Asus 901 eee pc Netbook: Low Voltages Arrival?

The spate of recent intel ATOM low-voltage processors has made a variety of products available that bask in the glory of the emerging market “ethic” of energy conservation.

Asus in particular, with their eee pc 901, has coasted for awhile on the branding of their ASUS Eee PC 901 and 900 900 Linux or 900 Windows models as low-voltage, lightweight, SSD flash memory drive equipped netbooks, and a plethora of other manufacturers are following suit, even with availability problems for intels ATOM processors. But who recalls the Transmeta processors, one of those bleeding-edge businesses who employed at various times such luminaries as
Linus Torvalds and Dave D. Taylor? After a partnership with Fujitsu which initiated the lifebook line, they moved into in-order, very long instruction word (VLIW) cores, but lately, they are purely in the patent-portfolio business for low-power design. (nice dissection of the 20G linux version at techrepublic)

The history of transmeta shows up some interesting narratives for examining the difficulty of marketing a conservation oriented consumer product, and along with the heavy use of asus netbooks by youth and the contemporary netbook models such as the OLPC, seems to uphold the historical trope of early adoption by primarily educational market segments… and can’t educational market segments to some extent be called “subsidized”? Maybe a good argument for just straight up government subsidizing of low-voltage research, although some small movements in microprocessor design-licensing might change that if it becomes evident that low power consumption is a profitable race to the near-zero point.

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