US chip giant Intel pulls out of One Laptop Per Child project

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The Independent Online

Intel and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation have parted ways after a spat about the chip maker's support for a rival children's computing initiative.

Intel said it had resigned from the OLPC board, leaving the charity without the benefit of its deep pockets and expertise less than a year after it signed up to the effort in July 2007. Citing a "philosophical impasse", a spokesman for the company said that it left after being asked to abandon its support for the Classmate PC, a rival effort to design and market inexpensive personal computers for children in the poorest parts of the world.

According to Intel, the OLPC, which was set up in 2005 with the support of Intel's arch rival AMD, media group News Corporation and Google, demanded exclusive support for its XO computer. "This is disappointing," said Intel's Chuck Mulloy. "Our goals are in line with the OLPC's goals but we've always believed that there will be more than one solution to bringing cheap computing to children around the world."

The OLPC was set up by Nicholas Negroponte, former director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and began mass producing the XO in November. But the distinctive green and white laptop, which is powered by chips from AMD, has failed to take off. Mr Negroponte's pitch to the world's governments, to purchase the durable, solar and manual powered machine, has largely fallen on deaf ears and major orders have not materialised.

Mr Negroponte said that while the OLPC had been hoping for a "positive, collaborative relationship" with Intel, "it never materialised". He said: "Intel came in late to the process... But since joining the OLPC board of director in July, Intel has violated its written agreement with OLPC several times... As we said in the past, we view the children as a mission; Intel views them as a market."

He added that Intel "contributed nothing" to the charity's efforts during its tenure on the board, slamming the company's proposed Intel processor-based XO laptop as a step in "exactly the opposite direction of OLPC's vision" owing to its high costs and power consumption.

Mr Mulloy confirmed that the Intel processor-based XO laptop, which his company has developed to the prototype stage, will no longer be available to the OLPC.

EBay, the online auction site, and Nortel, the networking company, are among the OLPC's remaining corporate sponsors.

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