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open datasheets

From:  John Watlington <>
To:  John Gilmore <>
Subject:  open datasheets
Date:  Sat, 17 Sep 2011 22:33:04 -0400
Message-ID:  <>
Cc:  Devel List <>, Martin Langhoff <>, OLPC Tech Team <>
Archive-link:  Article

On Sep 17, 2011, at 2:37 PM, John Gilmore wrote:

> The Via chip spec for XO-1.5 is still not available, despite OLPC's
> suggestion that they wouldn't ship a processor without an open manual.
> I haven't looked at the ARM chip in the XO-1.75. Is the spec even
> available?

John touches upon a sore subject around OLPC here.   On both 1.5
and 1.75, OLPC obtained assurances from the companies that the
data sheets for the processor/companion chips/SoC would be
publicly availably by the time the laptop reached production.

In both cases, the companies lied to get the designs
started and have no intention of ever releasing critical
documentation outside of an NDA.

As a company with extremely limited means, what is OLPC to do ?
We can't afford to scrap the multiple million dollars invested in
hardware development by the time this becomes evident ---
I wish I could afford to send such a message.

It is easy to argue that OLPC should obtain these assurances in a written
contract up front, but such a demand would almost certainly just shut
OLPCF down or limit us to using chips at the end of their production
cycle.   Given that the memory interface technology on integrated
chipsets is changing on a two/three year cycle, we can't reach lowest
cost with the older chipsets.

Discussion ?  Advice ?

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open datasheets

Posted Nov 30, 2011 7:22 UTC (Wed) by laf0rge (subscriber, #6469) [Link]

The VIA VX855 (used in OLPC 1.5) chipset programming manual is available since October 2011 from

(You can also go to and click on 'OS independent' and 'VX855').

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