Taiwan rumour mill churns on

Trancemeta, Elegent (sic) and more

Taipei Gather together 800 engineers and you're bound to hear all sorts of rumours and speculation, some of which may be true but what way does anyone have of knowing?

For sure we bumped, yet again, into a Trancemeta senior official in the Hyatt, but no one knew exactly why he was in town. He certainly wasn't there for the Via gig, but in the course of our investigations we unearthed all sorts of messages, so to speak, in the bottle.

AMD's ultralight notebook, on their slides, but with no chip against it, increased to fever pitch speculation that the firm might snap up the smaller fish in the little pond, to help complete its product portfolio. And people were peddling scurrilous rumours that as Transmeta had committed to DDR memory, the boys from Rambus might spoil their little party by slapping some kind of suit on them. As our Mister Crisp doesn't work at Rambus any more, we were unable to go straight to the horse's mouth and extract a denial on this one.

Elegent. Nice name, nice product, shame about the spelling. The 256K browser is flashed into the BIOS and allows the Information PC to be just as bare bones as necessary for the job of filling the gap between a $199 system and a $499 system. When we chatted to some nice chap about the product, we discovered that its offices were just round the corner from Via's HQ in Fremont. Unfortunately, we were misled. In fact, Elegent seems to be in some Via startup corridor in the same building. But Elegent and Via appear to have some 10 design wins already for the Info PC. Things sure do move fast in the industry.

The guy from Qualcomm started his interesting presentation today by saying: "Lots of people have asked us what is the connection between us and Via, and why are we here." He then spent another 30 minutes not talking about the connection, but did say that Via and Qualcomm have one thing in common, and that is TSMC. "Not many people know this," he said, "but Qualcomm is the world's largest fables company and we shipped our 100 millionth chip earlier this year." Ideas for the future include a portable Karaoke phone, one to many interactive chat rooms including live video feeds and videoconferencing on your mobile. Andy Grove was obviously 10 years ahead of his time.

The wooden Aqua Marina unit from FIC was still on show on its booth today but an important piece of marketing collateral was grabbing the punters' attention. You couldn't really make this up, but the piece of good stock paper, which certainly wasn't there yesterday, has a picture of some chick with butterfly wings, stepping into a whirlpool, strangely reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle and his faked fairies at the bottom of the garden, which turned the creator of Sherlock Holmes into a laughing stock at the beginning of this century. Which takes us, neatly enough, back to Trancemeta… ®

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