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Six months ago, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, AMD lauched a campaign called 50×15, with a goal to have 50% of the world population connected to the Internet by the year 2015. Today experts estimate that only 12% of the world population is connected to the net. In order to acomplish this goal, AMD is leading the computer industry on the release of a popular computer called PIC (Personal Internet Communicator), which should cost around USD 185 without taxes and the video monitor.

Recently we had the chance to see one of these computers running and talk with AMD’s CEO Hector Ruiz about this effort. PIC is already being sold in India and some Caribbean countries, like Jamaica. They are planning to lauch it in Mexico, Brazil and other developing countries. The model we’ve seen was manufactured in Mexico by Solectron.

AMD PICFigure 1: PIC demo.

The way the PIC computer will be sold depends on the country. On some countries it may be sold in retail stores, in other countries it may be sold by local ISP’s together with an Internet connection plan.

AMD PICFigure 2: Front side of the prototype, two USB ports and on-board audio connectors. Notice that this prototype didn’t have any Ethernet (network) port, requiring an add-on USB network adapter (blue part).

AMD PICFigure 3: Back side of the prototype, two USB ports, VGA output, analog modem and power supply input.

AMD PICFigure 4: Bottom of the prototype, manufactured by Solectron in Mexico.

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Regarding the PIC itself, it uses a Geode GX series CPU, from AMD, which doesn’t have a good performance, but has a very low power consumption. The GX 500 model used on the prototype we’ve seen consumes only 1 watt (high-end CPU’s consume at least 80 times more) and runs only at 366 MHz. Don’t expect doing a lot of things with this computer besides writting texts, surfing the web and reading e-mails. Don’t even think about gaming!

AMD PICFigure 5: CPU used in the prototype, a 366 MHz Geode GX 500.

It has everything you’ll need “on-board”, like USB ports, audio, video and modem, but curiously the prototype we’ve seen didn’t have a network port, preventing the computer to be directly plugged to broadband Internet connections, requiring an add-on USB network adapter. Acordingly to AMD, the model we’ve seen was only a prototype and this should change on the final product. Let’s wait and see