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Intel Slashes Prices On Mobile Chips 107

pb writes "Infoworld reports that Intel is slashing prices on its mobile chips. Gee, this wouldn't have anything to do with Transmeta, would it?"
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Intel Slashes Prices On Mobile Chips

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  • are these chips genuinely in the same market?

    transmeta is more for devices, is it not? whereas Intel's processors are more for laptops? or am I off here?
  • Since Transmeta isn't yet being used in any laptops, but AMD is, I think AMD needs to take the blame. Of course when Transmeta's chips start to get used I expect to see some Transmeta caused price cuts.

  • There are absolutely no comments whatsoever about the Crusoe in the Infoworld article.

    Why is that?

    This story seems to take Intel's side a little too much. Don't tell them about the *cheaper* alternative that uses less power and emits less heat than AMD and Intel differentiated. :)

    Just wondering...
  • i dont think so, intel is releasing some new chips soon (i think) so they usually lower prices first also i am concerned that transmeta chips wont scale proply, does anyone know if they are working on faster chips >700mhz?
  • Crusoe and Intel does compete in the laptop arena, assuming Transmeta gets one or more of the big laptop makers to use their chips.

    The problem they face have been discussed for a few days in news:comp.arch, basically that the cpu power usage isn't really a dominating part of the total for a laptop: Disk, DVD, LCD, 3D etc are all power hogs as well, so you'll need to improve those other parts as well.

    What will be really interesting, is to do some micro-benchmarks to figure out how much of the speed they get that is directly related to the Code Morpher rewriting/optimizing the x86 code, and how much is handled directly by the initial interpreter/fast compiler.

  • The markets overlap a lot. If the Crusoe can do x86 at a decent speed, why can't we put it on desktops? The power savings can be huge!
  • If you could have the equivalent to a 500 MHz Pentium II in your laptop, but have it run for 5x as long, why wouldn't you? The Crusoe is a viable alternative to anything that is using Intel and could possibly benefit from lower power usage,


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • While we were listening to the Transmeta press conference here at the office the other day, a collegue of mine made a comment about this. Intel has the ability to cut prices and cut below transmeta prices. Sadly enough this will determine wether or not a new chip company can succeed. Can ANY new company succeed with this type of threat?
  • by funkman ( 13736 ) on Monday January 24, 2000 @05:01AM (#1344165)
    A few times each year, Intel and AMD announce price cuts. This is typical marketing for both companies. They announce price cuts on all but their highest speed/most expensive processors. This is not news, just the typical PR we see every few months.
  • Intel have a huge market share across *all* sectors of the processor market. There have been signs of the Goths knocking at the door for some time. They have fallen out (a bit) with Microsoft by endorsing Linux, and AMD stole a march on them with the Athlon. Perhaps they are now going the way of all great empires, being out-evolved and out manoevered by creatures which are smaller, faster and more relevant to today and the future. Like Transmeta, like AMD, like VIA (and friends). Or maybe not.
  • In the article it states that the prices took effect on January 16th. Unless they were able to break the security and secrecy of Transmeta, I don't think they knew. I'm sure some of you will argue that this was Intel getting ready for Transmeta, but I don't think they are too worried yet. I'm sure that AMD gives them a bigger scare.

    Steven Rostedt
  • Transmeta's new chips could be put to use for a vast range of "applications" (no pun intended.)

    I feel it's a good move by Intel to lower chip cost at this time, with new announcements from AMD and IDT coming this year. They're just trying to remain competitive.

    It remains to be seen exactly how versatile Transmeta can be with their product; I don't think there is anything holding them back from becoming an excellent desktop cpu, as well as being used in the mobile arena.

    What I'm particularily looking forward to are more annoucements from Be Inc., regarding their R5 release. But, that's off-topic, so I'll refrain.

    Looking at both companies in direct comparison, we see that they can provide a user experience on both the desktop and mobile platforms. I see no reason to believe that Intel is going to sit back and let Transmeta come into the market, without at least a little bit of active prodding.

    That I can understand. What I don't wish to see is Intel using it's clout to completely push and smother Transmeta into a corner, or out of the picture entirely.

    We need competition.

    Hope this clears things up a bit.

    -Chris Simmons The Optical Valley Project []

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday January 24, 2000 @05:09AM (#1344170) Journal
    Why can't we put this on desktops?

