October 22, 2004 12:15 PM PDT

AMD offering blueprint for $185 PC

Advanced Micro Devices plans to unfurl next week a blueprint for building a low-price computer aimed at providing Internet access to people in so-called emerging markets.

Dubbed the Personal Internet Communicator, the machine is geared toward families who make the equivalent of between $1,000 and $6,000 annually. Three companies in India and Latin America will be among the first to market versions of the machine, an AMD representative said.

The Personal Internet Communicator, or PIC as AMD calls it, will cost about $185 without a display. To reach that price, AMD selected several standard PC components, including one of its own Geode x86 processors, 128MB of Samsung RAM and a 10GB Seagate hard drive. The company also specifies a version of Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, fitted with Windows XP-extensions, allowing it to provide consumers with a graphical interface, e-mail, Web browsing, instant messaging and word processing. The PIC machines will also be able to play multimedia files and show PDF and PowerPoint files, AMD said.

"The performance (of a PIC machine) is very robust," said Steve Howard, an AMD spokesman. "It boots in 25 seconds, and, once loaded, the browser performance is very snappy and word processing and spreadsheet is equivalent to what you'd see in a PC today."

AMD will introduce the PIC as part of an effort it calls 50x15, which aims to raise the percentage of the world's population that

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has Net access to 50 by 2015. Right now, only about 10 percent of the global population can access the Net, the company says. Reaching the next large group of computer and Internet users--people in countries such as China, India and Russia--has become a major focus of many of the big names in computer technology. Most of those companies appear to agree that lower-price personal computers will help them sell more products.

Microsoft, for one, is aiming to help create lower-cost PCs by creating less-expensive versions of Windows XP. The company has produced so-called starter editions of XP for several markets.

Intel has also discussed creating low-price processors for emerging markets. Sources say the company has been selling a special low-price processor and motherboard combination as part of a project code-named Shelton.

Although it intends to steward the low-price PIC into the market, AMD isn't getting into the business of manufacturing computers. The company drew up the plans for the PIC, but tapped Solectron to build the first run of the machines. The chipmaker plans to go forward by essentially licensing the PIC design to local companies, including telecommunications or Internet service providers, allowing them to use local contract manufacturers and control distribution, marketing and pricing of their PICs. Thus the companies will sell PICs under their own brand names and be free to subsidize the machines' cost to lower the price consumers pay. AMD is targeting companies in Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Russia, initially.

When it came to choosing the individual parts that make up the PIC, AMD aimed for Windows and Web software compatibility, but also low price. The AMD Geode GX500, an x86 chip that powers the PIC, consumes only 1 watt of power, meaning it can run without a fan, which lowers component costs for the PIC. Aside from 128MB of RAM and a 10GB hard drive, a PIC machine will include a modem and four Universal Serial Bus ports for adding peripherals such as a keyboard.

Still, there have been numerous efforts to deliver low-cost Internet access devices in the past, most of which have failed.

Although the PIC is similar to the Internet appliances that were unsuccessfully marketed as inexpensive Internet access devices, AMD says the PIC costs less and is more useful.

Unlike Internet appliances, which were essentially terminals for Internet access, the PIC be used both online to surf the Web, watch streaming video and read e-mail, and offline for word processing and viewing documents, similar to a traditional PC, Howard said.

AMD will officially announce the PIC and unveil its first three customers on Oct. 28.

16 comments

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Ballmer will be disappointed....
... at the price. Maybe he could donate the OS to help get the
costs down even further.

By the way, where are the owners of this emasculated PC design
going to find any support (that they can afford) ??????
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Money In It...
If there is no money in it, then no support will be available. Most likely a few small shops will support repairs on these devices. The telco providers who re-label and sell them will provide support to keep a customer who is paying for service like dialup Internet access.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Not with any MS/OS only Linux
Only Linux will serve as a stable platform for the machine propose. Twenty-five seconds to boot? No apps?

