Transmeta steps onto the European stage

Transmeta executives, however, had little to add to the company's splashy unveiling of the Crusoe line of chips in the US, mainly taking the time to explain to the UK press contingent how its mobile chips offer increased power and longer battery life by relying on complex software to make the processor work.

"We wanted to go after the market that we thought was completely unserved," Transmeta CEO David Ditzel said about the company's focus on notebook PCs and mobile Internet appliances.

Specifically, the company has two chips, the TM5400, for lightweight notebook computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, and the TM3120, for Internet appliances running Linux OS, officials said.

"Linus Torvalds has actually modified Linux for the Crusoe chips. We've added power management to the mobile Linux management system," Ditzel said. Linux guru Torvalds works for Transmeta.

The software that works with the chips has a special standby, low-power mode that can switch itself on and off even in between strokes on the keyboard. Furthermore, the software "can actually learn about the application program while it's running, so it figures out how to run faster and learn to run with less power", Ditzel said.

Transmeta has also modified Linux to be able to run with no hard disk. Rather, a small flash ROM (read only memory) is used for a compressed memory file system.

"We expect to fully supply Europe over the next two years, with some products available by the second half of the year," Ditzel said.

Transmeta was also aware of and keeping its eye on the "major telecom activity in Europe on the WebPad market", he said. WebPads are tablet-sized wireless devices for accessing the Internet.

In order to take advantage of Europe's rapidly growing wireless market, Ditzel pointed out that the products using the Crusoe chips have ports built in for easy plug-in of a variety of radio cards. Part of Transmeta's reason for being in Europe, and specifically in Hanover, is to let companies who are working on wireless products know that Crusoe has access to the radio infrastructure.

"We are working with a number of wireless companies now. Plus we are trying to understand where the wireless market is going as we build our structure," Ditzel said.

"We are talking to the usual suspects," added James Chapman, the vice president of sales and marketing, without mentioning any companies by name.

Although Transmeta is not currently aiming its products at the mobile phone market, such as WAP (wireless application protocol)-enabled mobile devices, Ditzel said it would be easy to adapt Crusoe products to those markets, especially for the upcoming third-generation (3G) mobile networks.http://www.transmeta.com

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Laura Rohde

PC World

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