In desktop and laptop PCs, there’s been an arms race for the last few years between Intel and AMD. But when it comes to low cost ultraportables like the Asus Eee PC and HP Mini-Note, the two-way race has been between Intel and VIA. While the current crop of these computers feature older chips like Intel’s Celeron M CPU and the VIA C7-M chip, both companies are preparing to launch new low-cost, low-power processors that will be used in the vast majority of cheap subnotebooks coming out in the next year or so.

But there are two more copanies hoping to make this a four way race. Arm and Texas Instruments have been making chips for smartphones and PDAs for a number of years. And now the two companies say they want to bring their expertise in producing low power chips to computers. CIO reports that Arm and TI held a press conference yesterday to announce their plans to enter the low-cost computer chip market.

Texas Instrument’s OMAP 3 CPU, which uses an Arm core will be the first to show up in mobile internet devices including mini-notebooks. Device makers are expected to announce several products using the OMAP 3 processor by the end of the year.

In general, Arm ad TI chips are less powerful than VIA and Intel CPUs. But they also use significantly less power, which means longer battery life. If you primarily plan to use a mobile computer for web browsing and word processing, a slower CPU might be good enough. On the other hand, if you want to watch movies, do some audio or video editing, or play games on the go, you’re going to want a bit more juice.

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