Negroponte turns up the heat on Intel

Intel has denied claims made by One Laptop per Child that it broke a "non-disparagement" agreement and hit back at suggestions that it did not even contribute "a single line of code" to the project.

Intel has denied claims made by One Laptop per Child that it broke a "non-disparagement" agreement and hit back at suggestions that it did not even contribute "a single line of code" to the project.

On Monday One Laptop per Child (OLPC) founder Nicholas Negroponte claimed that one of the reasons for tensions resulting in Intel leaving the OLPC board was that the chip giant had "disparaged" OLPC XO laptops to partners and potential buyers. Negroponte claimed Intel had attempted to discredit XO laptops, despite having signed a non-disparagement agreement.

"Since joining the OLPC board of directors in July, Intel has violated its written agreement with OLPC several times," claimed Negroponte in a statement. "Intel continued to disparage the XO laptop in developing nations that had already decided to partner with OLPC (Uruguay and Peru), with countries that were in the midst of choosing a laptop solution (Brazil and Nigeria), and even small and remote places where Intel has no real interest (Mongolia)."

Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy on Monday denied the claims. "Intel signed a non-disparagement agreement, but we did not break any agreement with OLPC," he told ZDNet Australia sister site ZDNet.co.uk.

Intel and OLPC had experienced "some tension" in Nigeria, Mulloy said, but declined to get into specifics.

As well as claiming breaches of the non-disparagement agreement, on Monday Negroponte claimed Intel had made no contribution to OLPC, either in terms of hardware or software.

"Intel was unable to work co-operatively with OLPC on software development," said Negroponte. "Instead, over the entire six months it was a member of the board, Intel contributed nothing to OLPC. Intel never contributed in any way to our engineering efforts and failed to provide even a single line of code to the XO software — even though Intel marketed its products as being able to run the XO software. The best Intel could offer in regards to an "Intel inside" XO laptop was one that would be more expensive and consume more power — exactly the opposite direction of OLPC's vision."

Intel responded by arguing that it had in fact devoted resources to developing hardware and software in a short space of time, and had negotiated contracts.

"We made substantial progress in the areas of firmware and hardware," said Mulloy. "We have a prototype XO based on Intel architecture that we were prepared to show at CES. We had hundreds of hours of development work on a rapid schedule. We had significant contracts that we won't be following through now."

OLPC aims to provide educational laptops to developing countries in the form of the XO, and runs using an AMD chipset. The XO is in direct competition with Intel's Classmate PC, also aimed at developing countries.

Intel joined the OLPC board six months ago, but left on Friday. Mulloy told ZDNet.co.uk that the two organisations had reached a "philosophical impasse" as Negroponte had asked the chip giant "to end support for non-OLPC platforms, including the Classmate".

"After a number of months of discussions it ended up that we couldn't accommodate their request," said Mulloy.