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IBM To Demo Crusoe Thinkpad 129

CoreDump writes: "Just ran across this story at about IBM announcing that they will demo a Crusoe based Thinkpad at PC Expo. This is what I've been waiting for, not an "appliance", but an actual full-blown system that can be used every day. They aren't planning products until the fourth quarter, but I know what *I* want to find under the tree on Dec. 25th. "
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IBM to Demo Crusoe Thinkpad

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  • Mobile computing has it's uses but I think the money would be better spent on something that dosn't force you to put all your eggs in one basket and perhaps offer a nice wireless network connection.
    All it takes is one little thief to ruin your dreams.
    Also unless I am very much mistaken laptops are very, very, very prone to breakage from various facets of handling thermal expansion/contraction as well as almost never being able to upgrade.
    Now if you have a choice of burning $5,000+ USD or buying one then pehraps...
  • I understand that, but I don't understand how emulating a RISC chip vs. a CISC chip involves more overhead -- there are fewer instructions to emulate, and presumably it's possible to combine multiple RISC instructions into a single CISC instruction under emulation. That the RISC processor natively executes more instructions per logical task due to the instructions' simplicity -- why does that yeild more emulator overhead?

  • If the price is right you can bank on it. I seen several times claims that Intel expects to make a bigger margin on its mobile pentium chips to make up for the thin margins on the more competition-driven desktop chip market. If Transmeta can get the devices made in large volumes and they really do have the advantage of low power consumption then they will pick up the minor players quickly. People like Dell are just too in-bed with Intel though.
  • The "video effects" or "window manager" KVM switch would be ideal. Right now our machine room is awash in displays -- we're looking at getting some racks to mount the equipment, but there's been more than once that I've wanted to be able to look at arbitrary machine's displays simultaneously, and with a traditional KVM switch it'd be tough.

    I suspect the reason we haven't seen something like that is that the KVM switches that are out there are priced sky high to begin with because they're being sold to big organizations and they're marketed party under the rubric of saving you money because you don't need to buy extra monitors, and anybody selling you something that lets you save money charges you in anticipation of getting some of that money out of you..

  • I just finished an assignment on the Crusoe chip for 2nd year Uni at Sydney Uni, and as far as I know, the x86 emulation is essentially software but is pretty tweaked for the x86 instruction set. This isn't to say it's impossible for it to be made able to emulate the PPC, but I think the team would have to completely rewrite their "code morphing" software that handles the x86 emulation; it has a lot of exception handling that is very specific to the architecture - they even had to study how blue screens of death were caused under windows so that these were produced when "necessary" *grin*

    I guess what I'm saying is that a lot of work would have to go in to it because of the difference in architecture between the PPC and x86 - it'd be like redoing it for MIPS or something :-)
  • Does anyone have information on whether someone is working on having Cruesoe run Java bytecode? It was said that due to Cruesoe's adaptability features it /could/ do so, but that's just theory.
  • At uni we learned MIPS asm which was quite easy to handle considering about half the class couldn't really even handle higher order languages... The textbook we used is by David Patterson and John Hennessy (Computer Organisation and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface) and is quite easy to understand. MIPS is much simpler apparently than x86 to learn on, but I'm not really in a position to compare because I've only learned the MIPS :-)

    Hope that helps!
  • A lot of companies get into trouble because of cash flow, Transmeta spent $100+mil to develop Crusoe, from now till we see a product based on the Crusoe, they are going to spend a lot more on research, trying to market and convince people to build with their stuff. If they run out of cash, Crusoe will die, It might sound crazy, but the best technologies don't win, I hope Transmeta is fast and swift and knows what they are doing. This is taking too much time already.

  • Suddenly the application is the OS...

    So much for cut and paste. (Or any more sophisticated inter-app communication.)

    Don't worry, that's nothing that can't be implemented with a few hours of hacking...

  • There is a linux port for strongARM. duh. :-)
    You can compile the vast majority of free software out there for it. :-) boo!!! :)

  • Who says that performance is just measured in clock speed?
  • I don't see how those relate. I mean, the biggest
    barrier to my sitting at my breakfast table
    reading /. using wireless LAN is my lack of a
    breakfast table.

