Transmeta may power second HP tablet PC

Transmeta is to continue its relationship with Hewlett-Packard and its innovative portable computers, but it is unlikely to involve the Astro chip, according to an industry report

Hewlett-Packard is planning to continue using Transmeta's Crusoe processors for a new tablet PC, to be launched at the end of this quarter, according to a report.

A HP marketing executive told Taiwan industry journal DigiTimes that HP would continue to cooperate with Transmeta for its second tablet PC, although which processor might be used was not specified. Transmeta is planning a major new processor, code-named Astro, but this will not ship until the third quarter of this year.

Transmeta has struggled to make headway in the portable computer industry since the launch of its first chips. Its unusual "code-morphing" technology, designed to allow the chips to deliver high performance while allowing exceptionally long battery life, initially attracted attention, but failed to make the company a mainstream success.

HP's choice of the Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 1GHz processor for the Compaq Tablet PC TC1000 was a major win for the chipmaker, which is still looking for its big break in the key US market. Sales of portables running Microsoft's Tablet PC software have started strong out of the gate in Europe, according to market researcher Context.

Despite only a partial quarter of sales, Microsoft tablet PCs accounted for 1 percent of European portable sales during the fourth quarter. Microsoft launched its Windows XP Tablet PC Edition on 7 November, with Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu-Siemens, Toshiba among the manufacturers selling portables using the software.

An HP spokeswoman said that no decisions have yet been made about the hardware platform for new tablet PCs, although the company is planning to add to the range. She said that HP would probably not announce new tablet PCs until the second half of the year.

CNET's Joe Wilcox contributed to this story.

See Chips Central for the latest headlines on processors and semiconductors.

To find out more about the computers and hardware that these chips are being used in, see ZDNet UK's Hardware News Section.

Let the Chips Central editor know what you think by email. And sign up for the weekly Chips Central newsletter.