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Fujitsu to release Transmeta notebooks in November

The company plans to release two notebooks containing Crusoe processors in November, bringing the total number of companies coming out with Transmeta-based products to seven.

Fall is shaping up to be Transmeta's season.

As previously reported, Fujitsu will release two notebooks containing Crusoe processors from Transmeta in November, the company will announce today, bringing the total number of companies coming out with Transmeta-based products to seven.

Transmeta, which recently filed for an initial public offering, specializes in microprocessors for notebooks and Internet appliances that are compatible with standard PC technology but consume less power than competing chips from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices.

As a result, Transmeta notebooks promise to be lightweight (because they need less insulation and no fans) and to run longer on a single battery charge.

For example, the Fujitsu Biblo Loox S, one of the notebooks coming this fall, will weigh 2.2 pounds and can run for eight hours on a regular battery, according to Fujitsu. The Fujitsu Look T weighs 3.3 pounds but comes with a DVD drive. Both notebooks initially will be marketed in Japan only.

Many of Crusoe's benefits, however, have yet to be tested in the outside world. Although Transmeta introduced the chip in January, neither the chip nor computers using it have hit the open market. Analysts have complained about a lack of independent benchmarks and stated that no one really knows how well these chips will stack up.

In addition, both Intel and AMD are tweaking their chips to run on less power.

But Dave Ditzel, Transmeta's CEO, has said that Crusoe-based notebooks will perform just as well as competing chips in real-world circumstances. A 700-MHz Crusoe 5600 will perform just as well as a 700-MHz Pentium III, he said.

"We designed Crusoe to deliver good performance with maximum battery life," he said. In any event, the public and analysts will be able to see for themselves when Sony releases the first Crusoe-based notebooks in October.

Although the public has yet to see the chip, manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. Technically, only Sony and Fujitsu have announced products based on Crusoe chips. Executives at Hitachi and IBM, however, have already said that their companies will introduce light Crusoe notebooks later this year. Gateway and Diamond Multimedia, meanwhile, plan to come out with Web pads based on Crusoe, sources close to the companies have said.

Quanta, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer, will also produce Transmeta notebooks. The company, in fact, will manufacture both IBM's and Gateway's products.

Compaq Computer and NEC are also expected to come out with Transmeta-based products.

Some of these companies have equity investments in Transmeta, but Fujitsu does not.