IBM has confirmed that it will launch a range of notebook computers based on Transmeta's Crusoe chip later this year.
Following its demonstration of prototype notebooks running Crusoe at the PC Expo show in June, IBM cast doubt on its commitment to the chip and said it was still evaluating customer demand.
However, the company today confirmed that it will offer Crusoe-based versions of its I-Series consumer notebooks in the fourth quarter of this year. The notebooks will be sold direct via IBM's website. Big Blue has not specified whether the notebooks will be available through other channels.
An IBM spokeswoman told vnunet.com that testing and customer evaluation is ongoing, but confirmed that a product launch is planned. She said IBM also has long-term plans to introduce the chip into its entire mobile product line.
In June, IBM had said it "had the ability" to launch a Thinkpad 240 based on Transmeta's processor. However, the spokeswoman confirmed that it would be the I-Series that will house the chip as the 240 range will be phased out later this year.
IBM launched I-Series in June. The laptops weigh around 2.7kg and are 1.4in thick, exactly the type of lightweight product that would benefit from Transmeta's processor.
Transmeta claims that, when running, the Crusoe chip consumes around one watt of power compared with an Intel Pentium's 15 to 20 watts. This means that it uses significantly less battery power, and enables lightweight notebooks to work for up to eight hours. In standby mode, Crusoe consumes about 20 milliwatts of power.
However, research company Gartner has questioned the demand for such low power, lightweight laptops.
Mike McGuire, a PC analyst at Gartner, said that market segment accounts for 10 per cent or less of the total mobile PC market. "Ultra-portables and mini-notebooks are extremely popular in Japan, but not nearly so popular in other regions of the world," he said.
"Nor do we foresee a huge increase in the market share for that segment in the next two or three years."
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