IBM to unveil five inch long computer

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NEW YORK: International Business Machines Corp.'s research division says it

has developed a prototype of a portable computer module that is the size of a

small pad of paper and has the computing power of a typical notebook or desktop



The portable computing device, which IBM Research will unveil on Feb. 11 at a

technology conference in Phoenix, Arizona, includes 128 megabytes of dynamic

random access memory, a 10-gigabit hard drive and a microprocessor -- which is

the brain of the computer -- that runs at 800 megahertz, or 800 million cycles

per second.

"We've taken the PC down to where you can take it home and finish your

work," said Kenneth Ocheltree, manager for next generation mobile at IBM


Code-named "MetaPad", the module is 5 inches (12.7 cm) long, 3

inches (7.6 cm) wide and about three-quarters of an inch (1.9 cm) thick. The

module fits into a larger accessory piece that includes a small, flat screen on

front and is about 6 inches (15.2 cm) long, 4 inches (10 cm) wide and 1 inch

(2.5 cm) thick.


The index-card sized module can also be plugged into a docking station for a

personal computer, enabling the user to move all of his or her information and

applications from one location to another. It runs Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP

operating system.

Ocheltree said IBM doesn't have specific plans to sell the prototype, which

could be ready for market in few years. IBM is talking to computer makers and

customers about how it could be used, he said.

"We're trying to understand how people would use it and interact with

it," Ocheltree said.


Ocheltree said some possible uses are in areas like medicine, international

customs, and airline and hotel check-in. He said IBM is working on how wireless

technology could be used with the device.

Companies like Palm Inc., Handspring Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. all

make pocket-sized computers with various degrees of computing power that handle

anything from calendar functions to e-mail transmission. PC makers

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. also make handheld computers.

Rapid growth in the handheld market has slowed amid the overall economic

downturn as consumers have tightened up on spending, and the industry is

increasingly introducing wireless devices for communications.

IBM, with a $5 billion research and development budget in 2001, does

everything from exploratory research to application development, working in

computer science, material science, mathematics and physics. For example, it has

worked on making semiconductors smaller and faster.

(C) Reuters Limited.