News > Technology
Sharp chooses Transmeta
May 17, 2001: 11:14 a.m. ET

Notebook computer maker is latest in Japan to use Crusoe processors
By Staff Writer Richard Richtmyer
graphic graphic
NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Sharp Electronics in Japan on Thursday introduced a new notebook computer powered by a Crusoe processor from upstart chipmaker Transmeta.

With the introduction of the new Sharp notebook -- the latest in its Mebius line, which will be powered by a 600 MHz Crusoe processor and available in Japan in late June -- the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker now lists all the leading Japanese notebook computer makers on its roster of customers.

Just last week, Toshiba, the world's largest supplier of notebook computers, said it will begin shipping a Crusoe-based Libretto notebook to Japanese consumers later this month.

NEC, Fujitsu, Sony and Hitachi also currently offer Crusoe-based notebook computers.

Transmeta's Crusoe processors, which first began shipping in September 2000, are designed specifically for portable computers and Internet access devices where low-power is important because it improves battery life.

Using patented "code morphing" technology that uses software to translate the instructions typically handled directly by the transistors on other chips, Crusoe processors can adjust the clock speed at which they operate depending on the specific task, which Transmeta (TMTA: Research, Estimates) says enables them to use less power and run cooler than competing processors.

Intel (INTC: Research, Estimates), the No. 1 processor maker, recently stepped up its efforts in the low-power mobile processor area, using a technology it calls SpeedStep, which enables them to operate at lower speeds when the computer is running on battery power and higher speeds when plugged in.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD: Research, Estimates), which historically has not had a large presence in the notebook computer market, also has sharpened its focus there. AMD on Monday unveiled new mobile versions of its Athlon and Duron processors which use a technology it calls PowerNow! to dynamically change the voltage and the frequency at which they operate based on the computing task at hand.

With the exception of Sony, which has been shipping Crusoe-based PictureBook machines in volume to the United States, sales of notebooks powered by Transmeta's chips have been concentrated for the most part in the Japanese and Asia/Pacific market.

Click here to check on chip stocks

This is in line with the company's stated strategy to establish a foothold there and using it to push into the U.S. and Europe.

"Crusoe-based systems have gained great acceptance and penetration into the Japanese and Asia/Pacific markets in less than a year, and many of these units are also coming to the United States and Europe," said Jim Chapman, Transmeta's executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Transmeta has yet to land a U.S.-based notebook computer maker as a customer, a fact that many analysts and other industry observers have focused on lately.

While executives said they are continuing to court U.S. notebook computer makers, they pointed to recent data from technology research firm Gartner Dataquest which showed that in the fourth quarter last year, 2.19 million units shipped in the Japan and Asia/Pacific region, while U.S. shipments totaled 2.21 million.

They said that kind of market penetration, combined with other design wins in network servers, information appliances, and its association with Microsoft, which is using a Crusoe in the development of a Tablet PC, provides significant proof of the validity of the company's technology.

Shares of Transmeta went public Nov. 6 at $21, rose 84 cents Thursday morning to $13.10. The stock dropped sharply last Monday after the majority of its shares were freed to trade following the IPO, allowing insiders such as venture capitalists and employees who bought shares prior to the offering, to sell them. graphic