Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

AMD Cuts Personal Internet Communicator 114

Posted by Zonk
from the making-way-for-the-new-thing dept.
DaGiants writes "AMD has killed the Personal Internet Communicator (PIC), one of the first major efforts at designing ultra low-cost PCs for the third world. Ars Technica reports that AMD decided to pull the plug, taking a loss on the project. AMD can't be too disappointed though, as the OLPC uses AMD's Geode x86 processor, and delivers a lot more for much less. While OLPC gets most of the attention these days, AMD's role in spurring interest in low-cost PCs for developing nations can't be overlooked."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AMD Cuts Personal Internet Communicator

Comments Filter:
  • Good decision (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Salvance (1014001) * on Sunday November 12, 2006 @09:40PM (#16818514) Homepage Journal
    Considering that low-end desktop computers (w/ monitors and software) are now running in the $300 range from large computer vendors, it's tough to make a business case for selling $250 computers to third world countries ... so it sounds like they made the right decision. Either that, or they realized that since even Negroponte's $140 alternative wasn't really catching on, there'd be no way that a $250 machine would.
    • 299 Laptop (Score:5, Informative)

      by ghoul (157158) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:37PM (#16818928)
      Forget Desktops I saw a 299 dollar Celeron laptop at Walmart today. And you can pretty much assemble your own computer for 200 dollars in India so a 250 dollar PIC is kind of dead. And if AMD actually ramps up and starts producing chips at its Bangalore contractor factory we can look forward to even cheaper chips
      • by Darundal (891860)
        ...Unless someone happens to not be technologically literate...(sounds funny, I know, but think of the reaction on any non-techies face even MENTIONING the idea of building a computer...)
        • by Chris Burke (6130)
          ...Unless someone happens to not be technologically literate..

          Don't you think you could get someone to assemble a computer for you for less than $50 labor in India? I do.

          I remember that the day I heard the PIC was going to go for $250, there was a $200 PC in the Fry's circular. This was a couple years ago, but it was still a fully-fledged PC with capabalities far beyond the PIC. I knew then PIC was a failure. Now, I think the idea was that people wouldn't be paying $250 and get the PIC, but rather that
        • I think 'assembling' is probably a better word, but they'd still cringe..
      • by ripcrd (31538)
        Go cheap labor!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Russ Nelson (33911)
      The problem wasn't just the price, it was that they didn't want to cut into sales on their more profitable processors, so they didn't sell the PIC into US markets.
    • by morcego (260031) *
      Here is some data for Brazil:
      US$ 250,00 = R$ 550,00 (aprox)

      That, obviously, would not be the price for the local marking. Considering taxes and everything (transport etc), that would easilly double the price. Lets be nice, tho, and consider it would run for US$ 400,00 (R$ 880,00) since the government would drop the taxes a bit (yeah, right).

      These days, you can find a basic computer (Celeron, 256MB, monitor, CD writer, 15" monitor etc) for about R$ 850,00. R$ 900,00 with Windows. A bit more if you want to pa
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by msisamonopoly (908159)
      "Negroponte's $140 alternative wasn't really catching on ..."

      Hmm, have you been living under a rock?

      There is already a MOU for 1.2 million units from Libya. Nevertheless, given that the product is still pre-production, your statement is akin to someone postulating that Windows Vista hasn't caught on because you can't buy it in a shop as yet.
    • I just don't get this whole thing about supplying cheap computers to developing countries. It probably just gets a lot of press on the internet because it's something geeks can relate to a little better than starvation, typhoid and malaria. But anyone who's ever actually been outside of a developed country knows that cheap computers are a hell of a long way down the list of needful things. When you've got kids dying by the thousands of ... diarrhea ... then things like clean water, decent food, and sanit
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xappax (876447)
        It's hard to believe you're not trolling, since you're so aggressively and pointedly wrong - but I suspect you just haven't been following the story, or the situation is many developing countries.

        it's something geeks can relate to a little better than starvation, typhoid and malaria. But [...] cheap computers are a hell of a long way down the list of needful things

        It's true that there are many people who die of disease and starvation in the third world. Over a million are expected to die in central A
        • by ghoul (157158)
          Many villages are prosperous because of a single factory providing jobs

          You sure you are not speaking of Detroit?
      • by ghoul (157158)
        Give me a fish I eat a day. Show me how to fish I eat everyday. Medicines and Food handouts dont make the people self sufficient. But even one working computer with net access in a village (run by human pedal power if needed) can radically change the lives of the farmers by giving them information on long term weather forecasts so they know what crops to plant , market prices so they know what price they can demand from the middleman, access to government records and applications so they dont have to waste
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @09:44PM (#16818550)
    When building low-end devices based on boards like Geode, margins are so razor thin for the OEMs that it generally requires the presence of a significant market demand for the product just to make up the development costs. How you can spin the dissolution of an unprofitable division as a strategic market win and continued prosperity for that particular segment baffles me.

