Transmeta to partner with server big boys this year

Transmeta continues to woo the enterprise market with tough talk about making a play for server sales

Low-power microchip manufacturer Transmeta continued its manoeuvres into enterprise computing at the CeBIT computer fair in Germany, with chief technologist Dave Ditzel promising major manufacturing announcements this year.

Ditzel also said that Transmeta hopes to create a version of its Crusoe chip for mobile Internet phones and devices, which are expected to launch in Europe in 2003. Ditzel, the company's founder, also told ZDNet that his company will focus on Japan and Europe with the products before the US, where there is no single mobile network standard.

"Nearly every big name company is talking with us," says Ditzel. "In 2001 you can expect some big name players." In terms of server hardware manufacturers, this means the like of IBM and Compaq, although Ditzel refused to be drawn on exact names. He said that such companies did not wish to distract customers from their current server hardware by making new announcements before time.

Transmeta chips are currently being built into server racks by Fibrecycle, Rebel and RLX, all relatively new startup companies. Transmeta announced plans to build servers using its Crusoe chips, originally touted as a low-power alternative for laptop and Internet appliances, earlier this year. Ditzel says that the cost of rack space and electricity is now making many Internet service providers look towards running smaller and more efficient servers.

"It is such a disruptive change to the way ISPs build servers," he says. "People who don't adapt will left behind." According to Ditzel, a Transmeta-based server can consume as little as an eighth of the space of conventional server racks. He says that a Crusoe chip will use a quarter of the power consumed by an Intel Pentium 3 running at the same clock speed.

The cost of rack space means that there is a growing trend for ultra-slim design among server manufacturers and electricity shortages in California, which have caused periodic blackouts, mean that power consumption may become key to constructing data centres. Chief executive of Fibercycle Spero Koulouras says that his company is testing the technology at a number of US Internet service providers.

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