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Transmeta completes Japanese invasion

The US might be cautious, but Japan welcomes Transmeta with open arms
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Written by Richard Shim, Contributor on

Sharp will introduce a notebook with a Transmeta processor in Japan next month, the companies announced on Thursday.

Sharp's Mebius PC-SX1-H1 notebook, set for release 30 June, will use Transmeta's 600MHz Crusoe processor.

The Sharp announcement rounds out Transmeta's support by major Japanese notebook makers. Transmeta already has deals with NEC, Fujitsu, Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi.

The US launch date of the Sharp notebook was not released. But in the past, the US release of a notebook with a Transmeta processor has followed the Japanese release by a couple of months.

Transmeta is an upstart trying to break into the competitive world of processors by taking on Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. One of Transmeta's selling points is low power consumption that saves battery power.

On Wednesday, Sony announced its second notebook to use the Transmeta processor. The notebook will begin shipping in the United States in June for $2,000 (£1,400).

Although no major US manufacturer has backed Transmeta, so far, the Japanese support leaves the upstart "well positioned" for future notebook growth, worldwide, IDC analyst Alan Promisel said.

"Notebooks using Transmeta's processors are of the thin-and-light variety, which leaves them well positioned in the long term as the market shifts away from the heavier...variety," Promisel said.

Promisel added that he expects a dramatic drop-off in the shipment of heavier notebooks in the next year or two, calling them "dinosaurs, a dying breed."

IBM initially announced support for the Transmeta chip. But last autumn, Big Blue backed off plans to use the chip, citing no real gains in battery performance.

Intel and AMD are also using battery-saving technologies -- Intel's SpeedStep and AMD's PowerNow -- to compete with Transmeta. Intel released a power-saving mobile processor in late February for thin-and-light notebooks.

Sharp's new Mebius weighs 3.2 pounds and will come with 128MB of memory, a 20GB hard drive and a 10.4-inch active-matrix screen. It will also come with three USB ports, a Smart Media slot, a Secure Digital memory card slot, an IEEE 1394 port and a built-in modem.

Ed McKernan, Transmeta's director of marketing, said the June shipping date of Sharp's notebook coincides with one of Japan's heavy selling seasons.

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

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