Give me a freakin' break!
Posted by savvysooner (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bootup is easy.
With Windows CE, half of the OS can be loaded on a ROM and is very fast to get started at boot up. It's about like a laptop with suspend or sleep mode.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Nice AMD PIC photos here
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.amdboard.com/pic.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.amdboard.com/pic.html</a>
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
amd announcement
Great that AMD moved in that direction. Would hope that they and others continue on theis path to seriously lower the effective price of computers for the individual.
Frankly digusted by the price posturing
Posted by wheryman (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
looks like a lunch tupperware, but good anyway !
I really like this PC and low cost-low power geode processor. Think about the energy you may save with it ! Maybe you won't notice a real difference if it's the only PC at home, but in a "cyber cafe" with 20 o 30 PCs, 24 hours on, 7 days a week, the difference in energy may be huge. Specially inSouth America. Price of it is a real important factor in South america. However, we usually see people building cyber cafes with old celeron 400Mhz machines. But I think Geode can outperform those old celerons and even with less power consumption (6 watts guys, it's much lower than anything). Support? Who needs support? warranty, that's all support we got here, and we are used to that little. Then, maybe it should be fine to include a model with a CD drive and floopy drive... external USB CD drives are quite expensive and I think it will be a significative point in decision time (if you're not going to build a cyber café wehre you don't need all PCs with CD or floppy, you can have access to those via network to a PC that has CD and floppy).

Overall, nice move. GO AMD !
Posted by Thefumigator (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Good for countries like Brazil
I think AMD had a great idea. I am from Brazil and we see the demand of cheaper CPUs. But I think this device could have a TV output like the old Amiga´s Commodore (A-1200 for example). Why ? Because in Brazil for example almost 100% of the population have TVs. But still expensive to buy a standard monitor. Mainly nowadays with the CRT being substituted by LCD. Otherwise telephone acess still expensive and rare inside the country. I hope this help AMD to have other vision of South American needs.
Posted by FC1972 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Still more expensive than an X-Box
This isn't very good news. I hope they set it to work as a set-top box with TV RF outputs. It's still not as cheap as the X-Box. Any news on how much the MSN TV 2 will be?
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AMD Personal Internet Communicator Distributor
Hi, anyone knows where and when will I be able
to purchase one of AMD PIC??
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
$249 is overpriced -- full PC's are available for $238!
Once again, the entire concept of the Internet appliance or Internet PC shows its stupidity.

AMD is suggesting these boxes with a target price of $249 with a crippled OS (e.g. Win-CE).

You can got to walmart.com *RIGHT NOW* and pickup a Microtel 1.6Ghz Duron with 128Mb, 40Gb Hard Drive, 52X CD, NIC, Mouse and Keyboard for $238 and load a full OS like Linux on it (free) and you have a full PC *FOR LESS*.

Or, for $298, you can get the same unit with the full version of Windows XP Home Edition and it comes with Open Office preloaded as well.

So would you please tell me exactly WHAT market the $249 PC AMD is proposing is designed to satisfy????
Posted by mdburkey (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AMD's is $185 w/o monitor. $249 w/mon
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.amdboard.com/pic.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.amdboard.com/pic.html</a>
Posted by (61 comments )
Link Flag
That makes a bit more sense.
Looks like Cnet had the price wrong initially -- they had said it was $249 *without* a monitor.

$249 with a monitor is a bit more reasonable.
Posted by mdburkey (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AMD Geode GX500 based PIC
I am from India and I am sure that it will help a few million people additionally every year to get access to Internet. This system will be marginally cheaper than the locally assembled unbranded systems in India. If it comes with some sort of limited warranties (60-90 days)and telephone support for one week to help people in remote areas. Problem may arise from the inadequate communication facilities (dial up phone lines), but that me taken care of by the current booming telecom market. If some International funding is also made available, the growth will be exponential. The benefits of this effort will be definitely numerous not only to countries to India, but to the whole mankind.
G M Asirvatham
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Current INformation on Personal Internet Communicators
The PIC is a great little product. So much so that we have created a web site, <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://PICHackers.com," target="_newWindow">http://PICHackers.com,</a> that discusses what all you can do with a PIC.
Posted by mxgolfcpu (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry broken link, try this
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://PICHackers.com" target="_newWindow">http://PICHackers.com</a>
Posted by mxgolfcpu (2 comments )
Link Flag
 

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