Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to use Transmeta Corp.s 1GHz Crusoe TM5800 processors to give the forthcoming Compaq Evo Tablet PC better battery performance, HP officials said.
Transmeta, of Santa Clara, Calif., has chips in ultralight notebooks from manufacturers based in Japan such as Sony Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., Hitachi Ltd. and NEC Corp. but has had less luck in the United States. IBM had plans to use Transmeta chips in some of its notebooks but canceled those plans in October 2000.
Transmetas processors are significantly less expensive than those of its competitors. But U.S. computer makers have generally stuck with such leaders as Intel Corp., which promises upgrades and extensions.
For that reason, some question HPs decision, arguing that enterprises are more likely to trust units powered by Intel processors.
"The industry needs competition from other software [vendors] and chip makers," said Nicholas Gass, IT manager at Color Kinetics Inc., a digital lighting company in Boston. "In this light, Id like to support smaller companies like Transmeta, especially when they partner with big companies like HP."
"[But] it always makes me uneasy going with the smaller players, especially for something as fundamental as the processing chip," Gass said. "With an Intel chip, you can feel pretty confident that you wont have too many conflicts with anything else. With a Transmeta chip, who knows?"
Two years ago, Transmeta got the industrys attention when it introduced its low-voltage, cooler-running chips for the handheld digital market. But the company took so long bringing the products to market last year that industry leaders Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. caught up and released low-power processors of their own. The 5800 chip was due last summer but didnt start shipping until February.
HP plans to introduce the Tablet PC later this year, when Microsoft Corp. announces the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. The device is basically a PC that enables users to write directly on the screen with a stylus. It is about the size of a pad of paper.