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Transmeta touts Media Center PC design

Courts CE vendors with 'fanless' reference platform

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CES 2005 Transmeta today took a leaf out of rival x86-compatible CPU maker VIA's book and launched a fanless reference design to help it pitch its processors at home entertainment systems companies.

Dubbed the 'Digital Entertainment Center' (DEC) the new system is based on Transmeta's Efficeon chip, which the company claims provides the horsepower needed by Media Center PCs without the need for the pricey and noisy cooling systems CPUs from a certain (very much bigger) chip company require.

Transmeta hopes the DEC design - perhaps initial systems will be given PDP model numbers, ahem - will appeal to CE vendors who want to jump on the Windows Media Center bandwagon, but want to be able to offer a slimline and quiet system to match end-users' other living room electronics systems.

And since the DEC does play toward Media Center, it's no wonder that the initiative won Microsoft's plaudits today. Other winners include graphics chip maker ATI and chipset developer ULi (formerly ALi), whose respective products - the Radeon 9550 and the M1563, respectively - will find their way into Transmeta's DEC reference design in due course.

When, precisely? Transmeta couldn't said, but it will offer the DEC reference design sometime during the current quarter - probably when the second-generation 90nm Efficeon begins to ship in volume, also scheduled to take place within the Q1 2005 timeframe. The design will "provide partners with full schematics, layout, bill of materials, drivers and a design guide", the chip maker said.

The move marks Transmeta's latest attempt to find a role for its processors. Having failed to dent Intel's share of the notebook and high-density server markets, Transmeta, like VIA before it with the C3 CPUs and Eden platform, is looking to the CE world as a possible home for its cool-running chips.

Transmeta also announced today an Efficeon processor evaluation rig, pitched as much at companies who might be interested in licensing Transmeta's technologies, like its LongRun 2 power-preservation system, as incorporating its processors into their own products.

The announcement follows yesterday's revelation that Transmeta is considering getting out of the chip development business altogether to focus on licensing technologies and processor designs.

Again, the Evaluation Platform and Reference Design Kit will ship sometime in the current quarter. ®

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