AMD targets developing world with low-cost PC

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) next week plans to unveil a sub-US$300 PC for the developing world as the company tries to get a jump on a potentially enormous market.

The Personal Internet Communicator (PIC) is a starter PC for markets where low costs are a requirement. It's designed to provide the most basic computing functions to users who would otherwise have no access to the Internet. The system is expected to cost US$249 with a monitor.

AMD will unveil the PIC next week as part of its "50x15" initiative, in which it hopes to bring Internet connectivity to 50 percent of the world's population by 2015. Only about 10 percent of the world has access to the Internet due to cost constraints or the lack of a proper infrastructure for PC use, according to AMD's presentation materials.

Local service providers will be responsible for the maintenance of the system, AMD said. Those local telecommunication companies or Internet service providers will actually brand, market, sell and support each PIC.

With the PC market maturing in the developed world, PC and chip companies are looking to new sources of growth for their products. The untapped markets in countries such as India, China and Russia represent a huge opportunity for PC companies.

AMD estimates that more than 200 million households around the world with sufficient incomes to support a PC have yet to purchase a system. These potential users might not even realize they can afford a computer until they are presented with a low-cost product like the PIC, the company said.

The PIC is a small form factor desktop designed for simplicity and affordability. A customized version of Microsoft's Windows operating system and basic application software ships with each system. Most of the software settings are locked in before the system ships in the hopes that users won't break any applications, and service calls can be kept to a minimum.

AMD's Geode GX500 embedded processor powers the bare-bones system. It also comes with 128M bytes of DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 10G-byte hard drive, four USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports for the USB keyboard and mouse and a monitor.

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Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
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