    A plain-old ix86 laptop with a Lucent Wavelan
    card does the job just fine. I can see Crusoe
    as a lower-power chip, or a higher performance
    chip (?), or a chip that can pretend to be various
    other CPU types. It could even be the base of a
    cheaper device, but most of those costs (e.g.
    display) are outside the CPU.

    But, as for wireless computing, it's already here.
  • Yes, it is. For every Crusoe chip you get, part of Linus Torvalds has been genetically grafted into the chip. Who knows! If you keep it waterered just right, it might grow into your very own sexy as hell Linus clone
  • I think the original point of the post was that Crusoe seems to be the bastard child of a PC processor and an embedded systems processor. Unfortunately, in this case, it seems to me to have inherited few of the virtues and most of the evils of its parents. In the PC market, it lacks both the raw power and market acceptance of Intel and AMD, and in the embedded systems market, it lacks both the acceptance (again) and the maturity of ARM. From what I understand, about the only thing the chip has going for itself is its low power consumption. And I agree: one must wonder where this chip (and its respective company) would be without Linus. Just my thoughts.


  • Hmm I seem to have a couple of 486 class chips around here somewhere... Also I really doubt you would need a dual processor to "help make porn render faster" unless you are getting an encrypted video stream via Poland or something.
  • We (and our future generations) will laugh at the statement, "...paving the way for a computer that could run all day on a single battery." just as much as we laugh at, "640k ought to be enough for anybody." now... ;-)

    I can't wait.


    There's so much bad in the best of us
    and so much good in the worst of us
    that it doesn't behoove any of us
    to talk about the rest of us.
  • Exactly what I want too. I LOVE my 505 GX, but a Crusoe-based 505 would be the absolute BOMB :)

    Linux runs on it like a's system stats are only a 266 mobile MMX processor, 64 Meg RAM, and 2.1 GB HDD, but in some ways it's faster than my dual-400 at home. And with the double-life battery I currently get 2-2.5 hours just on the battery. With that, plus the suspend-to-disk feature, my laptop has an uptime longer than my tower (days...Alabama Power must've tripped over a power line on Sunday).

    Just imagine the power-saving features of the Crusoe applied to that

    Who am I?
    Why am here?
    Where is the chocolate?
  • I think it was a joke, not really all that serious. He does illustrate a valid point however, in that IBM has made much ado lately about Open Source this and Open Source that and oh how we are great supporters of (buzword) Linux and the Open Source community as a whole.

    IMO I think that IBM is working toward supporting the open source community from a HW compatibility perspective, most of the rest is hype to keep their name in the open source trades. Hopefully their claims will come to something and they will provide the open source community with more than just talk. However I don't think they will ever acheive the open Source Natalie like -osm would like.

  • by Schnedt McWapt ( 195938 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:40PM (#1023481)
    Yes, indeed. Ages ago in computer years, Intel came out with that marvelous piece of silicon known as the 486-SX. Elves throughout the Intel plant worked strenuously with a scratch awl, digging out that floating point silicon.

    These days, Intel doesn't have the time, nor the resources, to engage in such operations themselves. They've got Xeons to pump out. So they've partnered with Transmeta, who are proud to introduce . . .

    Crusoe- also known as . . .

    . . . the Pentium-SX ! ! !

    For those light duty machines ladies often carry in their handbags. Truly the derringer of microprocessors.

  • That's doubling the density every 18 months..
  • I guess I'm being skeptical here, but I won't buy into this whole Crusoe/Transmeta idea until I can sit at my breakfast table reading /. using wireless LAN.

    You can do this today with an iBook or Powerbook and Apple's AirPort technology.


  • The point of Moore's Law was that the growth rate was exponential, not the particular value for the doubling time.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • a corp speak term for any system that does what wintel machines do without stepping on any toes by saying "Heir to the functionality of the destop PC" or "Will completely replace Microsofts and Intel's strangle hold on the home PC market." Transmetta is kicking Wintel where it hurts. Laptops have been Intel's "Australia" (as in the game risk) Intel has heavy competition in the desktop market from AMD. Sun, Compaq etc. are slapping Intel on the other front server side. Transmetta is going to severely dent Intel's laptop profits. At the same time Transmetta is taking a chunk of Intel's profits you can bet they hired Linus to take a chunk out of M$ too. Goodbye Win CE and Win 9x on laptops. Say hello to x86 instruction set translators and Linux.

