AMD has stopped its work on the Personal Internet Communicator project after nearly two years of planning and development. The PIC was announced in late 2004 as a $250 headless computer, sporting a Geode x86 processor, 128MB of RAM and a 10GB hard drive. PIC was designed for "emerging markets" where the cost of computer hardware is seen as prohibitively high.
In its third quarter filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AMD reported that "revenue from sales of PIC products has not been material and in the third quarter of 2006, we decided to stop manufacturing PIC products." AMD’s filing indicates that the company took a loss on unsold PIC inventory.
The death of PIC can almost certainly be attributed to the momentum of the much-hyped One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, which has announced that its first product will cost only $140 per unit. Executives at AMD aren’t shaking their fists at the OLPC, however. The Linux-based laptop is a remarkable achievement in low-cost design, and it just so happens to incorporate AMD technology. Manufactured by Chinese hardware company Quanta, the portable computer features a 400mhz AMD Geode processor, as well as 128MB of DRAM, built-in wireless support, and 512MB of flash memory for internal storage. More details of the project’s first laptop were covered by Ryan back in August.
Not everyone loves OLPC, however. OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt had harsh words for the program, accusing the OLPC project of "work[ing] against the open source community" and engaging in "commercially expedient" activity that is "hurtful" to the open source community. Raadt’s objections stem primarily from OLPC’s willingness to enter into Non Disclosure Agreements.
AMD’s PIC now passes into the world of shadows, as have many "cheap PC" projects before it. It did enjoy brief success in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and China, where telecommunications companies sometimes leased the devices to subscribers. Attempts to market the device as a cheap Internet access solution ultimately failed to gain traction in the US and elsewhere, however.