AOL, Compaq, Gateway, Sony invest in Transmeta

Formerly something of a secretive operation, Transmeta took the wraps of its Crusoe mobile processor in January. The chip is designed to power both laptop computers as well as smaller web access devices, particularly those using wireless technologies. One of the company's main evangelists is Linus Torvalds, the developer of the Linux open-source operating system. Torvalds is a software engineer at Transmeta.

Transmeta still expects Crusoe-based systems to start appearing in the market by the middle of this year, according to the company.

The other new investors in Transmeta announced this week include a trio of Taiwanese companies: monitor specialist Compal Electronics, motherboard manufacturer First International Computer and notebook maker Quanta Computer. Other Transmeta investors are US BIOS (basic input/output system) software company Phoenix Technologies and South Korea's Samsung Electronics, Transmeta said in a statement. Phoenix announced its BIOS was being used to build reference designs for Crusoe-based mobile computers in late January.

Existing investors in Transmeta, such as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures and Deutsche Bank, contributed approximately $16 million of the $88 million financing round, Transmeta said.

Sony's interest in Transmeta is interesting given the Japanese company's recent investment in US wireless broadband company ArrayComm. Sony hopes ArrayComm's i-Burst technology will help to bring about high-speed net access to a wide range of portable net access devices.

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