    There is a need for low-end computers to satisfy the basic computing needs of developing countries, but those computers need to be based off of hardware that has relatively good performance compared to the average PC. Geode is a baseline platform good for set top boxes and kiosks, it fails it as a true PC computing platform.
    • by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @09:50PM (#16818594)
      Geode is a baseline platform good for set top boxes and kiosks, it fails it as a true PC computing platform.

      Hello. I'm writing this from AMD K5 100 MHz. Yes. 100 MHz.

      8MB RAM.

      Do you think it's impossible to use? It's certainly not the machine I use for 3D and Photoshop design, but still I managed to get ermm "informed" by Slashdot, and post a responce.

      How powerful a Geode is? It's certainly better than AMD K5 100 MHz.
      • by SaDan (81097)
        This goes along the same lines, but I've posted to Slashdot before using a Palm Zire 72 linked to the internet via DUN and Bluetooth before. Not exactly a powerhouse, but it gets the job done, and is pretty darn power efficient. Now I have a Treo 700p (same hardware, more RAM) which also does the job nicely.
      • by El Torico (732160) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:54PM (#16819038)
        Luxury. I once posted to slashdot using a 386-based PC I built from parts that were left for trash pickup and an acoustically coupled modem dial up connection.
        • by MustardMan (52102) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @11:35PM (#16819304)
          You had acoustic couplers? We had to print out the info and whistle it into the phone. Kids these days...
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          THAT'S NOTHING, you pansy. In my family, the six of us are locked in the trunk of the '73 Lincoln Continental (on blocks) and our only computer is a TRS-80 that our father beats us over the head with before we are allowed to swim across the alligator pond to use the computer and the 300 baud modem to post our mindless rubbish to Slashdot. We have to power the computer by pedalling a bicycle with a dynamo and if any of us makes a spelling mistake, Dad, a fervent Slashdot Grammar Nazi, beats us all over the h
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Do you think it's impossible to use? It's certainly not the machine I use for 3D and Photoshop design, but still I managed to get ermm "informed" by Slashdot, and post a responce.
        Yes, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to run a spell checker?
      • Pffft that's nothing I once posted on slashdot using a four-function calculator!
      • by AndrewNeo (979708)
        How do you run Firefox on that thing!?
      • A Geode GX is little more than a core clock-speed increased version of the MediaGX/Geode GXm, that was bought from NatSemi, who
        bought it from Cyrix when they sold the other half to VIA. It's a weak chip. it has a FSB of 33 MHz so that
        it could work with PC-66 memory without any L2 cache involvement to raise board or chip pricing. The whole design cripples it
        out of the gate. If it's a GX design, it stinks on ice except for a few usable embedded/kiosk designs and, yes, the thing
        stinks compared to your ma
      • I currently run many machines in the 300-500 MHz range in a manufacturing environment. They typically run 64-128MB of memory. These ARE in the class of the PIC and I can tell you they are quite functional... Now, I wouldn't want to do development work on them on a regular basis. What's finally driving us to replace them are compatibility issues with the server backend.
    • I believe it has been very lucrative for PC-CHIPS.
      And for VIA and its C3 processor.

      That gives about $350 for a full PC after VAT and import fees (expensive import fees here).
      • Except the C3 sucks balls and nobody in their right mind would want one. I'd rather have a Z80 running CP/M then anything you can build out of a VIA C3...

        Actually, I'd love to see a laptop built out of an ARM core. That'd be a hoot.

        What ARM should do is contract out to someone to make a 754-pin or 479-pin compatible ARM9 core ... :-)

        Tom
        • by TAZ6416 (584004)
          Actually, I'd love to see a laptop built out of an ARM core. That'd be a hoot


          Well, you can actually still buy a PC with a ARM processor in it if you like - http://www.castle-technology.co.uk/ [castle-technology.co.uk]

          Jonathan

          http://www.myspace.com/stripeymiata [myspace.com]
          • $2200 CDN for a 600MHz ARM PC?

            Are you fucking mad? Seriously?

            The processor is only worth a couple bucks in volume production. unless these guys sell 3 PCs a year it should be way cheaper. For reference, for just the mobo + northbridge/southbridge + processor I'd expect to pay no more than $300. I can add my own ram/hd/case thank you very much....

