OLPC hardware: what if there was an SDR modem / chipset?

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton lkcl at lkcl.net
Mon Jan 25 15:58:53 EST 2010

On Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 6:33 PM,  <david at lang.hm> wrote:
>> the key questions to be asking are: in light of the massive volumes
>> involved with OLPC XOs, is SDR worth pursuing, given all the
>> development costs, but given all the benefits especially where SDR can
>> be re-programmed to do "whatever" in bands where licensing and
>> regulatory approval is _not_ required, on a per-country basis?
> probably not, for the same reason that OLPC isn't writing it's own OS
> anymore. it requires extensive expertise and tools that they don't have.
> they funded the developement and deployment of the screen technology, but
> everything else has been assembling off-the-shelf chips and subsystems, and
> with the changeing times, they have less engineering expertise than they
> used to.

 ok - i'm asking the wrong question :)

 let's assume that somewhere in 2010 an SDR modem exists (from
someone, doesn't matter who made it).  let's assume that software is
available (COTS) and is (perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently)
proprietary and turns on the SDR for specific functions.  let's assume
also that the specs on the SDR RF side are completely documented,
publicly available and, importantly, useable by free software (for the
future, for replacing the COTS firmware).  let's assume that the SDR
modem and the COTS firmware which actually turns it into WIMAX, 3G,
GSM, 802.11 etc. is available; let's assume that the SDR modem comes
with instructions "just plug in this 802.11 antenna here; just plug in
this Quad-band Penta-band GSM/3G antenna here; just plug in the GPS
antenna here".

 _if_ all these things were true, _would_ the OLPC hardware design
team select such a COTS modem and its associated firmware
(over-and-above the rather dull Marvell 88688 option being deployed
right now in XO-1)? and if so, who do i need to talk to, to get a
"yes" from?  (and if not, what _would_ it take for an SDR modem to be

 this last is perhaps the key question.  what's it going to take to
get an SDR modem into a future XO?


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