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AMD Logs Off Low-Cost Computers

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has quietly pulled the plug on the low-cost computers it has sold to developing nations for the past couple of years.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., chipmaker said it ceased manufacturing the money-losing Personal Internet Communicator, or PIC, in the third quarter of 2006. News of the PIC's demise was tucked away in the chipmaker's third-quarter financial report filed with the SEC last week.

The PIC is a low-cost, rugged-looking PC designed for people in developing nations like China, India and Brazil that AMD introduced in 2004. The Internet-ready machines feature an AMD Geode processor, a slimmed-down version of Microsoft (MSFT) Windows operating system, a hard drive, keyboard and mouse, but no monitor.

In a departure from AMD's traditional business model of simply selling chips, the company contracted with Solectron (SLR) to have the systems manufactured, and sold the PICs through partnerships with local telephone, cable or internet service providers in different regions.

The PIC is part of AMD's effort to connect 50% of the world's population to the Internet by 2015 -- dubbed 50x15.

Intel (INTC), the world's No.1 chipmaker, is also taking steps to spread its technology into developing nations through its so-called World Ahead program. The company has plans to sell a sub-$400 PC in countries like Mexico and Turkey through partnerships with local service providers.

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