Sony's Transmeta PC: Speeds and feeds

It's evolution, not revolution folks.

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Here's some real red meat for Transmeta watchers to chew over. Sony has released the speeds and feeds for the Crusoe-powered notebook that will ship Stateside later this month. But perhaps a little ominously, the battery life doesn't quite live up to the much touted "all-day on" claims made on behalf of the wonder chip.

So here's what's new. As expected, the first shipping Crusoe notebook will be a Sony Vaio PictureBook, with the Crusoe part being a direct replacement for the Intel mobile processor. It'll feature a 8.9-inch 1024x480 TFT screen, 128Mb of RAM, have one USB, one CardBus and one IEEE-1394 port, and is slated to hit the channel in three weeks on October 25. That much we could have guessed. Sony isn't going for a big bang here, but rather using the part as a drop-in component upgrade to a tried and proven model that's already been on the market for eighteen months.

Sony claims that this gives the PictureBook between 2.5 and 5.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. This is a dramatic improvement over the current model, as owners of this delectable can attest. These particular VAIOs officially - and that's using the typical notebook "think of a number and double it" metric - run for 1.5 hours, although it's normal to get just under an hour's real usage away from a main's charge. So Crusoe appears to have been as good as its word, and doubled battery life.

But that's still some way short of Transmeta's all-day on claims. That's because the CPU power consumption is only a small fraction of the overall drain on power- the LCD screen being the biggest guzzler - so unless LCDs, hard disks and batteries show comparable leaps in performance (or are downgraded accordingly) then the system uptime as a whole won't match the processor improvement. And in truth, there's very little Transmeta or any other chip manufacturer can do about that. That said, Crusoe's advantages will be best showcased in low-spec, solid-state devices: the other wing of Transmeta's strategy.

If you're reading this in the US, or fancy a crack at getting an import copy, the details are here

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