    Simply put, the Crusoes are designed for Laptops and below. This means they don't have the best IO architecture in the world, especially in the x86 world. They can handle laptop IO, and the incorporated NorthBridge supports PCI, SDRAM, DDRSDRAM etc, but no AGP support, no I2O etc. It might be possible to add an external chip to support these though.

    Transmeta have created the high-end of Code Morphing processors. Having proved they work quite well, they can now concentrate on putting more of the software in silicon - e.g., better IO handling, AGP, More functional units etc, and in a year or so you can expect fast desktop Transmeta CPUs (not Crusoes though!). The Transmeta is good at running a limited number of programs at once - any more and the translation cache will keep on filling up and you will be accessing main memory more and more, which is bad - so fine for PDAs and Laptops, but bad for desktops where having 50-100 different processes running is common.

    Expect a desktop Transmeta to include at least 1Mb of on-board cache as well as even more powerful silicon and software.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well...that is a good start. I keep waiting for laptops to start whoreing themselves out like desktops and this is a good start. Why can't I get a decent laptop for under a grand ????? It doesn't have to be a PIII screamer. I would be happy with a PII 300 - 400 with 64 megs of ram, 4 gig hd, cd..etc..

    You can get an average PC for under $800...why not an average laptop for under a grand.

    The thing that cranks me is that they stop selling the older chips when the new faster ones come out. Why not sell a laptop, cheap, with an older slower chip... I know it's all about making money.. but it still hacks me off.
  • by LinuxParanoid ( 64467 ) on Monday January 24, 2000 @05:19AM (#1344173) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps Transmeta is an issue, but believe me, these price cuts have been in the works for a while and were planned to happen when Intel introduced it's SpeedStep technology. Intel always cuts prices on old stuff around the time it intros new stuff.

    It does look like Transmeta found out the SpeedStep announcement date and scheduled their event the day before to preempt coverage of SpeedStep. That worked quite well, IMHO.


  • Up to this point no intel OEM customer has announced plans to use transmeta chips (other then SIII, who are not a intel mobile customer anyway). The lack of Customer announcements at transmeta's unvailing seemed very wierd and the argument that Transmeta gave was lame, in my view "we wanted to announce the chip first.." jeez, that's not the way things are done in this market, you have to announce support of third parties when introducing a chip, otherwize the technical press and the rest will think that something is wrong. And they do. hence the "S3 saves transmeta" headline I saw (don't remember if it was ZDnet or

    Transmeta is herting intel in one of it's most lucrative markets, Intel makes a lot of profit on each mobile product, you can bet that it's going to fight back. How ethical that fight is going to be? hmmm..

    This all may seem paranoid to you guys, so let's say it all together...

    "only the paranoid survive"

    It seems that it is possible that intel is pushing behind the scenes to influence other companies not to unvail transmeta based products, this is not something that hasn't happened before in this industry, so I guess it could be happening now. But maybe it isn't.

    Intel was well aware of transmeta's plans for some time (hence the unvailing of powerstep PIII mobiles a day before the transmeta anouncement),
  • Considering the amount of free publicity transmeta got for free the last couple of days, a alot of people will use the word Crusoe and cutting-edge-technology in the same sentence alot next couple of months.

    I can't think of a single newspaper I've read the last couple of days which did not have at least one article about Linus, Transmeta and the revolution of the processor industry. But, then again, I am a nerd and don't read alot of non-nerd-material.

  • From the article:

    In an unusually deep round of cuts, the chip vendor slashed the price of its 500-MHz Mobile Pentium III processor by 54 percent, from $530 to $245, according to information on Intel's Web site. Prices of 450-MHz and 400-MHz versions of the chip also fell sharply, by as much as 46 percent.

    And later on...

    The price cuts could translate into savings of as much as $100 on the price of a typical Pentium III notebook PC, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Celeron notebook prices may also come down slightly, though probably not by as much.

    Can anybody explain me how by cutting the price on a component by $200 the price of the whole goes down by $100?

  • Nevermind the fact that you need a new version of Windows and Linux...

    Okay, maybe I'm showing ignorance here, but as far as I understood the Transmeta releases and the reviews, you would not need a new Windows/Linux version, since to the software, the transmate chip looks just the same as theIntel x86 it xpects to be running on?