    I am not as much pro-linux anti-wintel as I am pro competition. Have you priced laptops recently? I am not an ardent AMD fan but look at what a little competition has done to the desktop CPU market.

    Intel PIII-933mhz $874.00 down $386.00 overnight because of AMD's 1Ghz T-bird release.

    drop the price of every laptop by $386.00 because of transmetta and laptop prices start looking a little more sane.

    I just don't understand why a small hot startup would want to avoid doing business with the gentle giant M$ (Sarcasm).

  • Is this the same chip that Linus is part of?
  • I'd like to see spec95 benchmark results which transmeta, of course, did not post on their site.

    Did you read their criticism of existing benchmarks instead? There's no point in running a spec95 because it won't tell you how the system runs when you go to use it.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • Do you know where there is a Netscape port + Java plugin for Linux/ARM?

    Try EPOC/ARM then - from Symbian []. Built in MS-synchronisable Office and email progs. No Netscape but Opera [] is good enough. And has Java support.

    How's this [] for a tasty (albeit expensive) "net appliance".

    (There is life beyond MS and Linux ...)

    Regards, Ralph.

  • A recent story mentioned that their new models are the cheapest yet - in the $ 1,200 range.

    Of course the really cool ones are always more expensive, but they've gone down quite a bit. A few years back, the state of the art 750 series was pushing $ 7,000. Now the closest equivalent (with the great 15" screen) is pushing $4,000, not bad relatively speaking.

    You can get reconditioned ThinkPads at - I bought my 770Z (366mhz, 128mb ram [upgraded to 256], 14gb hard drive, 1280x1024 active matrix screen]) for $ 2,750. I've had it a few months and I'm very pleased with it - the display has perfectly crisp tiny characters that are just perfect for the programmer who likes having lots of information in little space.

    But I still want the new titatium case and the spiffier higher resolution screens ... maybe next year :-).


  • Generally, I'm a pretty trusting person, but I wouldn't believe a word the man says. If his testimony in the trial isn't Clintonian enough, go take a look at his books. Rather, grab a first edition of his first book, and then a second edition. Note all the huge changes- MSN is the future in the first edition, and the 'net is the future the second time around. I mean, it's bad enough to lie and say you didn't say something, but to erase history like that without even acknowledging your initial mistake is pretty scary. ~luge
  • yes []


  • It'd be real hard to find a chip with Linus on it (Linus'n'chips instead of fish'n'chips? or a hardwired copy of his brain?), but yes he helped develop it.
    For more information, hit their homepage [].

    What rock've you been hiding under?


  • How is there more translation overhead translating RISC? RISC is supposed to be Reduced Instructions. If you're translating a CISC chip with 500 instructions and now you want to do PPC with 150, how is that more overhead? Sounds like less overhead to me.

  • where a recharge is just "fill er up"
  • At least let me build one.
    HAHAHAHA. You are kidding, right? If you've got a multi-billion dollar fab in your backyard, let me know... Otherwise, I'm fairly sure that the only people in the world who could build "themselves" a Transmeta ship are Intel and AMD (and IBM, but they are already paid to do that.) I mean, I'm sure Andy Grove would do a backflip if they did this, but it wouldn't do the rest of us a damn bit of good. Stupid troll... go work on your skillz and then come back when you can be at least funny...
  • Simultaneously run different virtual machines each with native code.

    This would probably not be practical without some special hardware features, but it would be cool.
  • I guess I'm being skeptical here, but I won't buy into this whole Crusoe/Transmeta idea until I can sit at my breakfast table reading /. using wireless LAN.

    I frequently do this with a laptop and a WebGear Aviator 2.4 Ghz spread spectrum network card. This has something like 1.2Mbit/sec bandwith, which is plenty for Internet, and excellent range -- hundreds of feet. It is also supported in the recent Linux kernels, so it is very easy to get running.

