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Long-Awaited Transmeta Mobile Processor Unveiled

After working under a shroud of secrecy for more than four years, chip-maker Transmeta yesterday unveiled the Crusoe processor that it hopes will revolutionize the mobile processor market with its low power consumption, radical new architecture and use of the new Mobile Linux operating system.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company introduced two processor families, the TM5400 and the TM3120. The former is targeted at the ultra-light notebook market. With clock speeds in the 500Mhz to 700Mhz range and Transmeta’s LongRun power management system, the processors are expected to allow a mobile computer to run all day under normal operating conditions or play an entire three hour DVD movie on one battery charge. The processors work with the Windows operating system. The 500Mhz version will cost $119 and the 700Mhz $329 and will ship by mid-year.

The TM3120 line consists of a 333Mhz and a 400Mhz processor. These are intended for use in Web pads and mobile clients and use the new Mobile Linux OS, created for Transmeta by Linus Torvalds, creator of the original Linux OS. The processors will be used in products costing between $500 and $1,000. These chips are now shipping with prices of $64 for the 333Mhz model and $89 for the 400Mhz version.

Transmeta’s chip architecture breaks from tradition by using software to handle many of the functions traditionally handled by the processor itself. The company reported that this keeps power consumer down with little loss of performance.

Intel’s announcement earlier this week of its new Mobile Pentium III processors with the SpeedStep energy saving system may have been a preventative maneuver against the news from Transmeta.