Transmeta to hit 1GHz by year-end

Watt a difference a day makes

Taipei Reliable sources close to Transmeta's plans say that the firm is likely to be able to introduce a chip in its Crusoe family running at 1GHz by the end of the year, and consuming only a paltry four to five watts.

That contrasts with a member of Intel's mobile Pentium III family, a 900MHz processor, which will also be available by year-end, but which pushes the power consumption boat up to 22 watts.

The arrival of a 1GHz Transmeta part would significantly alter the balance of power in the lucrative notebook market. There are Transmeta devices now available in WebPads and the like, but their price -- typically around $750 or so -- militates against their widespread acceptance.

One of the jewels in Intel's crown is its mobile processor family, which, unlike its desktop offerings, continue to deliver solid margins to the microprocessor giant. A comparison of prices between Intel's desktop and mobile chips shows that the former has a steep decline curve, while the latter shows a very much more gentle move downwards.

Meanwhile, the same sources suggest that AMD is still having considerable difficulties moving its K7 (Athlon) family into the mobile space, with power consumption the chief difficulty. AMD has made inroads into Intel's share of the retail notebook market, but needs to produce top-end chips running at high speeds and at low power to capture the more profitable corporate business. ®