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Transmeta

Phoenix BIOS Software Available for Crusoe 230

Titten writes "Computerworld reports that Phoenix BIOS software is available for Crusoe. Phoenix worked in secret with Transmeta for more than two years to prepare its PhoenixBIOS software for use with Transmeta's chips. Here's a release from Phoenix. I guess we'll be seeing computers with the Crusoe chip sometime soon now!"
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Phoenix BIOS Software Available for Crusoe

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  • by nutsy ( 33125 )

    So, I'll be taking the good ol' "wait and see" with the forthcoming Joshua chip. Who's with me?

    Oh, I don't know. If nothing else, there's always the chance that it plays a good game of chess.

  • Its a name. Thats all. You know, not everything in this world is a hip shot at your ancestors. The name was chosen by a marketing research firm to decribe a mobile chip. I highly doubt they were thinking anything derogatory. the name was chosen in good faith, and didnt really deserve that. I sympathise with you, but when people in good faith get called racists it really starts wearing thin.

    As for the confederate flag, I agree with you. The fact that we allow a confederate flag to fly patriotically in this country is sad, its as bad as a nazi flag, which is legal, but SHOULDNT BE CONDONED BY or own friggin government! What other country in this world would let a defeated revolutionary group raise their national flag on national soil? none. Even worse, its part of our OWN government raising it!

    I advise you to choose your battles, Crusoe is a processor, not a bad word. The confederate flag is another issue. Boycotting South Carolina would be justified in my opinion, but boycotting Transmeta would just be malicious, as they have done absolutely nothing to you or anyone else, not even symbolically, and it would dilute perceptions of your cause.

    South Carolina needs to get their Red Necks(tm) out of their asses. (oh shit, here come the tomatoes!)
  • Not for desktop machines my ass. Why do chip manufacturers say this? And why do some of us have ballsy 700mhz Athlons, or dual PIIs, when we were told that kind of setup is "not for desktop machines?"

    Oh yeah, and why is the Debian, Transmeta, and Dreamcast logos all look surprisingly similar? Heheh.. Dreamcast II will probably have a Transmeta processor and be running Debian...
  • >>> I'm sick of this liberal "black people had it good" bullshit. Slavery was oppression, racism is oppression, and "seperate but equal" is oppression. You can't rewrite history in your white, eurocentric view anymore. We won't stand for it. And I sure as hell am not going to stand for Linux Torvalds oppressing black folk with this "Crusoe" bullshit.

    This man has ISSUES.

    I dought Linus gives a shit about racism, I'll bet you money he just thinks about programming and his job. Or it could be a cover up, Linux might just be a way to opress black people, wasnt that in the MAN pages in the latest kernel release?

    Seriously though, want to talk REPRESSION? It seems no one can do a god damned thing without being called a racist anymore. I give absolutely *NO* support for *YOUR* brand of racial sympathy. Its not everyone elses fault you feel your repressed when you're creating this animosity towards those who've done nothing to you. You are a troublemaker and a bigot. 'Linus torvalds oppressing black folk' Now I've heard it all.

  • >>> I can't let this continue. Robinson Crusoe Does not contain the N-word. you were trolled. h4w

    Great, now I'm going to be paranoid about everything I respond to ;)
  • Uh, these are to be consumer devices? What makes you think that consumers are concerned that their BIOS knows what an ethernet card is?

    Both of the major "broadband" netowrking technologies (cable modem / xDSL) offered in the Austin area require the installation of an Ethernet card to connect to service. Granted, broadband isn't all that widespread now (maybe a couple of million subscribers, I think), but Fast Internet is something you can really sell to the average consumer. It's much much cooler than "fast hard drive" and at least as cool as "fast printer."

    Now, what does this have to do with boot code and ethernet? Maybe not a whole lot; but point is that ethernet is probably going to become more standard as time goes on, and I'd certainly like to be able to use it as it's done on most large workstation boxes.

    (On the other hand, there is considerable architectural support needed to get this level or interoperability up and running--most implementations seem to have some sort of imbedded Forth in them and a well-defined interface for storage and network controllers. It may well be "too late," at least for this generation of PC's. Let's face it--the new PC specifications from MS have a lot fo problems, but at least they're an attempt to ditch at least some of the 19-year-old baggage of the PC architecture)

  • Phoenix is definitely not everyone's favourite BIOS company in terms of setting things up and user interface but they are the de-facto standard for the BIOS programming interface.

    If you take any BIOS programming guide you will find mostly two names: Phoenix and IBM. IBM is actually resposnsible mostly for the PS2 additions. Some of them have been adopted, some not.

    So a BIOS design usually looks like - Phoenix starts, defines the interface spec and everyone else follows.

    As a user I dislike phoenix as much as you do if not more, but as a programmer I have to admit that if you want your things to work you have to rely on their docs, standards and implementation. Se la vie...

  • Yes I agree we must allow them some time to let the ball roll so to speak. However, the fact of the matter is that Transmeta does have some good ideas but really no working prototype. I mean where is the laptop that is supposed to be running on this new chip?

    I have to admit though that their marketing strategy is a stroke of genius. Bring in one of the most respected techies in the world (Linus Torvalds) and combine that with a cloke of secrecy for a few years and you have a winner. Or at least a very curious public. I have to admit that the hype may be slightly over-inflated and artificual considering that most of it is riding on Linus's laurels, but only time will tell.

    As mentioned above, Transmeta has some heavy duty backers, so we can expect them to be around for awhile. It never hurts to have "Big Blue" on your side. What will really be interesting is to see how the other chip manufactures like Intel and AMD will respond. It's almost a given that they will try to create a similar product which will directly compete with the Crusoe processor. Essentially, Transmeta will have to either specialize or diversify to keep afloat in the "crazy" computer world. Anyhow it will be interesting...


    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC
    www.npsis.com [npsis.com]
  • It's called OpenFirmware.

    It's actually pretty cool.

  • Im quite fond of award my self.

