With the appropriate anti-static measures
taken, we took a peek inside the AquaPad
to see how everything is layed out and what components FIC uses. The first thing
noticeable about the PCB is that it uses a standard notebook SODIMM module of memory.
In this case, 128MB of Micron PC133 SDRAM. The maximum memory size which the
AquaPad will support in the one
we can see in this picture are the system battery, a
LynxEM+ chipset, and the Ali M1535 Southbridge on
If we flip over the PCB it's possible to take a look at the internal 32MB flash card
which originally held the Midori Linux V1.0.0 RC1 Build1022 operating system. To clear
up some problems we were having with the AquaPad, the OS was remotely updated
over the internet to the latest AquaPad version of Midori Linux (fixed everything
nicely). The large metal square is not a hard drive but the slot for the Type
II PCMCIA card which enables the AquaPad to connect to the network. Right next
to the PCMCIA slot is a small black heatsink which covers the 500MHz TM5400 Crusoe
After streaming some audio continuously for a few hours, the warmest the AquaPad
ever got was about 30 degrees, and most of that was a by product of
the LCD backlight I believe. Still, it's better to be safe than sorry, and
the heatsink ensures that the Crusoe chip never reaches high temperatures.
TM5400 Crusoe Processor
Like many subnotebooks
on the market today, the FIC AquaPad is powered by a Transmeta Crusoe
processor. While the 500Mhz TM5400 Crusoe has been eclipsed by
the new 0.13micron TM5800 series, it still provides enough power for webpads like
the AquaPad which are used to browse the internet.
The TM5400 is an older chip based on the 0.18
micron processes and it contains 128Kb of L1 and 512KB of L2 cache. Average power
consumption is on the order of 0.1 Watts.
Intel's mobile processors, the Transmeta chips
operate with very low power requirements and produce relatively little heat
no cooling fans are required. A heatsink
is attached to the core of the Crusoe however, but
there are no vents in the AquaPad casing. The backlight for
the LCD screen generates most of the heat in the unit, and the all-magnesium enclosure
helps to draw that away to the surrounding environment.
The Crusoe processor, as most
of you already know, is a software-based processor. This means that the native language
this X86 compatible chip operates under is 128-bit VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word). VLIW is something
that bears no resemblance to that of traditional Intel chips, which are also
known as X86 processors.
Transmeta's Code Morphing Software layer 'surrounds' the
processor and enables it to communicate with the operating system, be it Linux
or Windows based. Code Morphing basically makes the VLIW Crusoe processor x86
compatible by means of an interpreter. Its task is to interpret x86 instructions. The Interpreter
also filters the x86 code so that sections of code executed frequently are passed to the Translator
for optimization. CMS recompiles the x86 instructions into its native language and optimizes them
to reduce the overall number of instructions executed.
Crusoe processors are also different from most processors in that they contain their
own Northbridge, further reducing overall system power requirements.
Most of Crusoe's functionality is implemented via the CMS
software layer so less transistors are needed in the silicon. With less
transistors, the power requirements are lessened. Additionally, CMS software
upgrades can improve overall system performance, and this is an area Transmeta
has so far been attending to every six months or so.