    The main limitation on the client side is the form factor, a rather largish PC card; this won't fit in most PDAs. The last PDA I've seen with a full fledged PC card slot was the Newton. Too bad it was discontinued, the Newton with this card would rock.

  • a long, long time ago -- the early 1980s if i recall correctly -- there was a computer called the 'dimension' into which you could plug up to four processor boards. one had a z80 or 8080 and made it behave like a cp/m system, one had am 8088 i believe and endowed with the powers of an ibm xt, etc. it seemed like the swiss army knife of computers, which was enticing back then because there were ten or more incompatible microcomputers around, ranging from the $100s to the $1000s. the dimension purported to allow you to avoid the perils of locking in on the wrong platform. (anyone remember the exidy sorcerer?) i never saw one live -- just in the pages of byte magazine. don't know what happened to them, either.

    the uberplatform is like an urban myth that surfaces every five years, always in different forms but with the same ultimate end.
  • hard drives are the only thing left that produce significant heat in a notebook. and they use alot of power. if we get hard drives that dont do this, maybe we can go back to notebooks without built in fans. one less moving/noisy part.

  • Well, Intel don't exactly "own" StrongARM. They have a version of the ARM architecture called StrongARM, which they acquired from Digital.

    As far as I know, StrongARM chips are not widely used. (I know only of a few PDA's.) The chips that are in most cell phones are other ARM implementations, which are manufactured by a variety of people under licence from ARM, which is purely an intellectual property/design company.

    ARM is an independent company, though I would not be surprised to discover that Intel owns some stock.

  • Yes, there are plenty of other low-power architectures, many of them well-developed, supported, and mature. Some of them, like ARM, come in high-speed versions.

    So why is Crusoe important? Because it can run x86 code, and hence Windows. That's the biggest reason.

    And of course, Crusoe is just damn cool...

  • Code morphing is just the buzzword, to distinguish these things from other processors. Nobody is gonna want to swap in and out different microcode between applications. Odds are these things will be strapped down tight executing x86 code for the entire life of the part.

    I mean, really. These are just FPGA chips with fancy marketing bolted on (**). Without Linus Torvalds in a glass display case in the lobby of corporate headquarters, nobody would even be paying attention to Transmeta.

    (** and a few patents to make it seem special. Oh, that's right. We're supposed to hate companies that patent things....)

  • That's not funny.
  • I think the best thing would be able to run any binary from any other processor with the same processor. Having never studied enough about ram electronics I can't comment on embeddibility but that might just be good for it too.
  • This is off-topic, but I'm curious why no one has ever mixed together a KVM switch, a Mac mainboard and a PC mainboard in the same case with a very basic windowmanager like you describe which would allow you to have both systems running at the same time sharing the same screenspace. It wouldn't quite work as well as we'd like (no drag and drop between windows, etc) but it would solve a lot of the cross-platform problems.

    Hell, I'd settle for a KVM switch with a really basic windowing system or video tricks built into it -- it'd be nice to tile a scrunched version of four displays onto one 21" display, especially when you're trying to type obscure text from one system into another and have to switch displays constantly.

  • Funny. When I try to browse that link you sent, all my IE 5.0 on Windows 2000 does is pop up an error message.

    Maybe I'll have to browse it tomorrow at work in Netscape on the Solaris box in the lab (using Exceed, of course, the ultimate window manager).
  • I've only actually read this on a couple of places online (one of them being Slashdot), but I think it answers your "why doesn't IBM announce things 2 or 3 years before their ship date?" question. The answer is that, a long time ago, when the earth's crust was cooling and computers used 640k RAM (maybe more recent than that. Don't remember the exact date), IBM controlled the computer world. Basically, everything that was anything was IBM. People complained, the government waded in, and an antitrust suit was launched. One of the penalties IBM got slapped with was not being able to "pre-announce" products.

    Look what a productive and friendly company they've turned into. Now, we can just hope the current lawsuit does the same to Microsoft.

    Note that this is completely from memory, and all data was gathered through online sources. So if its wrong, don't hesitate to correct me.