    Well, as of 1998 AWARD IS PHOENIX. Or a subsidiary of. Go read http://www.award.com/

  • Hell yeah.. my sentaments excatly. If Crusoe is going to be such a good processor, why would they take a step back and use BIOS? Its crap, and even the Open Firmware in my mac (which is kinda buggy) can do more than any implementation of bios I have ever seen. And the Sun and SGI stuff can realy kick some ass. I don't understand Transmeta on this one.


    When was the last time you saw BIOS that you could write programs in (if you know forth), or could connect to the network with? Also in some of the implementations you can even telnet.

    -----
  • > I am quite fond of award myself. Award and Phoenix have merged in september 1998. See http://www.award.com/ That's some work for judge Jackson.
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @10:56AM (#1317693)
    The instruction set is x86, yes.
    The chip is not pin compatable, and requires it's own unique blend of support chips, I would imagine (as any processor does).

    The function of BIOS is like a mini HAL(Hardware Abstraction Layer)to deal with firing up the motherboard components in the right order, setting interrupts, and providing boot code to the CPU. This process is different for every brand of motherboard, and every chip out there. BIOS presents a standard interface to the OS itself.

    Yes, the code morphing software loads before the BIOS. IT has to.. the BIOS is written in x86. But then the BIOS has to take care of the rest of the motherboard.
  • while this may be great for Crusoe - it'll encourage more rapid adoption of their chips.. I can't help but wonder what this will do to Phoenix in the long run. They've basically dropped their pants and mooned Intel in front of the entire industry.. do 'ya think if Crusoe fails they might not be.. umm... irritated?
  • Down with the PC BIOS! Sheesh. We've been stuck with crappy busses, broken PICs, lame DMAs, and hokey BIOS ROMs for the past twenty years! It's time to posthumously get with the nineties! We want programmable PROMs in FORTH! We want 256 interrupts! We want FAST DMA!
    At least we have PCI. That at least doesn't suck.
    --
    I noticed
  • Geez this is the kind of stuff you should EXPECT on slashdot

    Sadly, you're right. This is what I've come expect on Slashdot. Not that I have anything against Mr. Torvalds or the company that he works for, but over-exposure tends to make people sick.

    As it is, I really read Slashdot for the comments (and browse at -1, the sensible way), and the articles themselves are secondary (and yes, I actually *do* following the links and read the articles on stories that I post to). I really think that is the comments that make Slashdot worthwhile.

    ~~~~~~~~~
    auntfloyd
  • I suppose that would explain why I hadn't seen a plain Phoenix BIOS in years. I didn't realize Award was actually Phoenix, and I was starting to think they had gone out of business.
  • First, Robinson Crusoe was written by Daniel Defoe (No, I didn't know it off the top of my head; I checked Amazon.), but other people have mentioned that here. Second, the story you're describing is Huckleberry Finn. I'm a lot less startled by the troll than the fact that no one recognised that.

  • I guess you'd mean something like OpenBIOS [linux.de], eh?

    From the web page:

    PCs have had BIOSes since the dawn of time. And since the beginning, they have been DOS-specific, 16-bit, real-mode, etc. -- not something that a modern OS such as Linux, Hurd, or BSD can use. The OpenBIOS group intends to create a free BIOS for PCs. So far we have little code, but we are working on it


    ~~~~~~~~~
    auntfloyd
  • umm..windows already boots from a PROM system - SGIs new line of PCs have no BIOS.

    I believe the SGI's Visual Workstation 320/540 was designed with W2K ( the horror, the horror [imdb.com])in mind hence the USB and FireWire. They needed to create a custom HAL to get Windoze NT4 to boot and custom drivers so that USB mice and keyboards could be used. I don't believe you could run Windoze 9[5|8] on those boxes.

    BTW, Linux boots from that ok too.

    Yes, but Linux is a Real Operating System (tm)

    I'd be very happy to see an Intel-based server that had a real PROM monitor. One like SGI's that makes it trivial to do network booting and use a text terminal as a console. It would also eliminate the need for VGA, mouse and keyboard ports. Real servers are headless! Unfortunately, COTS hardware is designed for Windoze, so if you want the advantages of cheap/fast hardware, you usually get stuck with crap like the BIOS.

  • All I can say is thank you to the computer gods that it has not wormed its putrid way into any system that I have to use. I am getting ready to buy a new system...now there are two things I have to ask NOT be put on my system: Windows and Pheonix!
    There is another solution...I could turn off my monitor or even just close my eyes until I hear the hard drives thrashing the lovely tune of the Penguin waking. Only then, when Linux is starting, can I open my eyes and know that everything will be all right.
  • Gosh! You'd think they use real hardware or something! They even have a boot PROM written in FORTH!
    --
    I noticed
  • I have a vague recollection of seeing an article on SlashDot about 18 months ago heralding Intel's investment in Phoenix. That would be an interesting situation, if my recollection is accurate.
  • Hmm... well then, I disliked the old Pheonix. Perhaps I may need to rethink my predjudaces.
  • Why did they have to use Phoenix. I think they are my least favorite bios company.
  • BIOS sucks. We need a real command line firmware that knows what things like SCSI disks and ethernet cards are!

    On any Sun, SGI, Apple Mac, you can bring up a command line in firmware at boot time and truly control the boot process.

    On my Sun, I can boot off of any partition on any disk. I can also *really* boot from CD-ROMs (not cheesy El Torito CD's that work by emulating a piece of crap floppy disk).


    Well, not that anyone's going to read this, since it's posted so late, but I can boot from any SCSI device in my system, even a SCSI CD-ROM changer with multiple LUNs. I can boot from an external magneto-optical (MO) drive. I can even boot from the slave hard drive on the secondary EIDE port of my motherboard or from my ethernet card. If I really wanted to, I could hook up a modem to one of my comm ports and force my PC into a remote reboot by just dialing the modem's phone number.

    All I have to do is type "boot cdrom" to boot from CD, "boot net" to boot off of a network boot/install server. I can even create aliases so that I can say "boot linux" to boot off of a Linux partition - even if it's on my sixth SCSI disk in the chain.

    I don't have to type anything.