            Tom
    • by couchslug (175151)
      When building crippled "appliances" that are not easily hackable, they'd better be based on a viable business model.

      If not, they are another entry in the rolls of the I-Appliance BBS, which dates back to Codeman's I-Opener hack.
      Why fool around with old compu-junk? Same reason Hillary climbed Everest.

      http://www.linux-hacker.net/cgi-bin/UltraBoard/Ult raBoard.pl [linux-hacker.net]
  • Liquidators? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Usquebaugh (230216)
    OK,

    so who is going to be seeling these on eBay? $50 a throw sounds fair?
  • Not Linux friendly (Score:3, Informative)

    by astrojetsonjr (601602) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:00PM (#16818646)
    One of the big problems is that it runs Windows CE, and it's hard to add applications. There is some magic with the BIOS that won't let it boot into anything but a signed version of Windows.

    EBay has them for about $75, maybe there will be a break in getting Linux on it.

  • by Espectr0 (577637)
    They have the geode as the summary says, and the OLPC project seems to be working for them. Why have 2 products that do the same? It only seems obvious that they had to cancel the communicator.
  • There is another AMD machine in the pipeline, however, the successor to the PIC, called the Ultra Value PC. Look for it in January.
  • by ghoul (157158) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:29PM (#16818866)
    Yoohoo We got rid of a loss making project. Next quarters profit sharing is going to be sweet.
  • by the Gray Mouser (1013773) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:35PM (#16818908)
    I would invest in a communications infrastructure to support them. Ground up wireless phone, computer, TV, and anything else that can be broadcast.

    But, before I did that I would build a transportation infrastructure, so there were roads everywhere people wanted to go and goods could be moved from one place to another efficiently.

    I know computers seem high on slashdot readers' priority list, but honestly, America did pretty well without them for a long time. And many 3rd world citizens would love to have the standard of living that Americans enjoyed in the early 20th century.

    I'm not saying computers are bad or not helpful. But the grandiose schemes of bringing them everywhere when so many more basic needs and wants haven't been met seem a bit misplaced.
    • by ghoul (157158) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:42PM (#16818976)
      The American standard of living was a fluke. It was supported by the opening up of vast areas of land and dispossesing the original inhabitants and then pumping and exporting oil like crazy while the real developed world aka Europe was shooting itself in the foot with two world wars. If not for the wars America would stay a middle level power with a mostly farming based economy . So the early 20th century lead is not coming back. America can still stay ahead by shifting the economy over to new generation stuff but if the 3rd world wants to catchup it would be stupid to follow America's route. For one most 3rd world countries dont have a hell lot of cheap land and cheap oil so they actually need to use their brains to get ahead and for brain powered industires PCs are more important than roads. Anyway roads are a very inefficient and wastefull mode of long distance transport. THird world countries would be better off with India's example which has the worlds largest rail network
      • by linguae (763922)

        Anyway roads are a very inefficient and wastefull mode of long distance transport. THird world countries would be better off with India's example which has the worlds largest rail network

        As a road geek, prove this. Now, I know that roads cannot compete with bullet trains when it comes to speed and delivering passengers. (I'd like to see some more bullet train development in this country; California proposal of a train running from San Francisco to Los Angeles via the Highway 99 corridor is a start). H

        • by kestasjk (933987)
          And I thought stamp collectors were weird.
        • I'm sorry, but your comparisons just don't make any sense.

          If you're going to compare riding in an Amtrak train to driving, then you'd better be driving a 1970s Ford Pinto on an unmaintained dirt road. Given the sad state of funding for rail transit at the national level, any comparisons are simply invalid.

          Truck transportation also strikes me as by far the least efficent method you could possibly have for moving goods from one place to another over long distances. You don't need interstates for the "last-m
          • by tilandal (1004811)
            If this were true then there would be far fewer good shipped by truck. Busnesses do not spend money on trucks because they think it is more fun then the railroad.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              If this were true then there would be far fewer good shipped by truck. Busnesses do not spend money on trucks because they think it is more fun then the railroad.

              Roads took over from rail when the government decided to cut back on rail subsidies and put the money into road/highway subsidies, in response to lobbying from big oil. The petroleum industry benefits from roads at every step; when they are made, they are made with petroleum products. When they are driven on, the vehicles are propelled with pet

            • by ghoul (157158)
              When the government builds roads and hands them over for free use nobody complains about it. However if the government were to build railroads and hand them over for free use to rail operating companies there would be murder !
              Railroads are more efficient both for long trips from city to city and for suburban commutes. Cars should be for pleasure travel like going to visit someone in the neighbourhood (walking is even better but then neighbourhoods are not as dense as they used to be) or for taking trips out
        • by Miseph (979059)
          Congratulations, you're an American. It is a well known American literary meme to use the automobile as a symbol for freedom. Culturally, we are fixated on them, and they are so deeply ingrained that to many Americans, the idea of NOT having a car and relying instead on mass transit is actually unnatural.

