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Encyclopedia > Transmeta
Transmeta Corporation
Type
Founded 1995
Headquarters Silicon Valley, USA
Key people Bob Cmelik, Dave Ditzel, Colin Hunter
Industry Semiconductors
Products Microprocessors
Website www.transmeta.com

Transmeta NASDAQ: TMTA develops computing technologies with a focus on reducing power consumption in electronic devices. Transmeta was founded in 1995 by Bob Cmelik, Dave Ditzel, Colin Hunter, Ed Kelly, Doug Laird, Malcolm Wing, and Grzegorz Zynerlo as a US-based corporation that designed VLIW code morphing microprocessors. To date, it has produced two x86 compatible CPU architectures: the Crusoe and Efficeon processors. These CPUs have appeared in ultra-portable Laptops, Blade servers, Tablet PCs, and a silent desktop, where low power consumption and heat dissipation are of primary importance. 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A view of downtown San Jose, the self-proclaimed Capital of Silicon Valley. ... A semiconductor is a material that is an insulator at very low temperature, but which has a sizable electrical conductivity at room temperature. ... A microprocessor (sometimes abbreviated µP) is a programmable digital electronic component that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit (CPU) on a single semiconducting integrated circuit (IC). ... A website (or Web site) is a collection of web pages, typically common to a particular domain name or subdomain on the World Wide Web on the Internet. ... NASDAQ in Times Square, New York City. ... Motto: (Out Of Many, One) (traditional) In God We Trust (1956 to date) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington D.C. Largest city New York City None at federal level (English de facto) Government Federal constitutional republic  - President George Walker Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence from... A corporation is a legal person which, while being composed of natural persons, exists completely separately from them. ... A Very Long Instruction Word or VLIW CPU architecture implements a form of instruction level parallelism. ... A microprocessor (sometimes abbreviated µP) is a programmable digital electronic component that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit (CPU) on a single semiconducting integrated circuit (IC). ... x86 or 80x86 is the generic name of a microprocessor architecture first developed and manufactured by Intel. ... To a large extent, the design of a CPU, or central processing unit, is the design of its control unit. ... Crusoe is a family of x86-compatible microprocessors from Transmeta. ... The Transmeta Efficeon processor is their second-generation 256-bit VLIW design which employs a software engine to convert code written for x86 processors to the native instruction set of the chip. ... A laptop computer or simply laptop (also notebook computer or notebook) is a small mobile personal computer, which usually weighs 2. ... IBM HS20 blade server. ... A tablet PC is a notebook- or slate-shaped mobile computer. ...

Contents

History

Throughout their first few years, little was known about exactly what Transmeta would be offering. Their webpage went online in mid-1997, but for around two and a half years displayed nothing but the text "This web page is not yet here." Information gradually came out of the company, suggesting of a VLIW-based design that translated x86 code into its own native code. As Intel's then-forthcoming "Merced" processor was also a VLIW design which could translate x86 code, much wild and ultimately inaccurate speculation whipped up (though none of it by Transmeta themselves) suggesting that Transmeta's product could have supercomputer-level processing power while actually being cheaper to manufacture than any offering by Intel, AMD or Cyrix. 1997 (MCMXCVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A Very Long Instruction Word or VLIW CPU architecture implements a form of instruction level parallelism. ... Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC, SEHK: 4335), founded in 1968 as Integrated Electronics Corporation, is an American multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... Itanium 2 logo Old Itanium logo The Itanium is an IA-64 microprocessor developed jointly by Hewlett-Packard and Intel. ... Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. ... Cyrix corporate logo Cyrix was a CPU manufacturer that began in 1988 as a specialist supplier of high-performance math co-processors for 286 and 386 systems. ...


In fact, Transmeta marketed their microprocessor technology as extraordinarily innovative and revolutionary in the low-power market segment. They had hoped to be both power and performance leaders in the x86 space. However initial reviews of the Crusoe indicated the performance fell significantly short of projections. [1] Furthermore, the market did not stand still during Crusoe development -- Intel and AMD had significantly ramped up speeds and began to address increasing concerns about power consumption -- and so the initial offering, Crusoe, was rapidly cornered into a low-volume, small form factor (SFF), low-power segment of the market.


This forced a rapid re-design of the technology, marketed as the Efficeon processor. The Efficeon claimed to have twice the performance of the original Crusoe CPU at the same frequency. However, the performance was still weak relative to the competition, and the complexity of the chip had increased significantly. This increased size and power consumption may have diluted a key market advantage Transmeta's chips had previously enjoyed over the competition.


