LAS VEGAS -- During the Comdex trade show here, Transmeta Corp.'s chief executive officer confirmed that the microprocessor startup has entered into a foundry deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., which will process chips with 0.18- and 0.13-micron technology. Until now, IBM Corp. has been Transmeta's sole foundry for processed wafers.
Transmeta CEO David Ditzel said TSMC will help his company reach 700-MHz clock speeds with a 0.18-micron process in the first half of 2001. In the second half of next year, TSMC will produce 800- or 900-MHz chips for Transmeta, using the foundry company's new 0.13-micron process technology, Ditzel said.
Currently, Transmeta's 5600 PC chip runs only at 600 MHz, leaving some analysts to wonder if supply issues had surfaced. Ditzel denied that his company was having trouble securing processed wafers. "IBM is a wonderful partner," he said, referring to Transmeta's current foundry source.
But the Santa Clara, Calif., company is turning to the world's largest silicon foundry supplier, TSMC, to boost performance of its processors in 2001, and it's planning major enhancements to its chip architecture.
In 2002, Transmeta will move to a new, unnamed architecture. The "new Crusoe" will, according to Ditzel, double performance by moving to a 256-bit interface and executing eight instructions per cycle and five on a typical basis.
The current TM 5600 is a 128-bit chip that executes four instructions per cycle maximum and a statistical average of 2.7.
The new Crusoe will lower power under 0.5 W through a new CMS revision, although the die shrink to 0.13 micron should keep the die size about the same, approximately 90 square mm.