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Friday, September 30, 2005
AMD Brings Bare-bones PC to Consumers

Radio Shack plans to start selling a low-cost alternative to the personal computer starting Sunday.

The $299 machine, dubbed the Personal Internet Communicator, was designed by AMD to access the Internet and perform basic computing tasks.

AMD originally conceived the device last year for low-income consumers in developing countries as part of an effort it calls ``50x15.'' AMD Chief Executive Hector Ruiz wants more than half of the world's population using computers by 2015.

In contrast to more complex personal computers, the Personal Internet Communicator is a bare-bones machine that is supposed to be simple, reliable and durable, said Bill Edwards, AMD's chief innovation officer.

It uses the stripped-down Windows CE operating system from Microsoft and can be used to read and create word processing, spreadsheet and presentation files as well as access the Internet or send e-mail.

So far, telephone and cable TV companies have begun providing subscribers with the machine in places such as Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean and India. Soon, companies in China, Russia, Turkey and elsewhere will start selling the Personal Internet Communicator.

In many cases, telephone companies lease the machines to consumers along with monthly telephone service. AMD estimates that about 3.8 billion people in the world currently can't afford a standard personal computer.

The Personal Internet Communicator, a sealed box the size of a thick book, uses AMD's 366-megahertz Geode GX microprocessor and a companion chip. AMD bought the Geode family from National Semiconductor, which bought it from Cyrix. Contract manufacturers such as Solectron and FIC are assembling the machines, and monitors are sold separately.

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