NEC sets sail with Transmeta's Crusoe

The computer maker introduces its second Crusoe-based mini-notebook in Japan
Written by John G.Spooner, Contributor

NEC may be one of the next PC makers to offer Transmeta's new Crusoe chip to North American consumers.

At PC Expo Japan on Tuesday, Tokyo-based NEC introduced a new three-pound mini-notebook, the LaVie MX, which uses 600MHz Crusoe TM5600 chips. NEC is already taking orders in Japan for the new notebook, according to Transmeta.

The LaVie MX is NEC's second Transmeta-based offering for the Japanese market. But sources say the company's NEC Computers, which already markets PCs and notebooks in North America, is considering adding the new notebook to its lines.

NEC's new notebook features a host of new technology, aside from the Crusoe chip. It is fitted with a 10.4-inch reflective thin-film transistor (TFT) display and a lithium-ion polymer battery of NEC's own design.

A reflective TFT screen uses no back light, so it is thinner, uses less power, and is more visible outdoors. Li-ion polymer batteries are thin and flat, which make them much sought after, but they have been a long time coming to market because of design and manufacturing complications.

The LaVie MX comes equipped with 128MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive, and Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system.

The NEC announcement, which bolsters Transmeta's stable of design wins, occurred the same week that Sony and Hitachi began shipping Transmeta-based notebooks in Japan. The two companies are expected to export their notebooks to North America, and Fujitsu has also demonstrated a notebook using the Transmeta chip.

Meanwhile, Intel has responded to Transmeta's low-power offerings, announcing plans for lower-power Pentium III chips, due out in 2001.

After viewing the Intel disclosure, made at the Microprocessor Forum last week, Transmeta chief executive David Ditzel quipped that his company could take responsibility for increasing Intel's mobile research and development budget.

See Chips Central for daily hardware news, including interactive roadmaps for AMD, Intel and Transmeta.

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