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VNU Net: Sony selects Transmeta chips for Vaio

Aug 15, 2000, 14:03 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jo Ticehurst)

By Jo Ticehurst, VNU Net

US chip startup Transmeta has received a major boost from PC maker Sony, which announced that it would launch a notebook computer using the company's low-power chips later this year.

Sony said it will use Transmeta's Crusoe chips in its Vaio C1 series, which is an 'ultra-portable' device with a built-in digital camera. The company used Intel's Celeron 366Mhz processors in previous versions of its C1 range.

The announcement follows confirmation earlier this month from IBM that it will be launching a Crusoe-based version of its I-Series of consumer notebooks in the fourth quarter of this year.

Following its demonstration of prototype notebooks running Crusoe at the PC Expo show in June, IBM had cast doubt on its commitment to the chip and said it was still evaluating customer demand, but later confirmed its commitment to launching a product based on the processors.

Both products are described as ultra-portable, and the companies said Crusoe's lower power consumption and reduced heat generation are beneficial in these types of device.

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

Analysts said the announcement is good news for Transmeta, which needs backing from some of the big names in the mini-notebook market, such as Sony, Toshiba and Sharp, to ensure its success.

Andy Brown, a senior analyst at researcher IDC, said: "This is a massive boost for Transmeta - getting industry backing from these guys who are producing solid ultra-portable machines and have a reputation in this market. It remains to be seen whether other companies such as Toshiba get on board, too."

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