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Transmeta Unveiled

Transmeta Unveiled - PCSTATS
Abstract: On January 19th PCstats.com covered the release of the Crusoe family of processors by Transmeta Corp.

Crusoe represents a 'rethinking' of the moblie processors - and at 700Mhz, the Crusoe is the most powerful and inexpensive to boot! Check out the specs...

Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Transmeta Jan 22 2000   J. Kupka  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > Transmeta

Crusoe Specs

Crusoe's Specs - How does it work?

TM5400: First of lets mention the price of and speed of the processors. The price of the TM5400 Crusoe is $119-$329 for 700Mhz, it contains 384KB total of Cache, and is based upon the 0.18 micron die process. It Uses 1 Watt of power to run, and can go as low as 8mW. performance in mobile applications. Comparing it to a PIII 500, Transmeta said that the performance was slightly better in industry standard benchmarks. To demonstrate these new processors Transmeta had created its own set of benchmarks, but difficulty has arisen in drawing comparison as there is no familiarity with the new tests. TM5400 will be available by mid-year.

TM3120: The TM3120 will be between $65-$85 for 400MHz speeds, and contain 91KB of Cache. Die size is 0.22, and power consumption is 1 Watt and can go as low as 20mW. Transmeta boasts that with this processor in a web appliance, all day usage on one battery charge should easily be expected. While not in release at the moment the Web Pad and future software will also enable handwriting recognition, making this product extremely versatile. It's Mobile Linux Operation system will be open sourced in the great tradition of Linux. It is currently available.

IBM will be manufacturing both of the processors, which are also "software upgradable," and will run in conjunction with SDRAM. Both chips possess a superfluidity which enables bugs to be rapidly fixed, and within very short times, as only software fixed are required in most cases as opposed to changes in silicon. Also Long Run technology is employed which parallels Intel's just released Speed Step System. Long Run allows the processor to modify its power usage during off peak times. One other cool part of this is that as the computer is run, the system monitors itself and optimizes those parts which are run most frequently. This on the fly optimization is a neat "learning" function that the processor is able to do to improve its performance as you use it. Both processors support MMX, but as of yet do not support 3D-Now. Plans for Transmeta to support the Macintosh operating system were described as not a point of "focus", however it has the capability to support essentially any Operation System.

The Chips themselves both run on VLIW and code-morphing engines, thought the two are not compatible if switched. VLIW was described by Linus as being very resilient towards virus attack - an issue which could be crippling in a software driven processor. Accordingly VLIW takes control of the system early on in the boot p process to effectively block any attempts by program residing viruses to attack. The TM5400 is able to run Linux, Windows 98, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 operating systems.

TM3120 333-400MHz, 0.22 micron process, 1 watt power $65-$85 Web Appliances

TM5400 500-700MHz, 0.18 micron process, 1 watt power $119-$329 Sub-Notebook

The VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) engine is an instruction set opf software surrounding the core the enables the Crusoe processor to run x86 software/hardware. The translation that occurs has been termed Code Morphing as it dynamically "morphs" instructions to that of the processor's native instruction set. This optimization helps to reduce the total number of instructions and thus transistors required. Of significant interest is this sentence from Transmetas web site; "The Code Morphing software can evolve separately from hardware. This means that upgrades to the software portion of the microprocessor can be rolled out independently of hardware chip revisions." That could mean that Crusoe will be MHz-upgradable thru successive software iterations.

Can Crusoe Compete?

Transmeta is able to support their processors on a completely different time scale than x86 manufacturers can, or ever will be able to. The greatest benefit to the Transmeta business that the Code Morphing Software they have developed creates is within the product support and development arenas:

Support; The Crusoe software set has the ability to be upgraded over the Internet; bugs that are reported can be verified, fixed and updated in a matter of days. The x86 chip bug-fix cycle lasts months. By virtue of it's design, Transmeta can support and satisfy it's Crusoe customers on a level that their competition cannot reach.

Development; Iterations of Transmeta's processors can be released on a shorter time-scale than those of x86 manufacturers. They can put out updated, optimized software that users will be able to apply to their processor to increase performance which is absolutely huge. Think of it this way: you have a machine that runs the TM5400. Three months after it was released (and you bought it), Transmeta makes an optimized version of the Code Morphing software, which is made available for you to download and apply to your machine, to increase performance.

Mobile processing will be the first arena of competition for Transmeta. The Crusoe processors will allow for the creation of a sub-four pound, 700MHz laptop, with high quality multimedia and battery life considerably longer than current standards. Currently laptops make up 17% of the computer market share, but Transmeta believes that their "lighter form factors" will "cannibalize" the market share of larger machines, increasing mobile market share in the coming years.

Transmeta has a better mobile strategy and platform than any other. They have created themselves a significant opportunity to dominate the mobile computing market of the future.

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Contents of Article: Transmeta
 Pg 1.  Transmeta Unveiled
 Pg 2.  — Crusoe Specs
 Pg 3.  Where Will Crusoe Be Seen?

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   03 / 23 / 2019 | 6:41PM
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