          In India, trains have a very similar meaning; in England, it is boats.

          Roads and cars are all well and good for short distance travel, but it's pretty much impossible to argue that we haven't overdon
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by linguae (763922)

            Well, I would argue that automobiles are a symbol of freedom. Automobiles allow us to get from door to door, without having to walk for over 5 minutes to a transit stop and without having to transfer buses a few times if you're going longer than a few miles. Automobiles allow us to travel anywhere we choose, instead of wherever the bus or train line goes. With an automobile, getting a load of groceries is easy. Try getting groceries without a car; you wish that you had one by the time you finally carry

            • by bazorg (911295)
              However, we, as Americans, appreciate to mobility and convenience that we get from automobiles, and I do not feel that public transportation is as flexible or as convenient as automobiles are.

              That would hardly be an "american thing" or a measure of convenience that would apply differently elsewhere. trouble is when there is just not enough space for all the cars (parked or in motion) and people still refuse to share public transportation. That way, you pay for the road, maybe for the public transportation

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                trouble is when there is just not enough space for all the cars (parked or in motion) and people still refuse to share public transportation.

                I'm afraid it's an all-or-nothing proposition. It does you no good to have no car in your town where you don't need one, unless you never leave, because the next town over is still car-dependent.

                For those boring-ass people who never leave their city, this is a working solution. Unfortunately that kind of sedentary lifestyle leads to jaded individuals who have no

            • by ghoul (157158)
              Walking 5 minutes to the transit stop is actually a good thing. it would do something about the obesity epidemic. Door to door is not a good thing for your health. As for groceries take a taxi on the way back. Whats the big deal? Do you actually do groceries everyday? And if you do it everyday you probably dont have a lot to carry each time and wont need a taxi (unless you run a restaurant :)).

              I guess the whole purpose of the California decisions is to make driving inconvenient so people switch to public tr
          • Wha..? I live in Scotland, which isn't England, but I think you'd find a lot more car fanatics than boat fanatics in England... rich people do seem to like their boats, maybe for privacy or something, but I'd say cars are still the classical symbol of freedom in the UK as well as America.
        • "It can sometimes be a close to grinding experience, especially when your trains get delayed"

          Because traffic jams are great fun.

          Now try to get that same emotion out of train structures.

          I know someone with ADHD, and someone with a PhD, who both love trains. There are loads of people (who I do consider slightly sad, but slightly cool at the same time, with their miniature train sets ;) ) who get off on trains.

          I like cars too, I love to drive, and I don't like public transportation if I can avoid
        • by ghoul (157158)
          Roads really suck at moving goods efficiently over long distances. The fuel burnt to move a pound of goods is maximum for road transportation. Its lowest for ship and other water based transport (river steamers), next for rail, next for aircraft and the maximum for Road. Yes aircraft engines are actually more efficient than truck engines over long distances. Yes we need Roads for the door to door transport but that does not need Interstates but Long distance roads are a luxury not a necessity. I do agree w
      • The American standard of living was a fluke. It was supported by the opening up of vast areas of land and dispossesing the original inhabitants and then pumping and exporting oil like crazy ... So the early 20th century lead is not coming back.

        Exactly: That's just how it is. Thanks for saying it so accurately and concisely; if I'd made that comment, I'd have been mod'd down into oblivion. :)

        (Of course the same applies pretty much to Australia and Canada, both enjoying resources boomlets.)

      • by westlake (615356)
        If not for the wars America would stay a middle level power with a mostly farming based economy

        The last census in which the U.S. was 50% rural was in 1860. U.S.Steel was capitalized at one billion dollars in 1901. The U.S. had the money and resources in 1905 to undertake projects on the scale of the Panama Canal.

        pumping and exporting oil like crazy while the real developed world aka Europe was shooting itself in the foot

        Industrialization in the U.S. was coal-fired.

        Oil exports were trivial in the years

        • by ghoul (157158)


          The last census in which the U.S. was 50% rural was in 1860. U.S.Steel was capitalized at one billion dollars in 1901. The U.S. had the money and resources in 1905 to undertake projects on the scale of the Panama Canal.

