Transmeta Grabs a Foothold in Chinese Tablet PCs

Semiconductor maker Transmeta Wednesday said it has inked a deal that will put its chips in new low-cost Tablet PCs.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm said its 800 MHz Crusoe TM5800 processor has been incorporated in the TDV Vison V800XPT Tablet PC, the first Tablet PC priced under $1,000.

In general, Tablet PCs are Windows or Linux-based computers with touch screens and features that work like laptop PCs or PDAs. Users can also input and manipulate data using a stylus. The devices have primarily been marketed to the enterprise, but so far have been a niche item with a price point that hovers around $2,000.

A subsidiary of the world’s largest sports shoe manufacturer Pou Chen Group, TDV Vison said its 2.6 lbs V800XPT is an 8.4-inch LCD PC and notebook combined in one device. The unit includes a USB keyboard module, an optional external USB optical drive, a 30GB hard drive and 128MB of DDR RAM memory that is upgradeable to 512MB.

It features a built-in 640 x 480 digital camera, a built-in 4-in-1 card reader and a built-in LAN/modem. The V800XPT also has an SVGA TFT LCD display with a digital pen for input of data and runs the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system. It contains a VGA port, 56K fax modem, an 10/100 LAN connection, two ports for USB 2.0 and audio connections for earphones and microphones.

The Tablet is expected to debut in September in North America, Europe and China for $900.

In addition to TDV Vision, Transmeta also is gaining a foothold in China with deals to supply China’s second largest notebook maker, Tsinghua Unisplendour Group’ “Lilly” notebook with Crusoe chips.

The company’s marquee chip-to-Tablet relationship remains its supply deal with Hewlett-Packard for Compaq Evo Tablet PCs.

Transmeta is also developing its next-generation processor — TM8000 or “Astro” — for use in a gamut of devices ranging from ultra-light notebooks to high-density blade servers.

The deal with Pou Chen may pay off in other ways. In addition to shoes, the company owns a variety of technology companies and has invested over $1 billion developing a high-tech industrial zone, complete with a residential/commercial complex and hotel center, on 3,100 acres in the Jiangsu Province in China.

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