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Transmeta Aims to Speed Wireless Connectivity

After much anticipation and speculation by industry insiders, start-up Transmeta Inc. Wednesday unveiled its processor product line, designed specifically to speed up the online functions of Internet appliances.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Transmeta Chief Executive Officer Dave Ditzel debuted two chips in the Crusoe family of software-based processors with speeds of up to 700 megahertz.

The TM3120 is a 400 MHz chip designed for handheld devices and other low-power appliances running Linux. For Windows-based laptop computers, Ditzel debuted the PM5400, which runs between 500 and 700 MHz. Both chips require only one watt of power, which means they can run longer than current chips on battery power. IBM will manufacture the chips.

"If it has a battery and a Web browser, it's going to be built with Crusoe," Ditzel predicted during the conference. ". . .Our goal is to fundamentally change the role of business in computers," Ditzel said.

Ditzel explained the Crusoe suite is designed exclusively for mobile Internet devices, unlike most current chips, which are suited for desktops and servers, then squeezed into wireless appliances. The software-based chips allow the hardware to run at optimum levels because most functions are taken care of by the software component.

The TM3120 is available now, and retails for between $65-$89. The PM5400 is scheduled for release within the next six months, with a price tag of $119-$329.

The company is going after a growing market by aiming at wireless devices. Its closest competitor, Intel Corp. (INTC), makes mobile Celeron chips that run at top speeds of 400 MHz, though they require more battery power to run.

The company has been shrouded in secrecy since its inception in 1995, and even its Web site sheds no information. Also of interest, Linux creator Linus Torvolds is on staff at the company, who created a Mobile Linux platform for the processors.



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