szczys writes: Higher performance, lower power. One of the challenges with hitting both of those benchmarks is the need to adhere to established instruction sets like x86. One interesting development is the use of Variable Instruction Sets at the silicon level. The basic concept of translating established instructions to something more efficient for the specific architecture isn't new; this is what yielded the first low-power x86 processors at the beginning of the century. But those relied on the translation at the software level. A company called Soft Machine is paving the way for variable instructions in hardware. Think of it as an emulator for ARM, x86, and other architectures that is running on silicon for fast execution while sipping very little power.
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MojoKid (1002251) writes Ever since Nvidia unveiled its 64-bit Project Denver CPU at CES last year, there's been discussion over what the core might be and what kind of performance it would offer. Visibly, the chip is huge, more than 2x the size of the Cortex-A15 that powers the 32-bit version of Tegra K1. Now we know a bit more about the core, and it's like nothing you'd expect. It is, however, somewhat similar to the designs we've seen in the past from the vanished CPU manufacturer Transmeta. When it designed Project Denver, Nvidia chose to step away from the out-of-order execution engine that typifies virtually all high-end ARM and x86 processors. In an OoOE design, the CPU itself is responsible for deciding which code should be executed at any given cycle. OoOE chips tend to be much faster than their in-order counterparts, but the additional silicon burns power and takes up die area. What Nvidia has developed is an in-order architecture that relies on a dynamic optimization program (running on one of the two CPUs) to calculate and optimize the most efficient way to execute code. This data is then stored inside a special 128MB buffer of main memory. The advantage of decoding and storing the most optimized execution method is that the chip doesn't have to decode the data again; it can simply grab that information from memory. Furthermore, this kind of approach may pay dividends on tablets, where users tend to use a small subset of applications. Once Denver sees you run Facebook or Candy Crush a few times, it's got the code optimized and waiting. There's no need to keep decoding it for execution over and over.
Monday you had a chance to ask Linus Torvalds any question you wanted. We sent him a dozen of the highest rated and below you'll see what he has to say about computers, programming, books, and copyrights. He also talks about what he would have done differently with Linux if he had to do it all over again. Hint: it rhymes with nothing.
jbrodkin writes "Linux and ARM developers have clashed over what's been described as a 'United Nations-level complexity of the forks in the ARM section of the Linux kernel.' Linus Torvalds addressed the issue at LinuxCon this week on the 20th anniversary of Linux, saying the ARM platform has a lot to learn from the PC. While Torvalds noted that 'a lot of people love to hate the PC,' the fact that Intel, AMD, and hardware makers worked on building a common infrastructure 'made it very efficient and easy to support.' ARM, on the other hand, 'is missing it completely,' Torvalds said. 'ARM is this hodgepodge of five or six major companies and tens of minor companies making random pieces of hardware, and it looks like they're taking hardware and throwing it at a wall and seeing where it sticks, and making a chip out of what's stuck on the wall.'"
The NY Times has a Bits Blog piece speculating on some of the fallout if the FTC prevails in its anti-competition lawsuit against Intel. The Times picks out two among the 26 remedies proposed by the regulator, and concludes that they add up to Nvidia being able to license x86 technology. This could open up 3-way competition in the market for combined CPU-graphics chips. There is a good deal of circumstantial evidence pointing to the possibility that Nvidia has been working on x86 technology since 2007, including the presence on its employment rolls of more than 70 former Transmeta workers.
desmondhaynes sends along a posting from the TechWatch blog detailing the sale of Transmeta (most recently discussed here). Linus moved ten time-zones west, from Finland to Santa Clara, CA, to join Transmeta in March 1997, before this community existed. Here is our discussion of the announcement of the Crusoe processor from 2000. Our earliest discussion of Transmeta was the 13th Slashdot story. "Transmeta, once a sparkling startup that set out to beat Intel and AMD in mobile computing, announced that it will be acquired by Novafora. The company's most famous employee, Linux inventor Linus Torvalds, kept the buzz and rumor mill about the company throughout its stealth phase alive and guaranteed a flashy technology announcement in early 2000. Almost nine years later Transmeta's journey is over." Update: 11/21 16:25 GMT by KD : It's not the 13th Slashdot story, only the 13th currently in the database. We lost the first 4 months at one point.
arcticstoat writes "After giving up on the CPU manufacturing business in 2005, low-power CPU designer Transmeta has announced that it's up for sale. In a statement, the processor company that brought us the mobile Crusoe and Efficeon series of CPUs said that it has 'initiated a process to seek a potential sale of the Company.' The announcement came straight after Transmeta reached a legal agreement with Intel over Transmeta's intellectual property and patents, which includes Intel making a one-off payment of $91.5 million US to Transmeta before the end of this month, as well as annual payments of $20 million US every year from 2009 through 2013."