  • This is why competition is a good thing :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You're wrong. Or misinformed. Or both.

    TM3210 chips are in production as we speak.

    Yes, Intel could slash prices a day before Crusoe, but would it matter at all? (maybe they would lose some money, but thats all).

    You do not need a new version of Windows or Linux.

    And obviously you don't know a lot about cache, do you? (hint: cache ram).

    Crusoe is an emulator on steroids :-)

  • Good point, but these price cuts were huge. 54% off the mobile PIII 500, for example, is a massive loss in revenue for Intel. I'm surprised that they went this far. I think that this is more than just PR... does anyone know of any other up-and-coming possible competitors to Intel and AMD besides Transmeta?
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Monday January 24, 2000 @05:36AM (#1344182)
    Intel has the ability to cut prices and cut below transmeta prices. Sadly enough this will determine wether or not a new chip company can succeed. Can ANY new company succeed with this type of threat?

    Perhaps they can cut their prices easily, but it will be harder for them to make the chips run cooler. These price cuts probably have more to do with AMD - K6's are killing intel in the mobile market.

    Note that Intel is now under attack in *all* their major market segments, so this limits their ability to undercut in one market while making up for it with extra-high prices in another market.
  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Monday January 24, 2000 @05:40AM (#1344184) Homepage

    I think you are thinking in 3 year old categories. Namely:

    Typical desktop disk consumption at the moment is under 20 watt (for laptops there are some as low as 2.5 watt). For example desktop 3.5 inch IBM 4.3GB SCSI-II manufactured last year is 330 mA from 5V and 200 mA from 12V. This is 1.65 + 2.4 W = 4.05 W MAX.

    CDROMs and DVDs are still a power hog but they hardly go over 20-30 watt. For a 40 speed SCSI-II Toshiba it is (unsure here ;-) under 20.

    LCD is also somewhere there (20-30 at most) as well.

    Video is under 5 watt.

    The biggest hogs at the moment are CPU. If intel it can go above 100watt + 3W fan and sound which can also be over 50 watt in some configurations. Thus, a transmeta chip will drop your average power consumption on a computer that does not have its speakers blasted 100% by 50%.

    This will result in either weight decrease by as much as 30-40% or battery life increase by as much as 50%.

    I would bet on the weight decrease. Because less batteries means not only less weight. It means as much as 20-50 dollars off the price (NiMH are bloody expensive).

    Overall this price decrease barely compensates for the manufacturers price decrease due to less battery expenses. If intel wants to beat transmeta fairly they have to drop by further 20-30$. This drop will be enough to start FUD wars though because very few people remember to calculate the weight and the battery pricing in laptop comparisons.

  • You can get an average PC for under $800...why not an average laptop for under a grand.

    Are you that dense?
    • TFT screens are EXPEN$IVE
    • tiny HDDs are EXPEN$IVE
    • cases are costly to create (big tooling charges in excess of $10k) so you have to sell a whole lot of laptops to bring this down
    • Heat considerations affect the design, making it costlier
    • custom motherboards
    • Li-ion batteries aren't cheap

    In short, the sheer volume of standard PC components outnumbers the volume of laptop components so they are far cheaper to buy in consumer quantities. Until everyone buys laptops and not PCs, this won't change.
  • by eshefer ( 12336 )
    transmeta chips are alwredy in production at IBM fabs. This is scaring intel more then AMD. Amd has limited production capabilities and have a history of fabrication yield problems, that they are only now STARTING to come out from. IBM basicly has almost unlimited fabrication resources relative to AMD.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can anybody explain me how by cutting the price on a component by $200 the price of the whole goes down by $100?

    You're onto something here - they must only use half a processor per laptop! We're being ripped off!

  • that was an obvious troll, Jesus moderators are stupid.
  • Yeah, that's what I was thinking, too. Actually, what struck me was the $96 figure cropping up again for the Celerons--I believe that's the same price Transmeta was quoted at for one of their chips too.

    And I thought it was really suspicious that no one mentioned Transmeta right after their huge announcement about mobile computing, being a competitor in the laptop market, etc., etc.

    ...and I never got a story posted before. Gee. :)
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • Andy Groves motto "Only The Paranoid Survive"

    Do you really think that one of the richest corporations in the world does not spend a lot of time and money finding out what each and everyone of their potential rivals are up to.

