OLPC 1.5 to be using VIA C7-M CPU and chipset / VIA reference documentation

To many of you this might not be new. About a week ago, OLPC announced that they have selected a VIA CPU and integrated graphics chipset for their OLPC 1.5 hardware version.

I was expecting this to happen, not because I am working part-time for VIA or because I had any kind of insider information. As usual, I speak for myself and not for VIA. But for anyone who understands the x86 marketplace it would have been pretty clear. AMD's Geode is aged and slow, and there are not really any successors. Intel's product portfolio has recently become great for small mobile devices, but I would imagine the pricing is probably a bit too high for an extremely-low-cost product like the OLPC. Going for an embedded MIPS or ARM processor would rule out running a [un]popular OS from Redmond, and whether we like it or not OLPC is apparently looking at supporting such a OS, too.

Intel would obviously have been the perfect choice from the FOSS point of view, a lot of open documentation as well as GPL licensed and stable drivers in mainline Linux and X.org. VIA is not quite there yet, but I can assure you the changes are still ongoing.

Some people, most prominently John Gilmore have raised concerns about the lack of any public documentation for neither the C7-M nor the VX855 chipset. This is unfortunately still the case. The CPU data sheets should have been public for quite some time but haven't been due to resource constraints. And the VX855 manual is not yet public, as the silicon is still being verified. But as you can see from the publicly available manuals for the VX800/820 as well as the chrome9 2D and 3D graphics reference manuals (all linked from the OLPC wiki page now), the immediate predecessor of the VX855 already has open documentation, and this will not change for the VX855 either.

So rest assured that the documentation for the VIA chips to be used in the OLPC1.5 will be publicly available. I'll also try to get personally involved in the VIA/OLPC discussions and see what I can do to help both on the technical side, as well as helping with the interaction and mutual understanding of both sides.