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Tuesday 8/10/2002Besides keeping Linus Torvalds in gainful employ, what has Transmeta done for us? As far as ZDNet UK can tell, provided a small stream of slow laptops that extend battery life through crashing so often you reach for pencil and paper instead.

Tuesday 8/10/2002
Besides keeping Linus Torvalds in gainful employ, what has Transmeta done for us? As far as ZDNet UK can tell, provided a small stream of slow laptops that extend battery life through crashing so often you reach for pencil and paper instead. I'm sure that's dreadfully unfair, but if there have been many other products in this part of town, we've missed them. The company says that seven out of the ten top notebook manufacturers use the Crusoe chip -- curiously, not here. Undaunted, Transmeta chief executive Matthew Perry is still banging the drum for the idea that a very low power consumption chip emulating the thirstier Pentium has a hot -- sorry, cool -- future. Of Intel's slowly blossoming Banias architecture, designed for exactly the same market, he'll say only that it's a Pentium III enhanced with a flock of PowerPoint slides. I don't know. I've seen those PowerPoint slides, and while it's true that Intel is very good at putting its new products in the best possible light before harsh reality downgrades expectations, some of the ideas in Banias seem very sound. It's also true that Intel is internally structured so that it has its own Transmetas battling away against each other to produce good ideas that win hearts, minds and silicon space; if you're big enough to cope with the inefficiencies that this involves, you end up with good ideas tested before the market gets to them. Regardless, Transmeta has a few months of grace before Banias comes out. What then? It would be an act of the purest fantasy to note that it has no desktop or server processors while AMD has no serious portable offering, and that one company with both technologies would be able to cut the kind of deals that only Intel manages so far.

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