parvenu74 writes "A story from Infoworld is suggesting that the days of Windows are numbered and that Microsoft is preparing a web-based operating system code-named Midori as a successor. Midori is reported to be an offshoot of Microsoft Research's Singularity OS, an all-managed code microkernel OS which leverages a technology called software isolated processes (SIPs) to overcome the traditional inter-thread communications issues of microkernel OSes."
trouserless writes with the news that AMD has invested heavily in Transmeta. The power-conscious chip company has been financially ailing of late. AMD is taking payment in stock, binding the two companies (both with suits pending against Intel) together. PC World reports: "Transmeta did secure a few licensing deals, notably in Japan, but it also wracked up heavy losses. In January 2005 the vendor announced job cuts and said it would switch its focus to licensing its power management technology to other companies. Later that year Transmeta agreed to sell its Crusoe chips to Hong Kong company Culturecom Technology Ltd. for $15 million in cash. Last year's deal with AMD, to resell Transmeta chips in Microsoft Corp.'s pay-by-installment PC initiative, raised the vendor's prospects again. But in March Transmeta said it faced delisting from the Nasdaq because its stock price fell below $1 for more than 30 consecutive days."
Roland Piquepaille writes "We all want smaller and faster computers. Of course, this increases the complexity of the work of computer designers. But now, computer scientists from the University of Virginia are coming with a radical new idea which may revolutionize computer design. They've developed Tortola, a virtual interface that enables hardware and software to communicate and to solve problems together. This approach can be applied to get a better performance from a specific system. It also can be used in the areas of security or power consumption. And it soon could be commercialized with the help of IBM and Intel."
An anonymous reader writes "After being sued by Transmeta for patent infringement last year, the fangs are out at Intel. In a suit filed in Delaware, Intel claims Transmeta has infringed on 7 of its patents. The whole saga revolves around chips designed to be energy efficient."
Cr0w T. Trollbot writes "Today Transmeta filed suit against Intel for patent infringement. From the article: 'The suit [...] alleges that Intel infringed upon ten of Transmeta's patents. The patents cover computer architecture and power efficiency technologies.' Transmeta offered a low-power x86 processor until last year which used Transmeta's vaunted 'code morphing' software."
InfoWorldMike writes "InfoWorld.com reports that AMD will resell Transmeta's chip for Microsoft's pay-as-you-go PCs. Transmeta said that they had struck an exclusive arrangement for AMD to brand the specialized Efficeon chip under their own name and resell it worldwide. AMD plans to use Microsoft FlexGo and its Efficeon deal with Transmeta as part of its 50X15 initiative, which aims to build a global network of partners and business models to help connect 50 percent of the world's population to the Internet by 2015." From the article "For the first time, Transmeta and the Efficeon technology will have the brand and power and reach of AMD," said Art Swift, president and chief executive officer of Transmeta. "[Our goal is] to reach as many consumers in the world as possible in emerging markets."
Ashutosh Lotlikar wrote to mention an article on the Business 2.0 site stating that chip producer Transmeta is going out of business. From the article: "The company's Crusoe family of microprocessors promised lower power consumption and heat generation, enabling the creation of laptops with longer battery life. Critics bashed the chips for being underpowered compared with Intel's latest and greatest. Transmeta struggled to find a market, and recently it sold off most of its chipmaking business for $15 million to Culturecom Holdings, a Hong Kong company better known for publishing comic books."
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?"
An anonymous reader writes "According to an article at LinuxDevices there's a new fanless digital entertainment center reference design based on Linux and the MythTV open source DVR (digital video recorder) software. The 'Royal Linux Media Center' runs ESG's Royal Linux OS on a Transmeta development board based on its Efficeon chip. Linux has been increasingly popular in DVRs and PVRs, with examples including TiVo (of course), HP's recently unveiled Linux media hub, i3's Mood box, Interact-TV's Telly, Siemens' Speedstream, VWB's MediaReady 4000, Amino's AmiNet500, Sharp's Galileo, Dream-Multimedia-Tv's Dreambox, NEC's AX10, and Sony's CoCoon, to name a few."
chill writes "C-Net is reporting that CPU upstart Transmeta, once the employer of Linus Torvalds and maker of 'Code Morphing' processors, is contemplating leaving the chip manufacturing business. Already their IP licensing revenue exceeds that of their microprocessor sales, though both are dwarfed by their recurring quarterly losses."