NEC, Sony Recall Notebooks with Transmeta Chips

NEC Corp. Wednesday recalled nearly 300 notebooks containing Transmeta Crusoe processors due to a manufacturing glitch in the chips. On Thursday, Sony announced its own recall of 13,000 notebooks with the Crusoe chip as a precautionary move. Sony said there was only a very limited possibility of malfunctions.

Transmeta supported the NEC recall but said the faulty processors — which had the potential to fail if a consumer reinstalled the operating system — were from a limited manufacturing batch. Transmeta said remaining inventory of the chips at NEC and other customers had been returned, and the company is shipping Crusoe microprocessors to its customers to replenish their production lines.

“Transmeta Corp. stands behind Crusoe and will continue to work with its customers to insure Crusoe’s quality and reliability,” the company said Wednesday evening.

The recall affects a batch of about 284 LaVie MX laptops. NEC said it discovered the fault during routine testing just as the laptops had begun to ship in Japan.

Transmeta’s Crusoe processor is designed to consume less power than other chips, making it a boon in laptops because it extends battery-life.

The recall comes at a difficult time for Transmeta, which is beginning to make in-roads in the notebook market against established chip-giant Intel. Intel has yet to produce an ultra-low power notebook chip, and Transmeta has won some deals with computer-makers like NEC, Sony, Fujitsu Ltd., Hitachi Ltd. and Gateway. Still critics, like IBM — which terminated a ThinkPad project with the Crusoe processor — have said the gains in battery-life aren’t substantial enough to cause a wide-scale switch to Transmeta chips.

Transmeta stock, which went public Nov. 7 at $21 a share and shot up to $45.25 in its first day of trading, tumbled 18 percent Wednesday, from $28.87 to $23.81. Shares were going for $22.12 in mid-morning trading Thursday.

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