    I don't need to waste time/money installing stupid tools like System Commander to get the same functionality

    Isn't that Windows software or something? I've never used anything like that. All I have installed on my computer is LILO, plus the operating systems that I wish LILO to boot (it varies, depending on my mood).

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Sun's OpenBoot/OpenFirmware provides many mini-miracles.

    The PC BIOS is rather useless. But then again, I don't really use the PC BIOS for anything but the POST (power on self test) and PCI/PNP init. After that, the PC BIOS pretty much disappears. I use a decent PCI U2W SCSI card with its own firmware. I don't need a PC BIOS to boot my computer, unless I want to boot from an EIDE disk.

    I can't do miracles with a small SCSI firmware, but it does what it's supposed to do - boot my computer.

    Having a PC firmware that has access to my Ethernet card and a TCP/IP stack would be a novelty, and potentially very useful in an emergency, but of no use to the average consumer, who can't even figure out how to enter his PC BIOS setup program, much less use a SPARCstation firmware.

    Would it be better to have SPARCstation firmware in our PC workstations? Yes. Would it give incredible amounts of new features? No. Just some bells and whistles. PCs aren't really known for their security, scalability, or flexability. Transmeta isn't marketing a server chip here. It's just for low-power PCs.

    Why not write your own open source BIOS if your so unhappy with the current situation? (isn't that what you're supposed to say to people who run linux?)
  • Uh, these are to be consumer devices? What makes you think that consumers are concerned that their BIOS knows what an ethernet card is?

    Consumers don't, of course. But in addition to real firmware being fun for the technically savvy, it's also very useful in embedded systems such as these. Why? Because it's nice to put simple drivers for simple hardware in 1 or 2 MB of ROM rather than wasting scarce RAM on more complicated os-level drivers. Because it's nice to be able to boot from a network. Because it's nice to have hardware diagnostics built in, especially for machines that aren't likely to have lots of flashing lights, beeps, and other traditional failure indicators. In embedded systems, good firmware can make the difference. Now, I realize these aren't strictly embedded systems, but it's easy to see (at least for me) that they would greatly benefit from a nice OF implementation.

    Naturally, Transmeta's business plan revolves (for now) around x86 compatibility, and that means top-to-bottom peecee "emulation." I personally think that's a terrible idea that will condemn them to hang in the past while most everyone else rockets into the future, but in context, partnering with Phoenix makes perfect sense. And real firmware really just doesn't.

    ObFirmwareAnecdote: The ultralinux project once mocked Sun's motto as "The PROM is the computer" in appreciation of real firmware and its benefits.

  • Does anyone know when we are going to see a production laptop using a crusoe processor? Any rough guesses at a roll-out schedule?

    I've just searched IBM, Compaq, Toshiba and Siemens web sites and there isn't so much as a word about how they are planning to use crusoe.

    Anybody out there with a snip of information willing to post anonymously and put us all out of our suspense?

    I've got to buy a new laptop and I sure as hell don't want to buy one and then find 6 weeks later I could have bought a laptop with a crusoe processor in it.

    JSC
  • I believe you are correct in the areas you cover. However, there are developers, systems administrators, and "average users" out there who don't want "more Intel-compatable." There are people sick of the cruft and crap inherent in being compatable with everything Intel has created since 1980. This crap makes life worse for everyone.

    Operating system developers work around old architectural problems--there because to remove them would be to break some DOS application from 1983. Users get poorly-designed, ambiguous, and conflicting peripheral interfaces. Which way does the IDE connector go, pin 1 towards power connector? Which one is pin 1? This cable doesn't have a red stripe. I only get _two_ drives on this channel?

    Ever connect a 50-pin Centronics, 50-pin dense, or 68-pin dense SCSI connector to its cable? It only goes one way, if it's made correctly.

    Remember when microprocessors were _small_? Intel has doubled the volume of each of their processor housings since the 386, all the while requiring complicated cooling solutions to keep them within operating temperature ranges. This isn't progress, this is regress. They're faster, but they're so sloppy and loud. I'm convinced with the technology we have today (not tomorrow), we should be able to build a machine with performance on-par with that of a Pentium II with no fans. In fact, I'm typing on such a machine, it's a G3 laptop made by Apple, and it runs a multi-user, multi-tasking Unix clone. These machines are expensive because they're expensive to produce. Its components will continue to be produced in small quantities until people demand similar performance from the computers they use every day.

    PC board BIOS sets get hacked up every time someone makes a larger IDE disk. I believe that the only reason IDE is popular is because it's cheap, and the only reason IDE is cheap is because profit was the only thing clone-makers were looking at ten years ago. Ever take a look at LILO's source code? Why should anyone have to go through such contortions to boot an operating system? There are decent two-stage bootloaders (I use GRUB, FreeBSD's loader works well, I'm sure there are others), but the PC architecture is just so braindamaged when compared with something like the Alpha, or OpenFirmware on a SPARC or a PowerPC. I don't imply the latter are examples of perfect implementations, but they beat the spotted trousers off the PC. Every time I boot my Alpha, I'm impressed by the sheer usefullness of its SRM firmware. I can boot directly a kernel bootstrap program, initialize the PAL code in the processor, and be off, with none of that 640K silliness. I can boot MILO (or even flash it into firmware!), and "ls" my devices, before choosing what to boot.

    Crusoe could have changed this. All of this. Transmeta could have implemented a new, clean instruction set. They could have worked hard to provide top-quality documentation, reference material, and developer resources to a bunch of people looking for something new. They have my favorite "specially-abled alien" (or whatever INS wants to call him) to lead the port of an excellent operating system to this new architecture. They could have implemented a 64-bit memory addressing scheme. I have only read the PDF whitepaper, but it seems to me they could have easily used a 64-bit instruction set. Crusoe runs cool--very cool. I want my desktop to be fanless. That the hard drive makes noise implies that it moves, which it does by design. Only electrons need to move in a microprocessor. Transmeta's Code Morphing (TM) allows an excellent abstraction of the ISA from the hardware below it, and we need this.

    But I think I'm too idealistic. Transmeta couldn't have pulled that off. Transmeta is a business, and they want to money by selling a product to people that want it. People think they want Intel because they don't know anything else, and getting funding to fight Intel is probably harder than running a new chip from design to fabrication.

