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The LiteComputer may even have dual-cores

2006 is definitely the year of small computers. The OLPC XO, Intel's Classmate PC, and recently the Mobilis by Encore Software, are all trying to take a chunk out of the entry-level education market. But just when three players were making things interesting, a fourth has now joined the fray. Called the LiteComputer, the new entry is poised to be released by mid-2007 and is being developed by a company called Lite Appliances.

According to Lite Appliances, the LiteComputer will be based on non-standard hardware, protecting it from viruses and other forms of malicious intent. This means no AMD or Intel processors here, only proprietary stuff. The main processor that powers the LiteComputer will be an Analog Devices' Blackfin processor. Interestingly, Analog Devices also has a dual-core version of the Blackfin, but at the time of this report, it's uncertain which version the LiteComputer will be using.

Based in Atlanta, Lite Appliances is confident that its small computer will succeed. The company said that one of its main advantages is that all software was developed in house and no expensive applications are used. The LiteComputer will also be compatible with other free office productivity software too. Google's Docs and Spreadsheets will be supported as well as other free productivity software.

Lite Appliances said that its computer will cost roughly $100 to build. However, an LCD screen is not included. If customers want an LCD screen, it would add roughly $100 to the total price. Lite Appliances said a clam-shell version of its unit is on the way for next year. Apparently, the upstart company already has a lineup of 200 customers waiting. The LiteComputer will be shown at the upcoming CES show.

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RE: sure
By PrinceGaz on 12/23/2006 9:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
I'm assuming the processor they are using is not x86 compatible, therefore rendering all viruses and other low-level attacks against PCs ineffective. That also means it cannot run any normal PC software and will therefore need specially compiled versions of everything that is installed.

Specially compiled software isn't a major problem; it's par for the course in open-source world where you are free to create your own executable with the compiler of your choice. Presumably the distributors of this OLPC version would have come to some arrangements with all the necessary software authors.

Using a processor with a non-standard instruction-set will do a good job of protecting it from malware initially, but if they sell enough of them and they are connected to the internet, virus writers will target them and they would probably be especially vulnerable as little protection would exist for them. They could be more of a threat than the average Windows PC.

RE: sure
By psychobriggsy on 12/26/2006 12:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
You're right there, the Blackfin processor architecture is not standard at all, although interesting. It's in the ARM area of the marketplace however, and I don't know why this company didn't use an ARM based product instead of a 16/32-bit non-standard architecture. It has some nice features though, like the 16-bit MACs and 8-bit video ALUs built into the standard core, and these help it a lot in certain workloads.

Better to use a standard architecture and a decent OS that can block or avoid security issues than a non-standard architecture and hope that your custom software isn't easy to break.

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