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Transmeta signs IPO organisers

Public offering won't happen before October, though

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Transmeta is pretty much on course for a late 2000 IPO, having chosen Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Deutsche Banc Alex Brown to set it all up, according to a source "familiar with the matter", cited by Bloomberg.

By the end of the year, Transmeta should have a series of big-name notebook PC producing customers to shout about, and hopefully a heap of lesser known companies buying its appliance-oriented chips.

At last month's PC Expo show, Transmeta demonstrated notebooks from Hitachi, Fujitsu and NEC, even as IBM was showing off a prototype ThinkPad 240 based on the chip developer's upcoming Crusoe 5600 CPU. Other name vendors will announce Crusoe-based kit soon, Transmeta CEO Dave Ditzel told the PC Expo crowd.

That said, his enthusiasm may be misplaced. IBM later said the 240 on show at PC Expo was merely a prototype designed to test Ditzel's chip, and that it had made no commitment yet to the CPU.

"Our engineering team will be validating that we can bring to market this type of machine," said IBM program director Leo Suarez at the time. "We are talking to customers to gauge their interest and, based on a successful engineering design and positive feedback, we will be willing and ready to introduce a Transmeta mini-notebook in the fall."

IBM - and others' - reticence depends on what alternative power conservation and heat minimisation technology Intel, Transmeta's main rival, can come up with in the meantime. Certainly, Chipzilla is working hard on its SpeedStep technology, and Chimpzilla - aka AMD - has a similar system of its own.

Of course, Transmeta's 5x00 family is really the company's headline brand, designed to win big-name notebook customers but - given Intel's position in the same market - not necessarily to bring home the bacon. That's the job of the 3x00 family, which offers lower power consumption but lesser clock speeds, and is aimed at more lucrative embedded applications.

The ever-so-secretive Transmeta has yet to reveal how much business it's doing with the 3x00 series - or the 5x00 family, for that matter. The point is, however, that it forms the real financial basis for Transmeta's IPO, which, because of the need to make a series of Securities and Exchange Commission filings first, won't take place before October, Bloomberg reckons. ®

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