Transmeta, a manufacturer of low-power, Intel-compatible chips, has signed up Chinese computer maker Chinese 2000 Holdings to develop and market low-cost Linux-based devices such as notebooks, PCs and set-top boxes.
Transmeta says its chips consume less power than Intel or AMD processors with similar performance, but has struggled to win contracts with major PC makers. The company said it hopes a growing interest in Linux in the Asia-Pacific region will boost demand for Transmeta-powered products.
Chinese 2000 Holdings will develop products based on Midori Linux -- Transmeta's own Linux distribution for mobile devices. In exchange, Transmeta said it has taken an equity ownership in the company, as well as a profit-sharing arrangement for revenues from the sale of Midori Linux services and support. The companies are aiming products at China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Asia-Pacific countries have grown interested in Linux because, unlike much other software, its intellectual property is not owned by US multinational corporations. Linux is distributed under an open-source licence that broadly allows anyone to modify and redistribute the code, as long as the modifications are shared with the developer community.
The Chinese government is backing a home-grown Linux distribution called Red Flag, while in Thailand, HP is selling a low-cost "people's notebook" running on Linux.
Because of Linux's stability, some electronics makers are already using it to power high-end consumer electronics devices, the best-known probably being the TiVo digital video recorder.
"Transmeta's unique combination of microprocessor, system-level and Linux expertise, coupled with Chinese 2000 Holdings' experience in the Asian markets, make a formidable partnership," said Transmeta president and chief executive Dr. Matthew R. Perry, in a statement. "Together, we offer our customers a comprehensive approach to Linux-based computing."
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