TSMC to supply Transmeta chips

Transmeta expects TSMC, the world's largest contract chip manufacturer, to begin producing some of its chips by the middle of the year, said Transmeta Chief Executive Officer David Ditzel, in a speech at the Banc of America Securities Technology Week conference here.

TSMC produced samples of Transmeta's chips last year, so the development comes as no great surprise. Transmeta designs and markets its processors, but contracts out their manufacture to third parties. Ditzel also confirmed that Microsoft has used Transmeta's 600Mhz TM5600 processor in early versions of its Tablet PC, a Web appliance unveiled by Microsoft at Comdex last November. Some of the prototype Tablet PCs on show at Comdex were rumoured to be sporting Transmeta processors, but neither company would confirm the rumours at the time.

Transmeta unveiled its Crusoe family in January last year. The chips use a combination of software and hardware techniques to keep their power consumption low, which helps to improve battery life in portable computers. The processors are available in a Web appliance developed by Gateway and America Online and in notebook PCs from Sony and others.

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