    Transmeta are either incredible genius's or Intel's intel is completely useless if Intel did not have a pretty good idea of what was being planned.

    For all of that, its probably to do with AMD who are getting all the press and quite a few of the sales lately.

    Transmeta will get theirs later. I hope their tech is as good as it seems, and that they can continually improve it.

    I DO like an ecology. Monoculture is just so boring and inefficient.

  • There are benchmarsk on Transmeta site. They are typical task benchmarks, not plain CPU blast and according to them the smaller of two chips is somewhere around 0.8 - 0.9 Pentium III 500 and the bigger one (due midyear) is equivalent or better.

    Have a look at them []
  • Maybe it's because the laptop-manufacturers like to earn a little more ??? _> Some people are dumb ... huh-huh.
  • But now we see mobile 600MHz and 650MHz chips for the mobile market. The 500 MHz PIII chips that are in production now have all of the glitches out of the manufacturing process so they may create chips at a lower price.
  • Transmeta still has (technologically) the big advantage in mobile computing because of the extremely low power draw of its chips. No one would use a celeron in a web pad or palm-type device when they can use a Crusoe that draws a fraction of the power. (Yes, I know Transmeta claims not to be going after palmtops and cell phones right now, but who knows they may just have to take what they can get.)
  • This won't be the case for Transmeta's Crusoe, if Intel can't field a mobile chip that will last 4-9 hours on a single battery charge, Transmeta will have their Lunch and Martini too. The price won't matter.

    This is a clear case of a distruptive technology changing the marketplace in laptops and mobile devices. Intel's lost this market if Transmeta can ramp up manufacturing. IBM's going to make them, and they didn't say exactly who they were dealing with in Taiwan, did they? (Might be more fabs overseas cranking theses baby's out.)

    I was going to get a Sony VAIO a while back, but I was waiting to see what Transmeta was going to do. Now I'm waiting for Crusoe based products instead of Intel based products because I really want that battery life.
    computers://use.urls. People use Networds.

  • Although Transmeta may have peaked their interest, I thin, they're far more worried about AMD.

    If the desktop processor market is a fair indicator, AMD is undercutting Intel quite severely on price. I checked the Athlon 600 vs. P3 600 and Athlon is only about 2/3 the price ($216 vs $339 for the PIII on Pricewatch).

    Intel is losing ground with the recent announcements of HP and Gateway to use the Athlon chip. It makes lots of sense that Intel would move to strengthen their market share in the mobile market where AMD has yet to produce a chip to comnpare with the mobile P3's (the mobile K6's may have nice high MHz numbers but performance does lag).

    Could just be the regular price reductions though.

  • what happens if your computer runs out of disk space for the Crusue recompiled x86 code cache - you can't run any programs?

    The Crusoe processor doesn't use the hard disk for its translated code cache.

    From The Technology Behind the Cruesoe Processors []:
    The translation cache, along with the Code Morphing code, resides in a separate memory space that is inaccessible to x86 code.
    It simply doesn't make sense to use the hard disk for the translation cache. Consider:
    • RAM access times are measured in nanoseconds and hard disks measured in milliseconds. It's magnitudes faster to simply re-morph code on the fly than use a disk based translation cache.
    • The Crusoe is designed to be embeddable in systems which don't even have hard disks (i.e. set-top boxes, Webpads, etc).
    • To maintain a hard-disk based code cache, the Crusoe would need to work with SCSI and IDE drives and understand partition tables and filesystems. Why build this complexity in at the CPU level, especially when you're aiming for a simple power-saving design?
  • Transmeta announced the unveiling date back at fall comdex( november). Linus announced it during his keynote.

    One thing I have learned after 12+years in this business is that Intel never drops prices just to be friendly. They (intel) only drop prices when shifting products or when someone actually comes up with a competing product. That meant many fewer price reductions in years past. Many more cuts in '99. With AMD finally getting a (kickass) product launched with volume production, they scared the crap out of intel. Then consider the i820 fiasco and you can see intel executives peeing their expensive suits at their predicament. Now they are being seriously threatened by Transmeta on the low end where most of the significant processor growth is expected for the next 5-10 years. I think the SpeedStep introduction was a factor, but I also think the price drop was a bit steep to be just an internal response and making room in their product line.
  • Yeah. Essentially if Intel tries to undercut Transmeta, all Transmeta has to do is market their chip to an even smaller application. The Transmeta chip really does have a competetive advantage: it's much cooler. All Transmeta has to do is find the market that Intel can't support in the first place.

