went Windows, it ceased being of any interest to the people who could have helped make it succeed.

            • The EEE (and any other netbook) PCs are far too fragile and not repairable by end users to the same degree that the X0-1 is. If I wanted to ship a computer to kids, the XO-1 is still a great choice, even running Windows.

      • In this case, it wasn't "consumers" who wanted Windows on the XO, it was Microsoft and their local lobbyists.

        Windows is a maintenance nightmare. These kids would end up as part of a botnet faster than you can say Ballmer.

    • by mirix (1649853)

      Well if they're getting funding from Marvell, I'm betting it has "must run ARM" is somewhere in the contract.

  • Actually, the core of the Marvell CPU is incredible. It's bus width and speed are what hamstring it.

    Imagine if Usain Bolt was beat with a whip every day. He wouldn't be a very fast runner after a while.

    • The speed of the core doesn't really matter that much for rural learning. If these kids need to do galactic simulations, the OLPC project can pitch in and buy some time on a big service like EC2.

      • The OS still needs to be supported, as well as any peripherals. That can't be dumped off to the cloud.

        • With Linux the OS supports itself. Teach the kids how to use man and apropos and ls and cd, and they can take care of the rest themselves. This is how I learned Unix when I was a kid.

          My point was, for the usual desktop things, an old PC works fine. If they need tons of CPU horsepower because they figured out a possible cure for AIDS, then they can dump that problem off somewhere that has the horsepower to deal with the problem.

          • by LingNoi (1066278)

            How can you teach kids to use man when they don't even know how to read english let alone their own language? You seem to be completely missing the point of the OLPC project. It's not to make a ton of unix hackers, its to better the education of children is rural schools that receive little funding for books, paper and quality teachers.

            The OS is the tool. Nothing else.

  • These clowns couldn't get the XO-1 out without getting way too cozy with Microsoft and abandoning everything which made geeks interested in it. They wouldn't get the XO-2 out of R&D because the tablet is the new hotness. Whatever. They will tank it out too. If you want my attention, scrap sugar and put on Android. Otherwise don't bother.
    • "scrap sugar and put on Android. Otherwise don't bother."

      No, no, no. Put on android, and put Sugar on that. Sugar's not an OS, and I hear it's nice. Development of sugar shouldn't slow down production of the tablet, and the obvious way to develop a tablet quickly is to use the Android (and Linux) drivers already available. Get it up quick with Android (or Linux) and then work on Sugar on that. The teams shouldn't overlap.

    • These clowns couldn't get the XO-1 out without getting way too cozy with Microsoft and abandoning everything which made geeks interested in it.

      That attidude made the XO a plaything for the geek - when what it was meant to be was a learning aid for the grade school child.

  • That chip is really, really good. I've tried it for several projects, and even though it came second to the freescale CPU's because of the requirements - if there wouldn't have been those requirements (of the industrial kind), then that marvell chip would've won out. Big time.

    • That must be second in a two chip race, because both NVidia's Tegra and Qualcomm's Snapdragon are leaps and bounds ahead of Marvell and Freescale as far as features and performance goes. Price is a different story, of course.

      Scorpion core is amazing. It's just too bad about the rest of the SoC.

      • Duh, not Scorpion core.

        Shiva core.

      • "[Shiva] core is amazing. It's just too bad about the rest of the SoC."

        Can you take a few minutes to elaborate? Why is Shiva so wonderful, and what stinks about the rest of the system on a chip? What's weak? What does it not offer?

        Also I get that Tegra and Snapdragon are much faster than Marvell's stuff, but what features are they offering (besides good video/GPU) that Marvell's SoC lacks?

        Sounds like you have some helpful experience. Please share.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

          I will admit off the bat that my info is about 9 months old, and I know that Marvell was working on fixing the main problem of their SoC, namely it's 16 bit bus width. While the core itself is really fast (I'm sure you've been shown the raw performance metrics), the limited memory bandwidth means that the CPU is idling most of the time waiting for instructions to cache. Once they are cached, as in most "core benchmarks", it turns out performance at almost Atom speeds.

          Marvell had a specific niche market in m

          • Thanks for the info.

            A quick Google suggests that Marvell's been busy, and that they have some higher-performance designs now, but maybe that's just buzz control. And we don't know what would be going into the OLPC, as they stray away from the Moby reference design (to something LOWER cost?), or whether Marvell will improve things.

            Were you looking at the Armada 600 (which is in the current Moby reference) or some other Sheeva-based (Armada?) SoC from Marvell?