Transmeta has employed a number of industry luminaries such as Linus Torvalds and Dave Taylor. Initially, its purpose was kept secret, but partially because it had such talent amongst its staff, the industry was constantly abuzz with rumors in addition to 'conspiracy theories' resulting in excellent press relations (PR). Linus Benedict Torvalds (born December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland) is a Finnish software engineer best known for initiating the development of the Linux kernel. ... Dave D. Taylor Dave D. Taylor is a game programmer, perhaps best known as a former id Software employee and noted for his work promoting Linux gaming. ... A conspiracy theory attempts to explain the ultimate cause of an event or chain of events (usually political, social, or historical events) as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance of powerful or influential people or organizations. ... Wikibooks has more about this subject: Marketing Public relations (PR) is the art of managing communication between an organization and its key publics to build, manage and sustain a positive image. ...


Linus Torvalds left Transmeta in June 2003 to dedicate himself to the further development of the Linux kernel. The most valuable asset held by Transmeta at the present time is their patent portfolio, and rumors persist that the company might be bought by a larger player such as AMD or even Microsoft for this reason. Linus Benedict Torvalds (born December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland) is a Finnish software engineer best known for initiating the development of the Linux kernel. ... June 2003 : January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December Events June 1, 2003 The Group of Eight summit opens in Evian, France to tight security and tens of thousands of protestors. ... The Linux kernel is a Unix-like operating system kernel. ... A patent portfolio is a collection of patents filed and owned by a single inventor or corporation that may be related or unrelated. ... Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. ... Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44. ...


As an example of technology media hype, the company was once named as the Most important company in Silicon Valley in an Upside magazine editorial. Less well reported was that the company was never profitable while it was a chip vendor. In 2002, the company had a loss of $114 million dollars, in 2003 a loss of $88 million, in 2004 a loss of $107 million. INS agents recover Elián González by force from his uncles house; this photo, taken by AP photographer Alan Diaz, won him a Pulitzer Prize. ... Upside was a San Francisco-based business and technology magazine for venture capitalists. ...


As of January 2005 the company announced a strategic restructuring away from being a chip product company to an intellectual property company. That is, instead of selling chips the company will now sell technology for use by other chip makers. In February 2005, there was wild speculation that AMD might buy out Transmeta. In March 2005 the company announced that it was laying off 68 people, leaving 208 employees. About half of the remaining employees were to work on propagating the LongRun2 power optimization technology within Sony products. Sony was reported to be a key licensee of this Transmeta technology. 2005 : January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December- → Deaths in January • 29 Ephraim Kishon • 25 Philip Johnson • 23 Johnny Carson • 22 Parveen Babi • 20 Jan Nowak-Jeziorański • 17 Virginia Mayo • 17 Zhao Ziyang • 15... February 2005 : ← - January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December - → Pope John Paul II is taken to a hospital suffering from a serious case of influenza. ... ← - 2005 : January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December- → Deaths in March • 31 – Terri Schiavo • 30 – Mitch Hedberg • 29 – Johnnie Cochran • 27 – Wilfred Bigelow • 26 – Paul Hester • 26 – James Callaghan • 21 – Jeff Weise • 21 – Bobby Short • 19 – John De Lorean • 18 – Gary Bertini • 17 – George F... LongRun2 is a power saving technology in the Transmeta Efficeon processor. ...


On May 31, 2005, Transmeta announced the signing of asset purchase and license agreements with Hong Kong's Culture.com Technology Limited led by Chu Bong-Foo, the inventor of the Cangjie method and one of the founding fathers of modern Chinese computing. However, due to delays in obtaining the necessary technology export licenses from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the parties announced the termination of this agreement on February 9, 2006. May 31 is the 151st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (152nd in leap years), with 214 days remaining. ... Chu Bong-Foo (朱邦復) invented the Cangjie method, the most widely available Chinese input method, in 1976. ... The Cangjie method (倉頡輸入法, 仓颉输入法)—originally spelt Changjei method—is a system by which Chinese characters may be entered into the computer. ... The United States Department of Commerce is a Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with promoting economic growth. ... February 9 is the 40th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ...


On August 10, 2005, Transmeta announced its first ever profitable quarter. On March 20, 2006, GameSpot reported that Transmeta is working on an "unnamed" Microsoft project, probably the Origami. 1 August 10 is the 222nd day of the year (223rd in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... March 20 is the 79th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (80th in Leap years). ... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... GameSpot is a computer and video gaming website that was launched in May 1996 by Pete Deemer, Vince Broady, and Jon Epstein. ... It has been suggested that DialKeys be merged into this article or section. ...