    Incidently, just because a large behemoth of a company _can_ do something monopolistic doesn't mean it will do it well. Look at the bumbling antics of microsoft against perceived future threats. And Transmeta is a very real threat against Intel in the present!


  • I am for real, but then again, what is real?

    I'm just saying that I'm not sure that Intel is worried about Transmeta yet! The chip market is one of the most competetive markets out there. It's not easy to survive. AMD has become quite popular lately and I'm sure that Intel is more concerned about them then they are about Transmeta. Right now Transmetas chip has just come out, but it has yet to really prove itself in the market. I'm not talking about OEMs selling them, I'm talking about people buying products with them. Although one does lead to the other.

    I'm sure Intel is concerned with Transmeta, but I'm sure that they are concerned with the bigger fish in the sea. And yes, Transmeta will probably grow to be one of those fish too. The point I'm trying to make is that this anouncement is not a direct result of Transmeta. It just makes it a more convenient time.

    Steven Rostedt
  • Insightful comments removed

    This is insightful dammit! Not informative! We all know Intel does this. There's no need to "inform" us about Intel's market strategies. On the other hand, not everyone realizes Intel will do this again! That's insight, not information.

    From wordnet:

    informative: 1: tending to increase knowledge or dissipate ignorance; 2: serving to instruct of enlighten or inform; 3: providing or conveying information
    insightful: exhibiting insight or clear and deep perception

    If you were on crack when you moderated that comment as informative, please stop using it, it's making your brain melt. If you were not on crack, please get some, your brain can use the melting.

    Why do I complain? Because sometimes I'm not in the mood of reading insightful comments, but I'd like to have some extra information, or viceversa... someone's sig reads "my threshold is set at 2, post accordingly". I'd go a bit further and say "my threshold is nil, moderate accordingly"

    Thanks. (and I hope you don't waste moderation points marking this as off-topic, go find some insightful comment and mark it so!

  • With the proper code, can the Crusoe processors be used in multi-processor configurations? I don't see why not. If it is possible and the chips themselves are cheap enough, Transmeta can seriously impact the desktop market.
  • Fair enough. Transmeta's pricing was pretty aggressive for notebook-oriented parts.

  • I'm more curious to know if you could hack GCC up to emit code in the Cruso's native language, saving the chip the trouble of having to do the code translation. I wonder if that would result in a performance increase. I could see a dist of Linux that is mostly Cruso native but which can fall back to X86 mode as needed to run proprietary apps (Like Lokisoft games.)

    I'm also wondering where I can get a Cruso motherboard...

    Oh, and rumor has it that AMD has a 64 bit chip in planning that will compete directly with the Itanium. It has been speculated that Transmeta is also planning to do something in that arena as well.

    They must be sweating bullets over at Intel.

  • by Zico ( 14255 ) on Monday January 24, 2000 @07:34AM (#1344211)

    That's because despite all the yipping and wishful thinking by the Linus Torvalds fanboys here, Intel's move has absoutely nothing whatsoever to do with Transmeta. Ever heard of AMD, which has been putting a hurting on Intel lately?


  • A number of arguments [] against running on the bare Crusoe metal have been given in the past, so I won't bore anyone with the details. Suffice to say that running like this may very well decrease performance due to the nature of the translation layer. Furthermore, the flexibility code morphing gives Transmeta greatly outweighs, I think, any small performance improvement that might result from eliminating it.

    As far as AMD's 64-bit chip is concerned, it's not clear to me which form it will take. But they may be too late. Unless it is 100% IA64 compatible, they're going to have a hard time convincing Microsoft, et. al. to port their software and operating systems. And yes, of course Linux will run on it. But will RedHat make a distribution?

    I think Intel is sweating over two things: Transmeta's low power and Sony's Emotion Engine. I have nothing with which to back this up save a few rumors and scuttlebutt, however.


  • Hell, I wrote the article and I agree with you. I htink people don't have a clear enough definition of what the difference is between insightful and informative or troll and flamebait. I honestly figured it would get moderated as redundant since most people know this about Intel.

