February 04, 2009
The $20 Laptop
India thinks it needs a $20 laptop to educate its population.
India is planning to produce a laptop computer for the knockdown price of about $20, having come up with the Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car at about $2,000.Electronic Design News has some interesting views on the subject:
There were no details available in the story about just how the Indian designers intended to hit that price point. But apparently it's not vaporware. The story claims that a prototype will be available on display at an education conference tomorrow. There appears to be no commercial backer to build the design in quantity yet, however.OK. Where would I start? With the processor. The SeaFORTH chip looks like a good start. About 25 billion operations a second. At 360 milliwatts of power. And that is peak. it goes down to 360 microwatts while the processor is waiting for something to do. And it only uses the power required for what ever process is running. Automatically. What would I do different? Add more RAM to each of the processors (there are 40 of them), go to a 32 bit address bus and a 32 bit data bus (at least for external access), and go to the next size smaller semiconductor lithography process node to shrink it all. Put it in a cheap package - 100 pins would be nice. Maybe 128 if it eliminates other hardware. Four external interfaces. USB, wireless, microphone jack, earphone jack. A keyboard and a touch screen display. FLASH to take the place of a hard drive. Maybe 1 G byte. Maybe 1/4 of that. RAM of about the same size.
In the classroom: Custom designed server with 40 USB connectors. Several 1 T byte hard drives in a RAID configuration. For student use and for local storage of info to reduce Internet bandwidth required to support classes.
The server could be multiprocessor if that was a convenient way of getting it up faster. Ultimately server power must be reduced. If each of 40 laptops consumed 1/2 watt on average it would be nice to have a server that averaged 40 watts or less. All powered by a solar/wind power plant capable of 2,000 watt hours a day. At 6 hours a day charging time a 500 watt array should be able to keep a 100 Amp-hour deep cycle 12 volt battery charged up without any trouble most of the year. That should suffice to keep the server up and to charge the laptops as well. A solar array on the cover of the laptop might be interesting as well. I wonder why no one is doing that? Which kind of reminds me of something I had worked on earlier with somewhat more grandiose ends in mind. The Neighborhood Development Package. Evidently they want to start smaller. Which is probably a very good idea.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon on 02.04.09 at 07:54 PM
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