Intel buries hatchet with OLPC

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Intel buries hatchet with OLPC

Rivals decide to join forces rather than fight over who gets to save the
developing world.

Intel and the One Laptop per Child project have unveiled a partnership that ends the long standing rivalry between the low cost notebook project and the chipmaker.

Intel will join the board for OLPC and, in a rather cryptic description of the new partnership, the two also pledged to "work together to bring the benefits of technology to the developing world through synergy of their respective programs".

Intel's Classmate PC and the OLPC's XO notebooks both target students in developing nations.

The OLPC project, however, relies on AMD processors and runs Linux. Classmate uses silicon from Intel and comes in both Linux and Windows flavours.

A spokesperson for OLPC did not immediately respond to a question from inquiring whether the pair plan to start using Intel chips in the XO.

The two groups have fought bitter wars over what each perceives as the best way to bring technology to students.

Intel chairman Craig Barrett has dismissed OLPC as a " US$100 gadget", in a reference to the device's long term price goal of US$100.

Microsoft too has shown little love for the design, although the company has received testing units and is attempting to make them run Windows.

The attack prompted OLPC chief Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of MIT's Media Lab, to paint Intel's and Microsoft's criticism as the ultimate compliment.

"Then you know you're doing something right," Negroponte quipped at the Red Hat Summit in April 2006.

But the new partnership seems to have melted all the old animosity.

"Joining OLPC is a further example of our commitment to education over the last 20 years and our belief in the role of technology in bringing the opportunities of the 21st century to children around the world," Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said in a press release.

Negroponte argued that the collaboration will increase the reach of technology to children, ultimately making them the winners.

Intel's Classmate PC is essentially a shrunken down, low end notebook computer that sells for about US$300.

The XO is expected to cost up to Us$175 at launch. The OLPC positions it as an education project that will make children more familiar with computers and allow them to self-educate without having to rely on teachers.

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