    I guess I'm disappointed because Transmeta failed to change the world.

    --
  • by Anonymous Coward
    who DIDN'T work secretly with Transmeta? It seems like such a joke; there must be all of fifteen developers that haven't been in from the get-go. It's a wonder the release surprised ANYONE. Of course we've decided to play the secrecy card because a) it's fun and b) we grew up with James Bond movies.

    Because of this, my own involvement with Transmeta and Crusoe cannot be revealed, but expect it soon (St. Valentines Day, but you didn't hear it from me!!!). However, I can leak a little info. Expect to see some APPLIANCES with fully OPEN SOURCED components dealing with DAIRY products . . . *wink*

    ever notice Crusoe and Cheese begin with the same letter? Of course you did; you're all developing apps for our syste....I've said too much already.
  • You shouldn't be paranoid about "another Intel". You should hope they become another Intel. How nice
    would it be to have Intel, AMD, and Transmeta become the "Big Three" of CPU design and have them
    push each other to produce better, faster, and cheaper CPUs.



    And cooler (pun intended)


    Colleen:Its a black-hole.
    Hunter:Is that a good thing?
    C:It is if you want to be compressed into oblivion.
    H:Oh.. coooool.
  • Okay, what gives with the low-performance linux-based web-pad vs. the high-performance NT based mobile computing platform that plays DVDs, etc. (please see Phoenix and Transmeta marketing hype for references)? I want to get the high performance toys, I want them to play DVDs and I want it to run Mobile Linux. Is that too much to ask?

    Oh well, I presume there will be subnotebooks/whatever we end up calling them based on the 700 mhz crusoe that will actually run Mobile Linux, and that the dichotomy is merely a marketing split to show the two "different" market sectors Transmeta is attacking with their products (handhelds vs. notebooks-of-the-future). I just am not entirely comfortable with the idea that Linux is boxed in as the embedded platform / handheld platform, at least from a marketing perspective.

  • Um, there is an icon for Intel, maybe even for Cyrix.

    But not for Motorola. And you dont know how much it turns my stomach to see the %^&#%$ APPLE icon displayed when a PowerPC story is run that is not explicitly specific to Apple.

    I've asked the slashdot crew to add a Moto icon, to no avail.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why are they your least favorite company? Please tell. What is your most favorite company? Your personal opinion is so important.
  • I don't know where you get your information from but we run our web server on dual PIII's with FreeBSD as the OS and it's rock solid. AMD and Intel chips are great for desktop or server applications just not the mobile environment where heat, power consumption and bulky packaging is a concern.


    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC
    www.npsis.com [npsis.com]
  • by xHost ( 93751 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @10:34AM (#1317721)
    Is it just me or does anybody think that Transmeta is using Linux+Linus as a way to sell their chips?

    I mean think about it, for a start-up chip company, /. already has its own ICON for news regarding it -- odd there aren't special icons for say intel or cyrix ?

    Call this Trolling, or Flamebait or whatever, but it seems that if Linus put his 'Thumbs Up' in a box filled with shit, /. and the rest of the rabid Linux users will think its caviar.

    Yadda yadda yadda, no I'm not pro-MS, and I have nothing against the crusoe cpu, just think at how easily you folks are manipulated.

  • It's been said a million times: ENOUGH WITH TRANSMETA! Their product is not the super meta-CPU we thought it would be. In fact, it's pretty boring.

    BUT, because Linus is in the company, we hear everything about it. The CEO had a flat tire? Good enough! Linus spills his coffee? RobLimo, get right on it!

    If Torvalds wasn't working there, would this be news? No, because no one would care. But the Church of Linus keeps everyone interested.

    Why don't we just stick a live webcam on his head, so we can track his every move? Make 'LinusCam' a Slashbox, and get it over with.

    ~~~~~~~~~
    auntfloyd
  • Correct, but misleading. Cyrix has been acquired by VIA Technologies of Taiwan, and in fact, they're currently preparing to release a new chip to compete with Celeron. I wouldn't write them off just yet. For more info, check out this page [viatech.com].
  • Just imagine..... 4 700mhz crusoe processors in 1 computer for under $1300!!!! A 4 700mhz processor desktop would cost a grand total of around $2500 even though the emulation would only make them feel like 500-550mhz processors just think what you could do 6 monthes to a year from now when they have crusoes running over 1ghz!
  • by An Ominous Cow Herd ( 146807 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @11:07AM (#1317728) Homepage
    The Transmeta Crusoe processor is supposed to run at much lower power consumption levels than normal CPUs. As a result, the heat generated by one of these processors is significantly lower than its competition. To use the Phoenix BIOS defeats this significant advantage.

    I've been to Phoenix, in July mind you, and I can safely say that Phoenix is way too hot to allow adequate operating temperatures for the Transmeta Crusoe processor.

    Sorry guys, I think you need to choose your business partners with a lot more forethought.
    ---
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @11:07AM (#1317729) Homepage
    Linus has "bitched" about how stupid most bioses are in regards to Linux and how things get done. What do you think are the chances that we'll see a bios that is almost perfect??? Can you imagine.. the Kernel drivers re-written so that bios work-arounds are removed... the speed increases would be cool!

    but then... why hasn't someone written an open source bios?
  • OK, so it doesnt understand scsi, but you can configure the RLL hdd, and floppy drive. It also has a debugger in ROM, so you can do debuggy things. Seeing as SCSI cards extend the bios, quite nicely in some cases, it must be possible to make an ISA/PCI card with an extended bios.

    If you've got a flash bios you may know that they're modular. Trouble is, if you flash it incorrectly and it breaks, the backup bios generally can't handle PCI vid cards, so you'll have to get an old ISA video card to reflash.
  • Is it just me or does anybody think that Transmeta is using Linux+Linus as a way to sell their chips?

