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IBM ditches Transmeta notebook plans

Nov 01, 2000, 17:10 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jo Ticehurst)

By Jo Ticehurst, VNU Net

IBM has cancelled plans to launch a notebook based on Transmeta's Crusoe chip, dealing a major blow to the semiconductor startup just days before its flotation.

The PC company confirmed today that it would not offer a Thinkpad 240 notebook running the Crusoe chip this year as planned. IBM said it would still consider using Transmeta chips in future products.

In a statement, IBM said: "This particular project with Transmeta - the Thinkpad 240 with a Crusoe chip - has been cancelled. We are always looking for technology that will enhance customers' notebook computing experience to include longer battery life, and will continue to consider Transmeta, along with other suppliers, for future Thinkpad models."

Following demonstrations of prototype notebooks running Crusoe at the PC Expo show in June, IBM said it would be offering Crusoe-based versions of its Thinkpad 240 consumer notebooks in the fourth quarter of this year.

Transmeta, which is expected to float on 6 November, claims that the Crusoe chip consumes around one watt of power when running, compared with an Intel Pentium's 15 to 20 watts. This means it uses significantly less battery power, and enables lightweight notebooks to work for up to eight hours, according to the company. In standby mode, the chip consumes around 20 milliwatts of power.

Earlier this year, however, notebook manufacturer Toshiba poured cold water on Transmeta's claims about the low power consumption and heat generation of the Crusoe chip, despite the fact that it is an investor in the chip maker.

Steve Crawley, Toshiba's UK product manager, told vnunet.com at the time: "[Crusoe] does give a reasonable increase in battery life, but nothing like Transmeta's publicity is claiming. The back light consumes a lot of power - one quarter of the power is used pushing light out. Realistically, in sub-notebooks it gives a 30 to 40 per cent increase in battery life."

He added that Toshiba has no current plans to offer a Crusoe-based device in the near future.

Research company Gartner has warned that Transmeta needs to clinch deals involving the use of its processors in high-end notebooks and internet access devices if it is to remain in business.

Speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, research director Kevin Knox said that Transmeta, which is targeting the ultra-light notebook space, won't survive in such a small segment of the market because of the high costs involved in microprocessor manufacturing.

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