On Tuesday (Oct 14) Transmeta Corporation introduced the low-power x86-compatible Efficeon TM8000 microprocessor family. Aimed at ultra-portable and mainstream notebook computers, as well as new classes of devices such as tablet PCs, ultra-personal computers, silent desktop computers, blade servers, thin clients and embedded systems, Transmeta's Efficeon processor family "will be competitive with, or outperform competing microprocessors operating within critical thermal limits such as the 7W limit for typical fanless notebook designs, "according to a company statement. Systems based on the processor are expected to begin shipping in the fourth quarter.
TM8000 is based upon a new silicon microarchitecture and also a redesigned version of Transmeta's Code Morphing Software. The microarchitecture, in turn, is based on a 256-bit VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) processor that can issue up to 8 internal instructions per clock cycle. When combined with the new Efficeon Code Morphing Software, it provides full compatibility with modern x86 software, including MMX, SSE and SSE2 multimedia instructions.
Efficeon features a number of new interfaces integrated into the same chip as the processor, eliminating the need for a separate Northbridge chip. Efficeon includes a high speed AGP-4X graphics interface that enables the use of industry standard AGP graphics solutions. Efficeon includes a DDR-400 (Double Data Rate at 400 Megatransfers/second SDRAM) memory interface with ECC (Error Correcting Code) as an option.
Efficeon includes a HyperTransport interconnect for connecting to the rest of the system. Efficeon's HyperTransport interface can send data at up to 1.6 GB/sec aggregate, which is up to 12 times faster than the I/O throughput of Crusoe's PCI interface. Efficeon also has a high speed LPC (Low Pin Count) bus interface for communicating with the latest generation of FLASH memory.
Transmeta said that it and NVIDIA have been working jointly together on small package solutions. The Efficeon TM8620 21x21mm small package combined with NVIDIA's 22x22mm nForce3 Go 120 Southbridge will allow the combination of CPU, Northbridge and Southbridge to fit in a space "nearly four times smaller than that of its nearest competitor," according to Transmeta. The standard model Efficeon TM8600 processor will be offered in a 29x29mm package.
Initially, Efficeon silicon will be manufactured for Transmeta by TSMC in Taiwan, in TMSC's 0.13 micron (130 nanometer) CMOS technology at clock speeds starting at 1 GHz and above. Starting in the second half of 2004, Efficeon silicon will also be manufactured for Transmeta at Fujitsu's Akiruno Technology Center near Tokyo, Japan, at speeds up to 2 GHz, using Fujitsu's 90 nm CMOS process.
"Efficeon represents a major leap forward in CPU performance for Transmeta," said David R. Ditzel, co-founder, vice-chairman and chief technology officer of Transmeta. "Efficeon's 256-bit VLIW engine and new Code Morphing Software represents a major step forward in computer architecture, and will help bring Transmeta into new markets."
To learn more about Transmeta's Efficeon processor, click here