    Sure, but there don't seem to be anything wrong with it. They pay Linus, but let him work on linux development on company time. It is only reasonable that they get something back, such as image.
  • I don't know enough about Torvalds's ethics and willingness to participate in capitalist exploitation, but as an accomplished geek Linus has a lot of credibility with me. The fact that he hasn't quit Transmeta in disgust (c.f. that Mozilla fuss a while back) does warm me to the possibility that Crusoe might be a worthy project.

    And even if Transmeta turns out to be just another processor company, it's still funding college educations for Linus's daughters. So I still wanna give Transmeta my $$. Also Linus seems like such a sweetheart ...[transmission interrupted as this poster is avalanched by his stuffed penguin collection]

  • Microsoft is afraid of real firmware. Think about it - the Sun boot PROM (for example) has more features and functionality than windows, and fewer bugs! (that little floppy boot thing notwithstanding...)
  • Back in the XT days I remember the old IBM Technical manuals had the assembler source code for the BIOS printed out.

    (And I can still remember the excitement of getting a full 5.25" high hard drive and DOS 3)

  • For newbies, the command line can be hidden. The Apple Macintosh (including the idiotproof iMac) use OpenFirmware, which is a standardized version of Sun's OpenBoot.

    The Mac is proof that consumers don't need to worry about Firmware. Experts can just type a keyboard sequence to enter the firmware prompt.

  • If you think there is a problem, then be part of the solution:
    OpenBIOS! [linux.de]
  • IBM's fabbing for 'em. What do you think their
    nifty new wearables are gonna be running?
    Motorola has no excuse though, I have to concur.
  • All the Netware people would care. You still need to boot DOS before you can get Netware running.

    I rather like how they use DOS.. a big fat boot loader.
  • Sign of the times, man!

    They seem to be a simplification of the @ sign which have been popular in some circles, but less obstrusive, and way cooler.

    Though one can easily be dragged into the symbols, like water running out of a bathtub.

    In naivistic art one often sees the sun as a spiral, quickly drawn.

    Just my first thoughts on that matter.

  • ...and its not like he's some AMAZING coder anyway... ...so why are you ppl thinking he's some God ?

    What is the hell? Linus IS a god! What are you on man? Linus and RMS are THE Open Source gods! Jesus, Mary and Joseph what are you thinking?!

    And even though I think they ARE using Linux PARTIALY because of the market I also think there is nothing wrong with this as everyone else does it and no one gripes about that. I belive that /. is giving it so much attention because it is a cool new product, being able to upgrade your PC via the net.. that kicks ASS and is DEFINATELY news for nerds and stuff that matters!

    Send all flames to /dev/null
  • Well, though this makes sense, why is there a lack of announcements about the support chipset(s)? If they are using something completely new, it would explain the 2-year dev cycle for the BIOS, but would not excplain the lack of announcement; however, if they are using some sort of existing (or something similar to an existing) support chipset, it should not have taken that length of time to produce a BIOS.

    Of course, they do not specifically say that there was a 2-year long development, just a 2-year partnership. So take it all with a grain of salt. It does seem that there is a missing piece of the puzzle, though.
  • Cyrix was purchased by VIA and they are now coming out with new CPU in March called "Joshua"(They may change it at the release). It is supposed to be compatible with celeron ppga's and cost the same or less.

    VIA Press release about Joshua [viatech.com]

    Socket 370 pinout on P6 bus interface

    Integrated 64 Kb L1 cache

    Integrated mutually exclusive 256 Kb L2 cache

    133 MHz Front Side Bus (FSB) support

    3DNow! (TM) Technology

    Enhanced dual pipelined MMX (TM) and FPU

    Utilized advanced 0.18 fabrication process

    I have Pentium II LX mb I wanted to upgrade. I was going to replace the P2 233Mhz with a Celeron 466 or 500 ppga but think I will hold off to see what happens. It's my fourth computer anyway. I use it for R&D.

  • First off, if the CPU is going to slide up and down on it's voltage, instead of just stepping down once (like the Intel) then new chipset support is needed. If you can put power management on the chip, great, but you've still got the rest of the system sucking juice. If your BIOS can manage power this way for the whole computer, even better.

    Then there's integrating wireless communication, support for low and no power storage, maybe firewire... All the things that would be really nice to have now.

    Then again, and I'm surprised nobody's mentioned it so far...

    SOMEBODY has to burn those mobile-Linux in ROM chips.
  • I have an Award bios that was before pheniox bought them it seems to work ok, But if there are better bios out there what are they?
  • Well, if you take the time to browse the Transmeta site [transmeta.com] you'll be hard pressed to find reference to Linus. Refs to Linux are rampant but no more than those for Windows. Also, OS references of any kind are non-gratuitous in that they are directly relevant to the point being discussed.

    If you were able to watch the PCWeek Webcast of the Transmeta press conference you would have seen Linus make only a cameo appearance.

    The evidence suggests very strongly that Transmeta is not using Linus or Linux inappropriately to sell Crusoe processors.
    "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

  • Just pour hot grits on it a few times and reboot.
  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @11:16AM (#1317758) Homepage
    To say that the BIOS is worthless is to imply fundamental problems in the code that makes up the Basic Input Output System. I think that you are probably talking about the BIOS setup program - the interface that most users see after pressing (pick one: F1, F2, DEL) during POST. It allows you to set the various options and parameters that the BIOS will use.

    After working as an OEM hardware tech for numerous years, I'd have to say that what goes in the BIOS setup program is up to the OEM. I have seen prototyped motherboards with really nifty options in the BIOS setup program, only to see those options stripped out for the production boards. Consumers are too stupid to understand all those options, you see, and they might mess things up, so the "unnecessary" options are all stripped out.

