Transmeta's low-power Crusoe chip will not be ready for mainstream use for at least another two generations of the technology, according to researcher Gartner.
Kevin Knox, senior analyst at Gartner, said: "The two major advantages Crusoe has are that it goes into a small system and its power savings. But the question is exactly how much power does it save? An extra hour would not be enough to justify moving away from Intel, but three to four would be worth it."
IBM last week abandoned plans to launch a Crusoe-powered notebook, citing insufficient power saving benefits. An IBM spokeswoman has since told vnunet.com that Crusoe had missed IBM's battery life expectations.
"In terms of living up to expectations, it didn't," said the spokeswoman. The IBM 480 notebook has a battery life of 4.5 hours and it was hoped that Crusoe would extend this to eight hours. However, Crusoe only managed 5.5 hours in IBM's benchmarking tests, said the spokeswoman. IBM is still working with Intel, AMD and Transmeta.
Speaking at Gartner Symposium/ITXpo in Cannes this week, Knox said: "The main issue is performance. The chip uses emulation or 'code morphing' and therefore does not give the same performance as you get with Intel.
"The reason IBM moved away from the chip is that either there was not enough power or there was not enough performance."
Transmeta claims Crusoe consumes just one watt of power when running, compared with the 15 to 20 watts that Intel's Pentium uses, which significantly improves battery life. The US startup claims battery life can be extended to eight hours, compared with four hours on an equivalent Intel-run laptop.
Transmeta's VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) code morphing software undertakes a number of functions in software that were previously handled by silicon. The company's LongRun power management technology also adjusts speed and voltage dynamically to optimise the chip to process any given application.
The startup made its initial public offering this week and raised $273m from 13 million shares priced at $21 each.
Additional reporting by Andrew Craig
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