        • BTW, for the money, Freescale probably has the best cost/performance ratio of any ARMv7 CPU out there.

  • The tablet market is already crushing itself to a zero margins race to the bottom even before the first Android tablets hit the shelves. The sweet spot for tablets is going to be $150.

    With OLPC and Marvell getting into this, we can expect fairly good tablets with usable screens and good interfaces to be pushed closer to $100, and everyone will have to figure out how to follow suit or die.

    I am happy about this because I am not a tablet manufacturer. I anticipate being a tablet user, though, and probably a

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      You mean like the "$100" XO-1, which you could obtain retail for the sum of $400? I wouldn't hold out for that $100 sweet spot if I were you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wonkavader (605434)

        Heck yeah. The OLPC guys came out with a neato box for $200, and you had to buy one buy buying two (on for you, one for a kid). They missed their mark by something like a factor of two, but definitely came up with a bunch of good ideas for an educational device, and a cheap one, at that.

        Sure they'll miss the mark on this one, too. But it'll still push the industry downward. It won't take much innovation to get prices even lower, but it will take some. OLPC will provide some of that.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          How does selling a "$100" device for $400 in any wah "push the industry downward"? If anything, it shows that there's a market for massively overpriced, over-hyped devices.
    • See, I must disagree. The only successful tablet that you can buy is from Apple. Everybody and their mother put their toe in the tablet water, mainly to benefit the shareholders by appearing to take some action, but nobody other than Archos has a decently priced tablet yet, and the Archos sucks.

      The tablet race only has one runner in it, and a guy in a wheelchair, and about sixty thousand ghosts who appear to move no more swiftly than a piece of fluff in a light breeze.

  • by feenberg (201582) on Monday October 04, 2010 @04:33PM (#33788514)

    The good news is that the Marvel chip won't support Windows.

    The bad news is that the child with an OLPC while she may learn to do art on her computer, won't learn to do anything helpful in any labor market on earth. With a tablet, she won't even learn to touch type. I know that the project wants to prepare her for more self-actualizing career, such as poet, designer, president or CIO, very few will have that opportunity if they can't get an entry level job in the urban sector.

    • Uh... maybe she won't be a grunt laborer then? Maybe she'll sell out her artistic ability?
      Did you know that there are people online who live off of donations in exchange for regular updates? It's a mysterious world called webcomics [wikipedia.org]. I suggest you check it out.


      (and having successfully distracted my foe for the foreseeable future, I'm now claiming victory).
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      won't learn to do anything helpful in any labor market on earth

      Wow. Right. So, access to the web including sites such as Wikipedia will do nothing to prepare her for the larger world. Rapid, low cost communication won't help either. Diverse news sources that provide perspective to villagers are equally pointless. Only if it runs MS Office and Windows 7 is it of any use.

      Jeebus.

    • I haven't found that my inability to use a slide rule has negatively impacted my career.

      • by willyg (159173)

        Fascinating...

        Likewise, I haven't found that my ABILITY to use a slide rule has *positively* impacted my career.

        But, they were still pushing them when I went to school. Now, Get Off My Lawn...

      • by timeOday (582209)
        But there is no known replacement for the keyboard.

        Websurfing is not going to raise any nation from poverty.

    • How is the parent comment interesting?

      The child-driven education [ted.com]
      As long as they have access to information especially access to the internet they will learn a lot. That video IS interesting.
    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      The OLPC gives a child in a rural area an opportunity to have a better education then otherwise.

      I live in Thailand where news came out recently that 80% of teachers failed their own subjects they were teaching. Books get donated to rural schools however because all the books are donated they aren't the same so it makes teaching a class incredibly difficult. Knowing English here significantly increases your chances of getting a better job or education however there are no good english teachers in villages be

    • The good news is that the Marvel chip won't support Windows.

      The bad news is that the child with an OLPC while she may learn to do art on her computer, won't learn to do anything helpful in any labor market on earth. With a tablet, she won't even learn to touch type. I know that the project wants to prepare her for more self-actualizing career, such as poet, designer, president or CIO, very few will have that opportunity if they can't get an entry level job in the urban sector.

      Erm... how about she can learn Maths, Science, programming, engineering, etc. etc.? How about she Googles for a better way to sanitise water, or look after cattle, or for the price of bread in the nearest towns? How about she uses it to contact people who can give her advice on how to care for her sick mother? Do you seriously think computers exist so that people can learn to touch type??!

  • Oh wait.... Darn [marvell.com]

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