OLPC may switch to ARM for XO laptop

The One Laptop Per Child organisation says it is "almost committed" to switching to an ARM-based processor for its next-generation XO laptop.

The current XO laptop ships with AMD's ageing Geode chip, which is based on an x86 design. However, OLPC claimed that by switching to an ARM processor it can improve the battery life of its low-cost laptop.

"Our current XO-1 uses an average of five watts of power, and while most people thinkthat's amazingly low, we think it's our biggest problem," Ed McNierney, OLPC's chief technology officer told PC World.

"We're seeing some very impressive system-on-chip designs that provide both fundamentally low-power demands and the kind of fine-grained power management in the XO-1," he added.

McNierney confirmed that OLPC is on track to deliver the next version of the XO - which will feature dual touchscreens - in 18 months.

The obvious problem with this is Windows, which has been developed for an x86 instruction set. OLPC said it would like to offer a dual-boot option featuring a Linux distro and Windows, and has been talking to Microsoft about a version of Windows for ARM.

"Like many, we are urging Microsoft to make Windows, not Windows Mobile, available on the ARM. This is a complex question for them," said Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC's chairman.