As previously reported, Diamond Multimedia, a division of S3, plans to incorporate Transmeta's combination software-hardware technology in new Web-pad-like devices. S3 sells modems, portable MP3 players, video chips and other technology and is trying to expand into new markets.
S3 plans more partnerships and acquisitions as it moves into Internet appliances and home networking, S3 chief technology officer Andy Wolfe said in a statement.
Transmeta, which came out of hiding yesterday, makes a combination of a chip and specialized software that emulates an Intel chip. Transmeta is aiming for the mobile market, where low-power consumption is important, but a key test for the company will be how fast important hardware manufacturers adopt its chips.
Web pads, not much bigger than their LCD screens, haven't yet hit the mainstream, despite being in development for several years. The easy-to-use devices are typically operated by pen, not keyboard and mouse, and connect to the Net either wirelessly or through a wireless connection to a home networking station or PC. Industry heavyweights such as Intel, National Semiconductor and Palm Computing have all experimented with the concept.
The move underlines Diamond's ongoing efforts to reshape its business. Although historically known for its analog modems and graphics cards, Diamond has been revamping its consumer strategy with its Rio MP3 player as the centerpiece. The device's popularity has encouraged Diamond to believe it can become the trusted name for digital gadgets.
Details on the Diamond Web tablet are sketchy, but the Santa Clara, Calif., company showed a copper-colored device on the stage at yesterday's unveiling of Transmeta's initial processors. Transmeta chief executive Dave Ditzel said in an interview that he expected the first products with the Transmeta chips to ship in the second quarter of this year.
The Diamond product will use Transmeta's lower-end 3120 chip, which costs between $65 and $89 and is in production. Web pads and other devices using the 3120 chip are expected to cost between $500 and $1,000, Transmeta representatives said yesterday.
About a dozen companies plan to use Transmeta chips, Ditzel said. NEC, a manufacturer of notebook computers, is evaluating the chip, said Leonard Tsai, chief technologist at NEC's PC Silicon Valley Center