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Transmeta Technology

Where is Transmeta Heading? 192

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the change-of-plans dept.
Autoversicherung writes "Transmeta, once the darling of Silicon Valley, employer of Linus Torvalds and heralded as the new Intel is facing bleak times. Having $53.7 million in cash and short-term investments in its coffers, enough for just under two quarter's worth of operations and a reported net loss of $28.1 million and revenues of $11.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2004 the company's future is everything but certain. Will the planned restructuring to a pure IP company help?"
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Where is Transmeta Heading?

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  • Willies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shirai (42309) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:01PM (#12120210) Homepage
    Quote: Will the planned restructuring to a pure IP company help?

    Does anybody else get the willies (shades of SCO) just hearing this? Okay, I admit it's a little knee-jerk but how many successful, in the contributes to society domain, strictly IP companies are there?
  • Patent hoarding... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by John Seminal (698722) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:12PM (#12120274) Journal
    I wonder if it is time to re-write the patent laws, so the original inventor gets credit, but everyone else is not screwed. What is the law now, that a person with a patent gets to enjoy the benifits of that patent for life? Maybe the way to go would be to have patents be protected for 4 years, then fall in the public domain. It would certainly solve the problem of patents being sold, and a company hoarding them. Patents will encourage monopolies, when the essance of the paw is to break them up. If only company "A" can use process "X" to make product "Z", then unless someone else can think of a new process, only one company can make that product. This gets very dangerous when we think of medical products. Do we really want only one company making medicines for a specific disease because they patented a gene sequence?
  • Re:not another one (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lisandro (799651) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:17PM (#12120298)
    I think it refers to pulling out [nwfusion.com] an ARM [arm.com]: designing processor cores and licencing them to be manufactured by third parties (or licencing parts of the technology used).

    It could work if they do it right: Transmeta has a bunch of CPUs with very interesting technology and low consumption, which are in high demand these days - for embeeded systems mainly.
  • by crucini (98210) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:24PM (#12120319)
    It would be amusing to see a few heads exploding around here as people see Linus working for a "pure-IP" company. Of course there's no real contradiction - Linus believes in IP.

    I think a lot of slashdotters haven't faced up to the fact that IP makes the tech industry possible.
  • Look at MIPS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OwenMarshall (779270) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:25PM (#12120324) Journal
    The problem with existing as a pure IP company that used to produce semiconductors... well, does it really work?

    One of the first examples I thought of was MIPS Technologies. MIPS processors have seen widespread adoption, and exist everywhere. SGI bought the company in the late 80's/early 90's to keep the processors vital to their systems.

    They existed for a while as a purely IP company -- they licensed the core designs to companies like Toshiba and NEC, who actually made the cores.

    "Fully half of MIPS' income today comes from licensing their designs, while much of the rest comes from contract design work on cores that will then be produced by 3rd parties." (Wikipedia [wikipedia.org])

    Now, MIPS Technologies was able to exist as an IP company for two reasons:
    1. SiliconGraphics was pumping in cash to keep them floating and desigining processors for their systems
    2. MIPS processors have become entrenched everywhere -- printers, routers, computers... it was (and is)one of the most widely used embedded processors.

    Transmeta will exist without a large company backing them up. So that means you have to ask if they are as entrenched as MIPS. If they are, they stand a chance.
  • Re:L.T. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmb-d (322230) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:28PM (#12120337) Homepage Journal
    IIRC, the "interesting" thing about the Transmeta chips was that they did a lot of things differently than other chips out there.

    Things such as very low power consumption (important for mobile/embedded computing), cooler operation (same application), and some very nifty things in software (within the chip, not at the OS level), allowing them to run x86 instructions while being a very different architecture underneath.

    It is my understanding that Linus was there because of that last point -- the software.
  • by aldoman (670791) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:28PM (#12120340) Homepage
    I think they mean more selling chip layouts to other companies for manufacture.

    This is going to be a huge industry. If they could produce, say, a 800MHz CPU which ran on 1W or 0.5W of power and had sensible float performance, it could easily sell exceedingly well.

    There must be millions upon millions of devices that require more than just PIC-level performance but low power consumption. Things like digital TV decoders -- the video itself can be decoded with a seperate chip but the amount of interactivity that will be delivered in the future is going to be immense.
  • by lurch_mojoff (867210) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:35PM (#12120367)
    Why is everybody so concerned with Transmeta suing every CPU user or manufacturer in sight? IP companies are not bad by definition. Just the contrary. And SCO is an exception! The first IP company I come up with, Rambus, is not the public enemy you are trying to turn those, who make a living out of intellectual property, into. Maybe not all of their products are as good or as cheap as many would like them to be (including Rambus themselves), but at least the company is not in the business with groundless lawsuits.

    So please, stop bitching over insane snowflake_in_hell possibilities of Transmeta's future and ask yourselves what will you benefit if CPU manufacturers (ie Intel, AMD, IBM) adopt the very good technologies, part of Crusoe and Efficeon processors. (stuff like LongRun [transmeta.com] and LongRun2 [transmeta.com], you know)
  • I keep wondering (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cyfer2000 (548592) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:43PM (#12120403) Journal

    If Transmeta treated java P-code equally as x86 machine code, or even PHP & Perl source code, what will happen?

    Can an Oracle database performce very quick query on a Transmeta cPU?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2005 @02:22PM (#12120537)
    The biggest disappointment came from the rumors that their "code morphing" would permit them to run both x86 and PPC binaries at reasonable speeds.

    Developing a core that could be programmed translate x86 instructions into an internal format wasn't very impressive, because that's basically where the x86 has been going since the Pentium Pro. Since the translation code for other processors never materialized and the x86 performance was poor, there was no long-term advantage over Intel and AMD, which left Transmeta selling expensive parts that now can't compete with the Pentium M.

    If the promise of being able to run both Windows and Mac software at decent-performance had been realized, then they would have had an interesting market position. Unfortunately I don't think those rumors ever had a basis in reality, and Transmeta simply enjoyed riding them through gobs of financing.
  • Good riddance (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2005 @11:33PM (#12123993)
    It couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of guys. Transmeta were miserable to work with. They spent so much time worrying about their 'code morphing' IP that it never occurred to them they might want to sell chips, which might require being just a tad more open.

    I've talked to vendors who committed to the chips, only to find out they couldn't get docs ... the old "Core IP" excuse. One vendor had boards built and ready to go before they found out Transmeta wouldn't give them chipset info for the Efficeon (which they were using) but only for the older chips! This after Transmeta promised to provide the info.

    I remember trying to buy a development board. I had to get some kind of license # from transmeta before I could buy the board, and had to sign a click-wrap license stating that transmeta owned code morphing IP. I stopped right there.

    Transmeta always had the option to open up "the architecture under the architecture" but would not take it -- would rather die, I guess, than take it.

    Good riddance. It's a good object lesson for companies that try to hide details from their OEM customers.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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