S3 To Use New Transmeta Chip In Web Device

S3 Inc., a Santa Clara manufacturer of PC peripherals, says it is readying a Linux "Web pad" that will be powered by a new chip launched Wednesday by Transmeta.

"We'll be shipping it in the first half of this year," an S3 spokesman says. In announcing its intentions, S3 becomes the first vendor to publicly acknowledge plans to use Transmeta processors--dubbed Crusoe--in its product line. Hewlett-Packard and Compaq officials have said they, too, are taking a close look at Transmeta's microprocessors, but have not committed to using them.

S3's product is a text-book-sized pad that features a touch-activated interface and is designed for Web surfing. While the spokesman declined to provide further details, it is likely that the product will specifically incorporate Transmeta's TM 3120 chip, which will run at speeds of up to 400 MHz. Transmeta has priced the TM 3120 at between $65 and $89, so it is also likely the device will be relatively inexpensive.

Transmeta's other chip--the TM 5400--runs at speeds of up to 700 MHz and is intended primarily for notebook PCs. The Crusoe processors are designed to provide extremely long batter life--up to a day's worth--while offering full x86 compatibility.

Privately held, Transmeta is headed by former Sun Microsystems executive David Ditzel. Its investors include billionaire financier George Soros and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Linus Torvalds, inventor of the Linux operating system, works for the company as a programmer.

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