  • The issue is not why IDE is cheap but why SCSI is expensive. Maybe the controller chips and cable cost a little more, but the disks dont. I recently went to a SIG talk by a designer from Adaptec. He was asked why SCSI drives cost so much more when they are so similar to IDE. He answered that they often wonder that themselves, and privately the disk manufacturers told him that a SCSI disk costs about $1 more to make. It is just simply a matter of getting away with charging a higher price for a better product, whatever it costs to make. Sux!!
  • I heard rumors that Intel was working on a new BIOS spec that included stuff like built-in TCP/IP support. I can't seem to find any information about this on their website [intel.com], so either it's secret or they canned it. I suspect it's the latter, since I seriously doubt the PC BIOS programmers will sign up for the work unless they have to.
  • Setup 'windows' wrong?
    um, actually, im not using windows at all..

    but my father is, and he had the problem you describe how to fix , so I'll try it.

    lots of the time, though, when i want to press the power button, it is becasue windows has microsofted out, and there is no chance it is going to respond to anything, let alone 'automatically shutdown', im afraid.
  • I would imagine that the price would be relativly reasonable, judging by what i've read their target market is going to be. No one is going to pay 1500$ for a TransPalm MMXVI. I would like to see this in smaller computers that can take the beating of being mounted under the seat in my truck. Possibly with a ultra-shock-resistant-40seconds-ESP DVD-ROM and one of those nifty flat/touch screen monitors... Road trips would suddenly seem fun, and it would be a way to shut the kids up :) (Imagine, Half-life TFC/CS over your wireless inet connection, assuming they can fine tune that tech also)

    Eraser_
  • They actually demo'd a bunch of computers running Windows and MS Office, as well as a "web pad" running mobile linux. Also, there was a quake contest between Dietzel and Linus "Mr. T" Torvalds using Crusoe computers. The whole reason Transmeta waited so long, according to dietzel, is that they wanted to wait until they had a working product to demonstrate to everyone. The crusoe chip is in full production right now, and Transmeta has a huge head start on AMD and Intel in the embedded market. So it is wrong to lable Transmeta's stuff as vaporware.
  • I am wondering about the actual price of this thing. I would really like to see a cheap computer that could attract people in my boat and not just high end people with thousands of dollars. Will this just be another toy of the ecconomic elite?
  • but then... why hasn't someone written an open source bios?

    I wouldn't go about holding your breath. . . The last project [linux.de] that I know about trying to do this didn't get too far. I would certainly agree that such an effort would be possible, however, I think that such a project would face many uphill battles before having anything like a usable product.

    The tarball I grabbed from their page has file modification dates more than a year old. I think I might have been subscribed to a mailing-list of theirs at one point, even . . . I think that you need a few really talented people at the core to pull off the bootstrap of any ambitous project, and either openbios didn't have talended enough people or not enough talented people. (Though there seem to have been plenty of people to propose logos [linux.de] for the project).

  • BIOS sucks. We need a real command line firmware that knows what things like SCSI disks and ethernet cards are!

    Uh, these are to be consumer devices? What makes you think that consumers are concerned that their BIOS knows what an ethernet card is?

    -Brent
  • I would have to agree with you here. The Alpha's was pretty damn cool, too. But I suspect that Transmeta is trying to be as backward compatible as possible. They could avoid that by either not supporting Windows (can't do that, need to make money) or by getting MS to upgrade (won't happen). So the only result could be an upgraded transmeta chip that runs a special firmware and linux combo. This means another different chip and linux to support. Ug.
    All this leaves back under the hot Pheonix sun.
  • um, what?

    More details about a new mobile processor that a whole lotta folks (outside /.) seem to think is pretty neat?

    and why not use linux, I mean, linus, to promote your product. You have an icon working for you. I don't know why we didn't see him during the Superbowl.

    Maybe a slow crawling forward over the shoulder shot of Linux playing q3a on a Tmeta box. He glances over his shoulder, acts surprised, hits a special key combo and gets back to kernel hacking.
    Fade to Tmeta logo. Tagline, um, "Linus likes it." with www.transmeta.com floating around there somewhere. If geeks could market, linux would be in a lot better shape.
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @11:24AM (#1317810)
    So far, the processing power race has only had one thing in mind: more mips from a single processor, nothing else matters, not size, not heat, well, maybe cost matters, but *not that much*. I've always thought that the way forward is to maximize processing through per transistor, and that's exactly where Transmeta is going. This directly affects me in two ways: first, my laptop, which is a bleeding wound as far as battery life is concerned. Second: my desktop 2 years from now. I want it to be 16-way or better, yet I don't want to be able to fry eggs on it, and I don't want it to have enough fans to achieve liftoff. Or a refrigerator. The only way to get there is with more energy-efficient processors. Fewer transistors == less heat, other things being equal. Did I say I hate fans? I hate fans.

    One thing about Linus being involved in Transmeta is it suggests the tantalizing possiblity that the code morphing software may ultimately wind up being open-sourced. I couldn't think of anyone who could make a more powerful argument for it. Plus, I'd love to be able to program a machine like this directly in its "microcode" (a relative term as far as crusoe is concerned). Again, with LInus in there, I'd see it as a distinct possibility. Did you ever hear of anyone programming the PPro in microcode? It's possible, but nobody does it because Intel keeps that info locked up tighter than a... well, darn tight. Transmeta might not be so anal about it.
  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @11:59AM (#1317816) Homepage
    Yes, Transmeta has been very secretive. There is nothing wrong with that. The extreme level of secrecy actually ended up being a brilliant PR move. The difference between "closed door CPU design" and "dirty closed source software" is that anyone with a compiler and source code can roll thier own software. If everyone on Slashdot got copies of the Crusoe design, then every one of us with access to a .18 micron fab facility could make our own processors and maybe contribute to the design process.

    Sarcasm aside, CPU development and software development are completely different. The "open source" model of distributed collaboration just does not work with CPUs.

    We also have to remember that people (like them or not) spent upwards of $100M over 4 years, with zero return on investments, to make this new CPU happen. They are entitled to make some money off of a very risky undertaking. They were envisioning 700 MHz mobile CPUs when Intel was selling top of the line 120 MHz chips for workstations.

    You shouldn't be paranoid about "another Intel". You should hope they become another Intel. How nice would it be to have Intel, AMD, and Transmeta become the "Big Three" of CPU design and have them push each other to produce better, faster, and cheaper CPUs.

    -B

  • It's too bad there's not an open-source "BIOS" for x86 machines. I'm looking into a new approach to a kernel for Linux that could use one.

