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Intel launches new Crusoe-killers

New 'ultra low voltage' chips, claiming low-power crown from rival startup Transmeta

Intel is today taking its latest potshot at chip startup Transmeta with the release of several new low-power processors for sub-notebooks. Transmeta, with its Crusoe processor, has aggressively targeted the ultra-light niche.

The new chips from Intel fall into the company's Ultra Low Voltage category, aimed specifically at the market pioneered by Transmeta -- small PC "sub-notebooks" with extended battery life. In this category, Intel released a Pentium III running at 600MHz and a Celeron running at 600MHz. The Pentium III powers down to 300MHz in battery-optimised mode and drops power consumption to 0.5 watts, 0.975 volts. The Celeron reduces power consumption to 1 watt, 1.1 volts in battery-optimised mode.

The chips cost $209 (about £140) and $144, respectively, in quantities of 1,000. Celeron is Intel's low-cost range.

Intel also released two new mobile chips for "mini-notebooks", its Low Voltage range. The Low Voltage Pentium III runs at 750MHz reducing to 500MHz, powers down to as little as 1 watt, 1.10 volts, and costs $316 in OEM quantities. The Low Voltage Celeron runs at 600MHz, reduces its power to as little as 2 watts, 1.35 volts in battery optimised mode, and costs $134 in OEM quantities.

A standard 800MHz mobile Celeron also made its debut, consuming 3 watts, 1.6 volts, and priced at $170 in quantities of 1,000.

The new chips will appear in systems from most major laptop manufacturers, including Toshiba, Compaq Computer and Dell. Transmeta has seen most of its success so far in Japan, where the company last week unveiled a deal with Sharp. Transmeta already has agreements with NEC, Fujitsu, Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi.

"Every leading PC maker who designs ultra-portable notebooks has embraced Intel low-power processors and is introducing a variety of exciting new systems based on Intel products." said Don MacDonald, marketing director, Intel Mobile Platforms Group, in a statement.

Transmeta sent shockwaves through the notebook market last year with the announcement of its Crusoe chip, which consumed far less power than similar processors from AMD or Intel. But the dominant companies have reacted quickly, closing the gap, and Intel now claims its chips deliver "the industry's lowest power consumption".

See ZDNet UK's Chips News Section for the latest on PC processors.

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