On October 11, 2006, Transmeta announced that it had filed a lawsuit against Intel Corporation for the infringement on ten of Transmeta's U.S. patents. The lawsuit, filed with the United States District Court of Delaware, requested an injuction against Intel's continuing sales of infringing products and also requested monetary compensation for damages. October 11 is the 284th day of the year (285th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC)(SEHK: 4335) is the worlds largest semiconductor company and the leading manufacturer of the x86 series of microprocessors, the processor in IBM PC-compatible personal computers. ...


Technology

The actual TM processors are in-order VLIW cores. To execute x86 code, a pure software-based instruction translator dynamically compiles or emulates x86 code sequences, using execution-hotspot guided heuristics. While similar technologies existed (WABI for Sun, FX!32 for Alpha and IA-32 EL for Itanium) in the 90s, the TM approach has set a much higher bar for compatibility—able to execute all x86 instructions from initial boot up to the latest multimedia instructions—while retaining most of its core performance. A Very Long Instruction Word or VLIW CPU architecture implements a form of instruction level parallelism. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Compile (software company). ... This article is about emulation in computer science. ... In computer science, besides the common use as rule of thumb (see heuristic), the term heuristic has two well-defined technical meanings. ... WABI is the Windows Application Binary Interface, a product from Sun Microsystems. ... Sun Microsystems, Inc. ... FX!32 is a software emulator program that allows x86 Win32 programs to execute on Digital Alpha/NT systems. ... DEC Alpha AXP 21064 Microprocessor The DEC Alpha, also known as the Alpha AXP, is a 64-bit RISC microprocessor originally developed and fabricated by Digital Equipment Corp (DEC). ... Itanium 2 logo Old Itanium logo The Itanium is an IA-64 microprocessor developed jointly by Hewlett-Packard and Intel. ...


Transmeta claims several technical benefits to this approach:

  1. As the market leaders Intel and/or AMD would extend the core x86 instruction set, Transmeta could quickly upgrade their product with a software upgrade rather than requiring a respin of their hardware.
  2. Performance and power can be tuned in software to meet market needs
  3. It would be a relatively simple matter to fix hardware design or manufacturing flaws in the hardware using software workarounds.
  4. More time could be spent concentrating on enhancing the capabilities of the core or reducing its power consumption without worrying about 16 years of backward compatibility to the x86 architecture.
  5. The processor could emulate multiple other architectures, possibly even at the same time. (At its initial Crusoe launch, Transmeta demonstrated pico-Java and x86 running intermixed on the native hardware.)

Prior to Crusoe release, rumors indicated Transmeta was relying on these benefits to develop a hybrid PowerPC and x86 processor. However, Transmeta would initially concentrate solely on the extremely low-power x86 market. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC, SEHK: 4335), founded in 1968 as Integrated Electronics Corporation, is an American multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. ... A workaround is a bypass of a recognized problem in a system. ... This generational and chronological list of Intel microprocessors attempts to present all of Intels processors (µPs) from the pioneering 4-bit 4004 (1971) to the present high-end offerings, the 64-bit Itanium 2 (2002) and Intel Core 2 and Xeon 5100 and 7100 series processors (2006). ... IBM PowerPC 601 Microprocessor PowerPC is a RISC microprocessor architecture created by the 1991 Apple–IBM–Motorola alliance, known as AIM. Originally intended for personal computers, PowerPC CPUs have since become popular embedded and high-performance processors as well. ...


Viability

Transmeta lost much credibility and endured significant criticism due to the poor initial Crusoe showing with large discrepancies between projections and actuals for both performance and power. On one hand, the power numbers showed a reasonable improvement over the Intel and AMD offerings. However the end user experience (i.e. battery life) only showed a marginal overall improvement. [2] First, the Code Morphing Software (CMS) combined with cache architecture artificially inflated comparisons between benchmarks and real-world applications. This is due to the repetitive nature of benchmarks and their small footprints. The CMS software overhead may have actually been a key cause of much lower performance for many real-world applications; the simple VLIW core architecture could not compete on computationally-intensive applications; and the southbridge interface was limited by its low bandwidth for graphics or other I/O-intensive applications. Some standard benchmarks even failed to run, questioning its claim of full x86 compatibility. [3] Crusoe is a family of x86-compatible microprocessors from Transmeta. ... A Very Long Instruction Word or VLIW CPU architecture implements a form of instruction level parallelism. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


The Efficeon addressed many of the Crusoe shortcomings and showed roughly a 2x real-world improvement over Crusoe. In addition, its die size was considerably smaller than either the Pentium 4 or the Pentium M, when compared in the same process technology. Efficeon's die size in 90 nm is 68 mm², which is 60% of the Pentium 4 in 90 nm, at 112 mm², with both processors possessing a 1 MB L2 cache.