    I agree that someone should moderate your post up as well.
  • this is also exactly the kind of thing which is an illegal monopolisitic practice. Intel will have to watch themselves or end up like Microsoft =)

  • This cracked me up.

  • yes, crusoe is designed for smaller applications, but its software roots allow for a far greater degree of flexibility. Transmeta can swap in and out hardware and software as it sees fit.

    the reason they're going after mobile apps is because a) that's where the future of the market is, b) because it's where Intel is weakest, and c) the desktop and server markets are a major bitch.

    With smaller applications quickly taking the forefront, the introduction of an x86 compatible low-power processor is as much a positive shock on the market as the zip drive was.

    I bet they probably will move into larger apps, but after Intel and AMD have kicked the crap out of each other and after IA-64 secures it's status as a major flop.
  • How is lowering your prices below your competitor's illegal? Intel (for the most part) isn't pressuring anyone. Aren't they bound to lower their prices to compete in a capitalist system? Aren't lower prices good for consumers?

    The problem with Microsoft is that they were using anti-competitive tactics, like forcing OEM's to use exclusively MS products, and the whole browser integration thing.

    Brandon Brandon
  • Anyone care to point out the difference for us newbies who get moderation points?
  • Actually, SpeedStep was announced on the 18th, the day prior to the Transmeta announcement. ( ive/january00/01182000.phtml [])
  • For me personally, I consider a troll stuff along the lines of petrified natalie portman with lacey chabert in peanut butter and a small chihuahua type stuff. They're trolling for people to give them a reply. Hence the phrase do not feed the trolls. Flamebait on the otherhand is someone who is stating FUD here and there or saying stuff like Jon Katz is a pedophile. Or attacking someone's person.
    Make sense?
  • Their stock is overvalued, and they have to keep their earnings up. If they cut prices, they cut earnings, and, they cut their stock price.

    If not Transmeta, then it will be AMD that does Intel in. And if Transmeta can do just 10% better than AMD, businesswise, they should have a very bright future ahead of them.
  • Cause he's right... nobody reads around here do they? sheesh...
  • i'd take a low power transmeta over a high power intel in my laptop any day - that includes the TMS3120. Fact is - laptop battery counts more than high speed ultra powerful processing power any day. if i can play mp3's or play videos, do a little office work, compile a kernel or two for 6hrs/day - thats plenty. its a lot less than i get with a intel laptop anyway...faster CPU or no faster CPU.
  • How is lowering your prices below your competitor's illegal? Intel (for the most part) isn't pressuring anyone. Aren't they bound to lower their prices to compete in a capitalist system? Aren't lower prices good for consumers?

    Setting your prices below your competitor's price isn't illegal.

    What's illegal is predatory pricing--when an existing monopoly responds to a new competitor by temporarily setting its prices artificially low, (e.g. below the cost of production).

    In the short term, the monopolist intentionally loses money, but can live off its enormous cash reserves. In the long term, the monopolist would run out of money, but usually the new competitor is forced out, saddled with high R&D expenses and debt. Once the new competitor is gone from the market, the monopolist raises its price back to the original level.
  • The chip (aside from the puny one that competes in the Dragonball space) won't be out until late this year.

    The "puny" chip (known also as the TM3120) is far from it. It is 128 bit, can modify its power consumption better than the dragonball, and has about 350 mhz over the dragonball. It runs x86 and any number of other code sets, and is out now.

    The 700mhz chip (TM5400) is not out yet, but will be mid-2000.
  • Note that Intel is now under attack in *all* their major market segments, so this limits their ability to undercut in one market while making up for it with extra-high prices in another market.

    I believe you are correct, except for one market segment: SMP servers. There are x86 competitors in all of the other areas, but as of yet (IIRC), there are no Athlon SMP boards. The competitors I see in this area are Sun and Compaq/Digital/Alpha, both non-x86.
  • To be factual, the SpeedStep date was moved up ~2 months shortly after Transmeta announced the data of the announcement. This may or may not cooincidence, but lets keep the order of events correct.
  • "Wherever you go, there you are." --Unknown

    That line was from a mid 80's move, "Buckaroo Banzai in the Eigth Dimension". Buckaroo was played by a younger Peter Weller who went on to play RoboCop. It also has one of my favorite Christopher Lloyd characters as an alien that works for YoYoDyn. Watch it if you can.
  • Suffice to say that running like this may very well decrease performance due to the nature of the translation layer. Furthermore, the flexibility code morphing gives Transmeta greatly outweighs, I think, any small performance improvement that might result from eliminating it.

