IBM to Demo Crusoe-based Notebook

  • Written By: R. Krause
  • Published: June 23 2000

IBM to Demo Crusoe-based Notebook
R. Krause - June 23, 2000

Event Summary

For the second time in as many weeks, Transmeta has been named as the processor for a major manufacturer's upcoming product. In late May, Gateway and AOL announced their joint effort to produce an Internet appliance based on the Crusoe processor, and now IBM has said it may use the Crusoe in ThinkPad notebooks due to ship later this year.

IBM said it will have a technology demonstration of one notebook at the PC Expo (June 26-29 in NYC), and is considering offering Crusoe-based models later this year.

Transmeta, which unveiled the Crusoe after months/years of speculation, is focusing on mobile Internet computing. One of Crusoe's much-publicized features is its very low power consumption, meaning it can (theoretically) run all day on a single battery, thus making it a good fit for notebook computers and handheld devices.

Market Impact

This is the next step in Transmeta's plans for microprocessor world domination. When Transmeta announced the Crusoe chip, one of the areas where it focused was notebooks and mobile computing. At the time they discussed (without divulging names) partnering agreements with key manufacturers. Along with original backers Compaq Computer and Sony, they have revealed Gateway as their partner for an Internet appliance (Ref. "Gateway & AOL Follow Crusoe's Footprints"). Adding IBM as their notebook partner gives them even more credibility - for now. Dell Computer has made it abundantly clear that they are currently Intel-only, so we do not expect them to join the Crusoe yet. We do expect Transmeta to expand their partnerships in the low-power end, including handhelds.

If Transmeta is able to deliver on the promise of all-day battery power, we expect the other major notebook manufacturers (Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Gateway) to develop Crusoe-based products within 12-18 months. If IBM is able to deliver a quality product, we see their sales increasing markedly by early 2001.

Intel is not expected to stand still, and a likely response will include mobile Celeron and SpeedStep technologies - if they can make it less power-hungry. Likewise, AMD will probably accelerate work on its low-power offering. (Ref. "Cooler-running Notebooks from HP, Toshiba, et al.")

User Recommendations

Once you get past the Transmeta buzz/hype, the idea of a notebook needing only one battery charge for a transcontinental flight is extremely attractive, especially to the non-Solitaire players. Although a lot can happen between the announcement of a Crusoe-based notebook and the actual shipment and problem-free usage of production-grade machines, many people will anxiously await this product from IBM.

As with all new products, and especially those utilizing new technologies, we advise some caution before placing a Purchase Order for a large quantity - even if IBM's PC Expo demo is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Although we know of nothing fundamentally wrong with the Crusoe, usually the risks associated with new technologies are inherently greater than risks associated with new products using older or upgraded technologies. IBM should be rigorous in its testing of Transmeta products, and customers should perform their own rigorous reviews. Once the product is "cleared", customers should have far less worry.

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