The notion of selling a product into a specific thermal envelope was typically not understood by the mass of reviewers, who tended to compare Efficeon against the gamut of x86 microprocessors, regardless of power consumption or application. One such example of this criticism suggests the performance still significantly lagged Intel's Pentium M (Banias) and AMD's Mobile Athlon XP. [4] Introduced in March 2003, the Pentium M is an x86 architecture microprocessor designed and manufactured by Intel. ... Athlon is the brand name applied to a series of different x86 processors designed and manufactured by AMD. The original Athlon, or Athlon Classic, was the first seventh-generation x86 processor and, in a first, retained the initial performance lead it had over Intels competing processors for a significant...


For the thermal envelope in which Efficeon was designed to compete (7 W and 12 W), there are unsubstantiated claims that its frequency far exceeded anything else in the market, at 1.5 GHz and 7 W, while the Centrino at the time could only operate within the 7 W envelope when its frequency was reduced to 1.1 GHz. This claim also admittedly considers only CPU frequency and does not consider other very significant factors in overall performance, such as core CPI (clocks per instruction), or memory performance and bandwidth, which have varying impact on different benchmarks and system configurations. Components of the Centrino platform. ... Cycles per instruction, also known as clock cycles per instruction, or clocks per instruction (CPI) is the number of clock cycles that happen when a instruction is being executed by a computer with a given clock frequency. ...


Unfortunately for Transmeta, other components within a laptop computer also consume power, such as the LCD display and Hard disk drive. Since laptops with Transmeta CPUs share these components with regular laptops, the net increase in battery life was not large enough to make much difference to customers. LCD redirects here. ... Typical hard drives of the mid-1990s. ...


Origins as a Stealth Startup

The company began as something known as a Stealth Startup. Transmeta attempted to staff the company in secret, although speculation online was not uncommon (e.g. [5]). One source of speculation was the company's bare-bones webpage. On November 12, 1999, a cryptic comment in the HTML appeared [6]:

<!---Yes, there is a secret message, and this is it: Transmeta's policy has been to remain silent about its plans until it had something to demonstrate to the world. On January 19th, 2000, Transmeta is going to announce and demonstrate what Crusoe processors can do. Simultaneously, all of the details will go up on this Web site for everyone on the Internet to see. Crusoe will be cool hardware and software for mobile applications. Crusoe will be unconventional, which is why we wanted to let you know in advance to come look at the entire Web site in January, so that you can get the full story and have access to all of the real details as soon as they are available.--->

The company was largely successful in hiding its ambitions until the official announcement. Over 2000 NDAs were signed during the stealth period [7]. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also called a confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), confidentiality agreement or secrecy agreement, is a legal contract between at least two parties which outlines confidential materials or knowledge the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict from generalized use. ...


Lawsuit against Intel Corporation

On October 11 2006, Transmeta announced that they have filed a lawsuit against Intel Corporation for infringement of ten Transmeta U.S. patents covering computer architecture and power efficiency technologies. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC, SEHK: 4335), founded in 1968 as Integrated Electronics Corporation, is an American multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ...


The complaint charges that Intel has infringed and is infringing Transmeta's patents by making and selling a variety of microprocessor products including at least Intel's Pentium III, Pentium 4, Pentium M, Core and Core 2 product line.


See also

Crusoe is a family of x86-compatible microprocessors from Transmeta. ... The Transmeta Efficeon processor is their second-generation 256-bit VLIW design which employs a software engine to convert code written for x86 processors to the native instruction set of the chip. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Transmeta - definition of Transmeta in Encyclopedia (422 words)
Transmeta has employed a number of industry luminaries such as Dave Ditzel, Linus Torvalds and Dave Taylor.
Initially, its purpose was kept secret, but partially because it had such talent amongst its staff, the industry was constantly abuzz with rumors in addition to 'conspiracy theories' resulting in excellent press relations (PR).
Linus Torvalds has by now left Transmeta to dedicate himself to the further development of the Linux kernel.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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