    "BIOS" is really a misnomer today. "Boot ROM" would be more appropriate. Not much of what's in ROM is used once any modern OS is running. The legacy underlayer of DOS that's still in the ROMs could be removed without much loss, like the old BASIC interpreter was. (You'd lose the ability to boot DOS, assuming anybody still cares.)

  • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @11:59AM (#1317818) Journal
    Actually, at the time Transmeta hired Linus this "Linux" thing hadn't been recognized by most markets as significant, so at the time how much it might affect marketing was not obvious. Transmeta obviously saw some possibilities and was willing to invest somewhat in Linux. Linus obviously chose a place where he'd be able to do interesting things while continuing to develop Linux. Linus probably charged somewhat more for his services due to his Linux leadership, and Transmeta was obviously willing to pay a satisfactory amount.

    Transmeta certainly wasn't making itself obvious during recent years, other than perhaps maintaining a scent of mystery. Their employment of certain people attracted some attention. But the attention we've been seeing up to now has been outsiders trying to look behind the curtain.

    They certainly could have emitted occasional press releases which mentioned Linus or Linux if they wanted to use him in public. Well, they could if their contract with Linus doesn't forbid it...we don't know.

  • The chip design in my opinion is entirely no where near being revolutionary.

    The Chip design *is* revolutionary, and no one *cares* about your opinion.

    If you beg to differ, please show us a previous chip that was low powered, for long battery life in mobile markets, and did code morphing. Hehe, that's 2 for me and I didn't think more then 20 seconds.

    I'm waiting...

    -Brent
  • Intel may be mad about being mooned but Phoenix is the king of the BIOS world and has been working with Intel (and Microsoft) for years. Through APM to ACPI, lots of BIOS changes had to be made. In fact, without a proper ACPI compliant BIOS, Win2k will either not work or have problems with some of the power managment features. New systems can not be certified by MS without a fully ACPI BIOS. Intel needs Win2k to be a success to help build momentum for the coming Itanium push into the server scene.
    Besides chips and what not, Intel makes complete systems. They had one of those systems at the MS PlugFest for Win2k/Millenium (I tested my company's fibre channel board with them) and they had several problems with their hardware that they needed their Pheonix buddies to create a work around for. Intel needs Pheonix, just like the whole PC market does.
  • by soldack ( 48581 ) <soldacker.yahoo@com> on Monday January 31, 2000 @12:06PM (#1317826) Homepage
    This may be in there but there doesn't seem to be too many details on what it really does (besides be your ISP and give you a pretty start up screen). Any idea what else it does?
    It does seem to connect to the internet before you boot. Why don't they just throw in a web browser, e-mail, news group reader, irc, and AIM? Now THAT would be an Internet-BIOS!
  • by Pike ( 52876 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @10:37AM (#1317829) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe how many people are naysaying the future of Transmeta and its processors. Just because OEMs weren't present at the press conference on the 19th and there aren't an 700mhz Crusoe laptops on the shelves doesn't mean Transmeta is about to exit stage left. It's been what, about a week now? Yes, we're all impatient for them to really roll this stuff out, but give it a little time. It's very unrealistic to write off a company after only ten days of inactivity when it has friends like IBM, S3, and a good bios company like Phoenix.
  • ummm

    Intel already has a slashdot icon dude. So does AMD.
    dunno about cyrix tho

    Micah
  • by Troed ( 102527 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @10:38AM (#1317831) Homepage Journal
    "The Crusoe processor family consists of two solutions, the TM5400 and the TM5400"

    See! From the Phonex press-release, now everyone knows that Transmeta only has ONE processor!!! The big secret is out!

  • by gjt ( 93855 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @10:40AM (#1317834)
    BIOS sucks. We need a real command line firmware that knows what things like SCSI disks and ethernet cards are!

    On any Sun, SGI, Apple Mac, you can bring up a command line in firmware at boot time and truly control the boot process.

    On my Sun, I can boot off of any partition on any disk. I can also *really* boot from CD-ROMs (not cheesy El Torito CD's that work by emulating a piece of crap floppy disk).

    All I have to do is type "boot cdrom" to boot from CD, "boot net" to boot off of a network boot/install server. I can even create aliases so that I can say "boot linux" to boot off of a Linux partition - even if it's on my sixth SCSI disk in the chain.

    I don't need to waste time/money installing stupid tools like System Commander to get the same functionality.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Sun's OpenBoot/OpenFirmware provides many mini-miracles.

    SGI (which uses their own firmware) actually built Pentium III computers using a real firmware. And by doing that they were able to defeat the stupid 1024 cylinder limit and other bogus limitations of Wintel PeeCee's.

  • > odd there aren't special icons for say intel or cyrix ?

    You mean like http://slashdot.org/search.pl?topic=intel ?
  • "...does anybody think that Transmeta is using Linux+Linus as a way to sell their chips?"

    Yes. So?

    Transmeta is selling hardware (ok a hardware/software cpu). They don't care what you run on it. They would like you to run anything and everything on it. They just happened to have Linus around to develop and work on a testbed platform that they could do a proof of concept with. I don't see how getting Linux to run on yet /another/ (very promising IMHO) platform as exploitive.

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]
  • "However, the fact of the matter is that Transmeta does have some good ideas but really no working prototype."

    HUH?! Did you miss the press conference? They ran Quake on a Windows system and a Linux system to demo the stuff. Am I missing something?

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @10:41AM (#1317841) Homepage Journal
    Phoenix recently recieved a terse E-Mail from Intel, the complete body of which read "Phoenix, you bitch, have you been seeing another hardware company on the side?"
  • I want it to be 16-way or better, yet I don't want to be able to fry eggs on it, and I don't want it to have enough fans to achieve liftoff.

    This is interesting, and something I hadn't really thought about. 16-way home processors. Sometimes I forget how much more powerful the machine I'm typing on is that the one I used just 8 years ago (386-16). Moore's law is fun.

    (begin thread entitled "Back in my day...")
  • "This means another different chip and linux to support. Ug."

    Um, isn't the whole point of Crusoe /not/ to have to redesign the hardware? All they have to do is plug in a better firmware. I guess it would be pseudo-firmware because it would run at the Code Morphing level (hmm...emulated firmware)...better term anybody? "turgidware"?

