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Sony signs Transmeta

Crusoe to power upcoming Vaio, thanks to outsourced production deal

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Updated Sony could be Transmeta's next high-profile customer, if a company source is to be believed.

According to said deep throat, Sony is lining up Transmeta's notebook-oriented Crusoe CPU for a new Viao C1 sub-notebook aimed initially at the Japanese market - it'll ship this autumn, apparently - but possibly making it to the US and Europe later on.

We're not remotely surprised. Sony, which has produced its own hardware up 'til now, recently signed an outsourcing deal with Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta, which is - guess what - an investor in Transmeta (see Sony to outsource notebooks to Taiwan). So is Sony.

Taiwan has become the world's main centre of notebook production, with almost all portable PCs, both major brand and minor, coming from the island. Transmeta was long courted Taiwanese manufacturers, precisely to help it get its chips into well-known PC vendors' notebooks.

The Taiwan connection has allowed Transmeta to get Crusoe into upcoming notebooks from NEC, Fujitsu, Hitachi and IBM. Or, rather, all of them have at least demo'd systems using existing or upcoming Crusoes - IBM showed a prototype Crusoe-based ThinkPad at PC Expo in June, but later said that it was simply a proof-of-concept model and was not a commitment to Transmeta's chip (see Major vendors cagey on Transmeta support).

Still, Taiwan's notebook manufacturers are interested in using Crusoe and, for that matter, AMD's mobile CPUs, as much to break their reliance on Intel as for any technological reasons.

Indeed, according to the source, Sony will also release a Vaio - the 'Note F' - based on mobile-oriented AMD CPUs. Again, that's primarily because the machines will be outsourced to Quanta.

The source said Sony had chosen to use the Transmeta chip in the sub-notebook because of its very low power consumption. The use of the AMD, on the other hand, is more about getting the price down. ®

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