Looking to grab the spotlight at this week's Hot Chips 12 conference, Transmeta Corp. formally announced its next-generation notebook PC microprocessor, which is compatible with personal computer MPUs from Intel Corp. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup also said it has begun shipping the new TM5600 series of its Crusoe processors to customers.
The TM5600 Crusoe chips are geared for low-power but high-performance portable computers, said David Ditzel, chief executive of Transmeta. "High-performance processors consume too much power, which makes battery life unacceptably short," said Ditzel in a presentation at the Hot Chips conference on Tuesday. "The TM5600 helps reduce the power consumption in a system."
The TM5600 is similar to the company's previously-announced TM5400, which is a 700-MHz processor aimed for "ultra-light" notebook PCs. Earlier this year, Transmeta made a splash by announcing the TM5400 as well as the TM3200, an entry-level processor geared for Internet-enabled appliances.
Like the TM5400, the TM5600 is a 700-MHz part based on the company's 128-bit VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) architecture. "The underlying architecture for our Crusoe chips is not x86," Ditzel said in an interview after his presentation at Hot Chips on the Stanford University campus. "We can run x86-based instructions, but our architecture looks more like RISC."
Unlike the TM5400, meanwhile, the TM5600 has nearly doubled the on-chip cache, making it ideal for "full-featured" mainstream notebook computers, the company said. While the TM5400 has 384-Kbytes of on-chip cache, the TM5600 has 656-Kbytes.
The new chip also consumes 10% less power than previous versions, the company added. Based on a 0.18-micron process technology, the TM5600 supports two types of memory: double data rate (DDR) and SDRAM. Housed in a 474-pin ball-grid array (BGA) package, the processor is now shipping, the company said. Prices were not disclosed, however.
Concerning Transmeta's previously-announced chips, Ditzel said the company is making inroads in the market--at the expense of rivals in Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. So far, Transmeta has announced design wins with Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM, NEC, and other OEMs.
"These companies have demonstrated products with our chips, but these are not official product introductions," Ditzel said. "Last week, Sony issued a press release as well. Our products have been well received in the market."