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IBM cans Crusoe

Big Blue's battery life plans battered by benchmark bagatelle

With minimal comment, IBM has cancelled the release of a Transmeta-powered laptop.

IBM had planned to use Transmeta's low-energy Crusoe microprocessor chips in its ThinkPad 240 laptop personal computers, and had even demonstrated a Crusoe laptop at the PC Expo trade show in New York in June. Originally, IBM said they would start shipping by the fourth quarter of 2000.

It turns out the Crusoe chip failed the original expectations IBM had of it miserably. IBM had hoped to jump the ThinkPad 240 from four and a half hours battery life to eight hours, but when benchmarked the Crusoe only increased the 240’s life to between five and five and a half hours.

But IBM hasn’t ended its relationship with Transmeta, the company co-founded by Linus Torvalds, the inventor of open source operating system Linux. “The only thing we can say is that it is only this one project, and that we're continuing to look for ways to lower the energy costs for consumers,” said Rick Bause, an IBM spokesman. “We will continue to look at Transmeta on an ongoing basis.”

Sony released a laptop with the Crusoe chip in the US, the Vaio C1 PictureBook, late in October. NEC and Hitachi also have Transmeta-powered computers, but only in Japan and in limited quantities.

Hitachi Software Engineering, which recently launched the company’s first notebooks available in the UK, was unable to comment as to whether it would be bringing out a Crusoe-powered notebook in the UK.

IBM Microelectronics manufactures the Crusoe processors for Transmeta, which is a so-called ‘fabless’ semiconductor company, with no production facilities of its own.

License fees from IBM and Toshiba constituted substantially all of Transmeta's revenue in 1997, 1998 and 1999, according to the document.

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