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Transmeta signs stack of notebook suppliers

Big Crusoe design wins reveal Taiwanese connection

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Transmeta CEO Dave Ditzel yesterday told the PC Expo crowd about a heap of design wins for the chip company's x86-emulating, low power consuming Crusoe CPU.

Computer makers who have apparently backed Transmeta include Fujitsu, NEC and Hitachi, and Ditzel also confirmed earlier reports that IBM will be using Crusoe in an upcoming slimline portable. He also said two more companies, who he could not yet name, would be announcing Crusoe-based kit shortly.

None of this should be too surprising, however, given Transmeta's canny courting of Taiwanese manufacturers, which together produce the vast majority of the world's laptop computers, as The Register revealed last year.

For instance, according to CNET, IBM's laptop will be built by Quanta, which will apparently be building AOL's Web pad, developed in conjunction with Gateway, another customer of Quanta laptops. Quanta also makes notebooks for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Apple and a host of less well-known PC vendors.

"IBM is certainly a top-tier player, and that is pretty impressive," Linley Gwennap, head of analysts The Linley Group, told CNET. "Some of the other guys are along the lines of what you would expect for a new player. The fact that four pretty large companies are showing prototypes indicates a lot of momentum."

Ironically, although IBM will use Quanta to build its Crusoe-based machine, the ThinkPad 240, fellow Big Blue band, IBM Microelectronics, fabs the CPUs in the first place.

Meanwhile, Compaq and Gateway have both invested in Transmeta - as has Quanta - which suggests that they too may announce Crusoe-powered notebooks in the near future.

Quanta's fellow manufacturer First International Corp. (FIC) is also a Transmeta investor, and showed off a Crusoe-based machine - the Aque 3200 - at Taiwanese computer show Computex earlier this month. So did Acer, which is using the chip in an upcoming Linux-based Internet Appliance product. Another Taiwanese manufacturer, Compal, is believed to have a Crusoe-equipped prototype in the works, too. ®

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