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @11:31AM (#1317850) Homepage Journal
    Hell yeah.. my sentaments excatly. If Crusoe is going to be such a good processor, why would they take a step back and use BIOS?

    Probably so you can boot a standard copy of Windows with no rigamarole. Makes life easier and cheaper for companies who want to bang out cheap laptops with as little new engineering as possible.

    This is good for people who want to run Linux because Linux currently depends on cheap, standardized hardware built for Windows.

  • The symbol of the Phoenix [stiltman.com] is perfect for Transmeta, since what other creature could emerge in its full brilliant splendor from the fiery death that is an overheating pentium? I submit to you, the answer is none.

    Conspiracy theory for the day: the Kottler Caldera Group of Phoenix was a finalist [phoenix.az.us] in the design contest for Phoenix, AZ's official symbol. What could this mean?!?!?!
  • There's more to this story...
    Phoenix has been working on putting some kind of internet service called Phoenixnet built into the BIOS. It seems like the kind of thing you'd want in a dedicated web appliance, but I don't know if the two are related.

    http://www.phoenix.com/phoenixnet/phoenixnet.html [phoenix.com]
  • They commented at the 'Kickoff' that they would most likely not be Open Sourcing the morphing software.

    They also suggested that one of the main reasons was so they could change the chips and the way things are, and the changes would be transparent to any programs that assumed they were good old x86's.

    A better set of questions might be:

    How long will it be before we see someone reverse engineer the Code Morphing software?

    What will Transmeta's reaction be? (if its used to create, lets say a Java interface... and yes, I know they had a Java codemorphing VM running on one of the machines at the demo)

    Will we see Code Morphing Viruses? (ie. viruses written either to attack the Code morphing software, or else, which attempt to either alter the code morphing software, or else run their own code directly against the processor in an attempt to circumvent the Code Morphing layer?)



    Colleen:Its a black-hole.
    Hunter:Is that a good thing?
    C:It is if you want to be compressed into oblivion.
    H:Oh.. coooool.
  • The Linux kernel doesn't use the BIOS directly. I think the kernel probes a few data structures behind it's back, but as far as I know only LILO uses the BIOS functionality.
  • Silly. Everyone knows that Robinson Crusoe was written by Stephen King. I mean, "Duh"!

  • After working as a tech for numerous years, I'd have to say that the vast majority of Phoenix BIOSes are really worthless. (Esp those in Packard Bells... but that goes without saying) Fewer controls for PnP/IRQ settings, cache settings, DRAM settings, AGP settings, etc. that can come in handy in a wide variety of instances, especially IRQ conflicts in Linux systems. Oh well, the most popular BIOS in the world can't be bad, right?
  • Is it just me or does anybody think that Transmeta is using Linux+Linus as a way to sell their chips?

    I agree, Linus is nothing more than a ploy to sell more stuff. But think about it: right now, there is a commercial running on TV with some NASCAR driver endorsing Hardees. What does NASCAR have to do with Hardees? nothing. But, Hardees' target audience is hicks who enjoy NASCAR. Transmeta wants to use a geek hero to sell stuff to geeks. It's the same thing.

    Make Seven

  • Now all we need is a mini-motherboard complete with Phoenix Bios, Crusoe processor, and integrated video and sound. Perfect for a do-it-yourself wearable computer.

  • I think that some of what you say has validity. However, considering how popular Linux and Linus are, if you were David Ditzel, wouldn't you use this popularity to your advantage? The odds are stacked pretty heavily against them as they have little OEM support right now. I think they need to use every advantage possible. The secrecy was a tremendous coup for them where advertising was concerned and it cost relatively nothing. They are just pulling out all of the stops and using all of their weapons, so-to-speak.

    In closing, I must add I particularly didn't like this part of your comment, "...,just think at how easily you folks are manipulated." Just a bit too much overgeneralization, don't you think? For instance, some of the "people" you are talking about thought enough about the rest of your comment to take an honest look and say "Yeah, you know, he has a point." by moderating you up. I really can't stand such a "high-horse" or "holier-than-thou" attitude. It kind of stinks. I would venture to say that most of the people that read Slashdot have a tremendous amount of respect for Linus. Enough to believe that a product that he has worked on and endorses warrants a little more attention than the average. Just my opinion of course.


    ----------------

    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
  • It really suprises me that people still seem to think that coding around the "code-morphing" will actually improve the speed of a program on this chip. Keep in mind, this chip has no OO execution or branch-prediction, and relies on the software above to figure that out as best as possible.

    If you even _could_ code (or better yet they _allowed_ your to code) in the native format, it still would suffer, because the things that the silcon doesn't have is exactly what makes stuff run fast.

    At least last time I looked.
  • by mcrandello ( 90837 ) on Monday January 31, 2000 @10:46AM (#1317893) Homepage
    Provided I don't have to look at a stupid advertisement [slashdot.org] for transmeta instead of the bios post screen.

    And no, it's really a slashdot link. :)


    mcrandello@my-deja.com
    rschaar{at}pegasus.cc.ucf.edu if it's important.
  • You see, to have a low-power processor that can consume only 1-2W of power compared to low power versions like Intel which takes 20-30 W and desktop versions which take 100W, that is a tremendous improvement. It runs at a decent speed too.

    And we haven't even gotten round to the x86 intruction set compatibility and code morphing technology yet.

    All of these are interesting stuff for geeks. News for geeks. Stuff that matters. It's cool and from what we've seen, it might be affordable.

    Linus? Yeah. But the only drawing attraction Linus has is the slashdot crowd. A lot of the perceived hype comes from one's own over-inflated expectations, really. Don't let it faze you, and in the end, it is still cool tech.

  • If the Crusoe appears X86 compatible to the outside world anyway?

    It was said at the Transmeta presentation that the code morphing software is loaded up before the BIOS.

    I presume this would mean that the BIOS sees a normal x86 when it loads itself up.

    I suspect the BIOS modifications mainly consist in a giant Pinguin replacing the normal POST screen ;)

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