    OK, the translation layer provides advantages, primarily giving TM the right to change the underlying processor hardware without really telling anyone.

    But would there be advantages to using an assembly architecture CLOSER to the TM core? I've seen a number of vague questions in the discussion groups about asking for a Power PC translation layer instead of Intel. This would double the amount of translation layer packages that would need to be written for any new chip, but that would be worth it if PPC provides speed advantages.
    BR> Of course I could be completely off base here. How RISCy is PPC anyhow? And are there structural reasons that TM's ordering and pruning logic might not be as effective for it?
  • , and in a year or so you can expect fast desktop Transmeta CPUs (not Crusoes though!).

    Nifty names? Perhaps something to cybersquat on?

    Friday: Optimized for server Lots of I/O, primitive video and other UI stuff. Power consumption doesn't matter at all. "Crusoe was the most famous person to get everything done by Friday"
    Robinson: Optimized for multiprocessor motherboards for game hackers.
    What would the cute name be for a routine desktop unit based on these names?
  • The InfoWorld article refers to Intel's quarterly price cuts. You will note that computer manufacturers are also announcing lower prices, reflecting the drop in prices. This is nothing new--it happens in the second week of every quarter.

    But since the question has been raised, how concerned is Intel about Transmeta? Probably not that much. Remember that Intel owns the microprocessor business--not just the chips, but also the technology required to make the chips. They have extensive R&D projects with companies like Applied Materials (and a major client of mine) that affect all sorts of things. And remember that Intel is extremely aggressive about protecting its patent rights. Much of Transmeta's press conference palavar about not worrying about Intel and patent issues is so much PR--if IBM is planning on using Intel-developed technology to produce the Transmeta chips you will see mention of a "cross-licensing agreement" in the trade press. (Remember that IBM will actually manufacture the chips for Transmeta.)

    There is another factor to consider: producing cutting edge chips in volume requires massive capital investment. If Transmeta can't sign up a lot of business they may not be able to produce enough chips to bring the unit costs down low enough....

    At the moment Intel is continuing to cruise right along, printing money. AMD? An annoyance. Transmeta? A set of spects and a press conference. Down the road Transmeta might be reason for Indel to be concerned--but a threat? The moo-ha-ha department? No. We're way too early for that.
  • Is the theme to 'Gilligans isle' running through anyone ELSES head right now?
  • But the code only needs to be translated once, and can then be cache-saved to ram or hdd IN the native format, and can even be re-optimised as needed, it can actually get faster and faster every time its run! Anywhooo... Intel chips translate x86 also, into its own risc-like internal code, and it has to do it every time its executed, and since transistors are hardwired, it cant 'learn' as well.
  • Mlinux wasnt created because you NEED it, its simply a value-add for OEM's that want an option of having a ROM based linux distro.
  • Now I know some people get all huffy when the word "Amiga" gets mentioned in an otherwise x86 conversation, but I gotta know... What the heck happened to all those rumors about Transmeta making the new Amiga processor?

    It would be neat, just requires a code moduole, and it could be Classic Amiga downward compatible as well as PPC Amiga compatible. Anyone hear anything about them lately?

    I've gotta say when I see that checkered boing ball in the /. topic bar it really brightens my day.

  • Yes, absolutely a different virtual architecture could help. For one thing, x86 is horribly register limited. The spill code penalty is huge. Crusoe probably does well on x86 because of this. The additional register binding makes up for some of the translation penalty. However, having more registers that the compiler can see lets the compiler generate fewer instructions, reducing the work of the translator. There's a complex set of interactions going on here that is very, very interesting.

    I'd like to see a virtual ISA/ABI that had a sensible function calling convention (i.e. none of this "copy struct pieces into registers and spill them back out" junk) and lots of virtual registers. The translation layer could bind excess registers to stack locations.

    To do this well, you'd like the ISA to support annotations that could direct the translation layer. For one thing, the compiler could target the alias handling code to look at specific load-store pairs that it has a "pretty good" idea about, but can't prove anything for sure.


Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.