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Alchemy's 400MHz, half-watt microprocessor

Another Crusoe? Or the real McCoy?

Alchemy Semiconductor is ready to demonstrate a high-performance, low-power Au1000 processor, the Austin-based company announced Monday.

The chip, based on the MIPS architecture, has a top clock frequency of 500MHz and consumes 900 milliwatts of power, Alchemy Semiconductor said in a statement. But a bigger attraction for manufacturers of portable devices is the processor uses only 500 milliwatts (half a watt) of power when running at 400MHz, the company said.

This is pretty good for a MIPS-based chip, as Intel's StrongArm chips tend to run at or near one watt. Transmeta, maker of the Crusoe chip, much lauded last year without much obvious result, claims Crusoe will run as low as 10 to 20 milliwatts for browsing, but as much as one to two watts running a DVD.

Au1000 is expected be available on a limited basis beginning in February, with a general release coming in the second quarter, Alchemy Semiconductor said.

Alchemy hopes to public ally demonstrate the Au1000 chip from 6 to 8 February at the Microsoft Windows Embedded Developers Conference in Las Vegas.

The Au1000 chip set, originally announced in June of last year, is based on a 32 bit MIPS architecture and the embedded microprocessor is designed to power a wide variety of internet and wireless products such as handheld PDAs (personal digital assistants), the company said.

Furthermore, the chip will run operating systems including Linux, and Microsoft Windows CE, Alchemy Semiconductor said.

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