          You dont need a large number of people to be in farming to be a farming based economy. 4% of the US population is in farming now but farming is still a large part of the economy/ The US is one of the largest exporters of food in the world. My point is that without the world wars and the treme
    • Too much corruption, too little infrastructure, too little education.

      I'll happily buy stuff from them though. Maybe once the agricultural subsidies in the EU and US have been dumped that will be worthwhile. Till then they're pretty much fucked.

       
    • what could maybe work is if you had a set of iso containers that would make a Wireless/Satcom station
      ie
      1 Sun BlackBox datacenter
      2 power water box
      3 Satcom/wireless box (internet Hut?)
      heck the waste water may turn out to be more or less potable

      (side note the RS Geodes were best used as paperweights)
    • by evilviper (135110)

      I would invest in a communications infrastructure to support them. Ground up wireless phone, computer, TV, and anything else that can be broadcast.

      OLPC is the communications infrastructure. Each one acts as an alway-on WiFi relay for the next. VoIP, internet radio, IPTV, etc., all can be distributed over the dynamic mesh network.

      You just need to add the server units (part of the OLPC project) at the nearest school, and fill them with content, and/or connected them to the internet.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I would invest in a communications infrastructure to support them. Ground up wireless phone, computer, TV, and anything else that can be broadcast.

      The third world needs one communication medium same as the rest of us; an IPv6 mesh network. Oddly enough, these OLPCs are supposed to do mesh networking. No idea on IPv6... but since they run linux they'll certainly be capable.

      Before there is any point to any of that besides the cellphones, you would need a power infrastructure. Which isn't there. You can

      • Give a man a fish, etc etc. The idea is to provide educational resources so that they can fix their own problems because fixing other people's problems only makes them depdendent. You give people food and they grow less food; then if you are no longer able to provide them with food they die because they've let their food production system to go hell. This is the same situation.

        Computers != education.

        Educators are needed. Too much reliance on computers and you start allowing 1337 speak on exams [slashdot.org]. Again, i

  • Yes it can (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gorimek (61128) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @10:41PM (#16818972) Homepage
    AMD's role in spurring interest in low-cost PCs for developing nations can't be overlooked."

    I'm overlooking it right now, buddy!
    • by ghoul (157158)
      See the thung is in the chip business AMD is the underdog and the underdogs business model needs that they have the sympathy of the market. Bringing computers to the third world does a lot more for AMD than the same amount of pure marketing dollars could ever do . So its a win-win kids in third world countries get cheap PCs, AMD gets goodwill and a big foot in the door in these countries. BTW AMDs internal designation is not third world countries but high growth markets- AMD knows the US and Europe have do
  • I thougt that "third world" was a cold war thing.
  • "Wazzat?" (Score:1, Troll)

    by kabdib (81955)
    "What's that?" I asked the computer store owner. It was a green box in a bin by the door.

    "Dunno. It's yours if you want it."

    It had USB connectors, and video out, and a modem jack. Why not? I took it home. Yup, it's one of these OLPC things.

    WinCE something-or-other, 20G hard disk, nobody seemed to care...
  • PSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ctrl-Z (28806) <.moc.namelocmit. .ta. .mit.> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @11:57PM (#16819436) Homepage Journal
    For those who don't know, OLPC is an abbreviation for One Laptop per Child [wikipedia.org] (and not One Love Peace Concert [wikipedia.org]).

    ... Karma whoring since 1998.
  • Content for the Kids (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ArcticCelt (660351) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:11AM (#16819514)
    I just got an idea. It would be cool if eventually there was a web site with the aim of creating and donating content for those kids. If we knew what kind of pedagogic material they need I am sure that many people would be happy to write eBooks or educational software about mathematics science or any other subject (or even donate material already written ). I prefer to donate time on those projects than money that would probably go directly in the pocket of some rich warlord or dictator.

    Of course, open source and open content already exist but if the aim was to directly help kids in developing countries, the content created would be more suitable for their needs and maybe more people would volunteer.

  • PIE (Score:2, Funny)

    by deadlock911 (629647)
    Maybe if they change the name to Personal Internet Exlorer then more third world countries will invest in them.
    They all want more PIEs
  • but nooooo, they/AMD had some kind of 'deal' with Microsoft and these came with Windows installed and the BIOS would not let you put anything else on there. Why they were over $200 is beyond me since they were a small singleboard computer in a simple clamshell case. Not keyboard, display, or mouse.

    Like I said, they should have been $100 and provide support for USB storage if you wanted to add more software( think flashfs or whatever Knoppix is using for overlaying the root filesystem ).

    Too bad they didn't t

The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on weather forecasters. -- Jean-Paul Kauffmann

Working...