  • George Soros is indeed a generous philanthropist having donated billions of dollars to third-world countries and Russia. Get a clue. Vish
  • WWW is the mark of the beast!

    So get off the Internet.

  • Clue not needed, the only time I've _ever_ heard of Soros is to do with the accusations that he sells down currencies, he's basically regarded as a "not-nice person" here in the Pacific, especially in Malaysia, Indonesia and here in New Zealand. Currency speculators tend to be dirty words in small currency countries. Especially since a billion dollars being suddenly pulled from your currency has a drastic effect on its value, and interest rates.

    Of course, he may have done several philanthropic acts, but that doesn't mean I've heard of them. All I ever hear about is people accusing him of destroying national economies by selling their currencies short.

    For example:
    Billionaire George Soros, well known for his speculative plays in global currency markets, denies that his philanthropic foundation and currency speculation business are linked in an attack on Southeast Asian currencies in retaliation for Burma's admission into the region's trade group. - July 24, 1997 AP-Dow Jones.

    So, who's the victim of spin? :)

    A little search on the net does show several foundations with the Soros name, I didn't go much further. It seems he does like democracy, which is a good thing.

  • 64 times as fast a computing experience? At least... using the same software.

    That's the whole point. You're not using the same software. At least I'm not.

    Now where did I leave that copy of Word 1.1 for Windows...

    Kevin Fox
  • After Crusoe Transmeta's next chip will have only one transistor and implement the rest through software.

    Ever get the impression that your life would make a good sitcom?
    Ever follow this to its logical conclusion: that your life is a sitcom?
  • Hmm... I'll go download them. Where are this LinModem drivers ?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    some of these technologies :-)

    You mean, like the:
    • Diamond-based hard drive (extremely durable, you can whack at the internal platter and you won't break it),
    • Ion series Motherboard, communicating via a physical phenomina known as streamed ion electical connection, virtually eliminating the necessity for physical internal cabling (ide/scsi) inside the computer,
    • Tesla type AC power modulator, eliminating the need for power cords (instead you have a power port connecting to the power input for the device),
    • Laser memory containers, firing miniature lasers through thousands of aligned sulfer tubes, using power offsets to modify kilobytes of memory instantaniously (Although these are only in beta; we've had problems because the sulfer would explode during repeated memory access, because of heat buildup. We're redesigning the memory cartridge to have cooling devices and/or a fan under it.)
    • Crash-proof processing. Details are under tight security, but for some reason it uses an onboard non-violate scalable cache.
    • Hardware based HTML rendering (for specialty devices only, actually does screen writes based on being given some header information and the raw HTML, upgradable via an onboard memory zap), and to top it off,
    • Holographic Memory: Using twelve lazers inside a 5" high and 3" radius metal cylinder, filled with frozen sulfer, you can read and write to the polarity of any position in a three dimensional space. The 5"x3" cylinder can process about ten megabytes simulatiously, with about a terabyte of RAM in total. Production versions will be smaller and compatible with either standard issue RAM slots, or a new IBM memory board. Again, this is having problems with sulfer heating up and shifting position due to the heat from the lasers. Our design team is edging toward using liquid nitrogen to cool it, but it would cost quite a bit.
    Those are just some guesses, possibly based on the tax returns filed by IBM Corporation (you know those are public record? :) Maybe I'm just dreaming that a company could come up with those. But they look pretty good. I couldn't think of anything better, still being realistic.
  • ...OS/9

    (lameness filter bypass, please ignore)

    Ever get the impression that your life would make a good sitcom?
    Ever follow this to its logical conclusion: that your life is a sitcom?
  • I have an elderly (365X) Thinkpad and I LOVE IT. It doesn't have the funky DSP, it doesn't get hot, it just works and works well. Built like a tank, and the guts are easy to get to with the flip-up keyboard.

    The only thing I would change on "Little Blue" would be to have a swappable (you have to shut down first, not hot-swappable) hard drive instead of the bolted down drive. You can do that with a 360 and a few other models even older than the 365. It came with a 1GB HD and I have a 4.3 in there now. It would be kewl to be able to swap that 4.3GB drive (Windows95, don't ask) for that 1GB with Linux on it. As it is, that 1GB drive is just sitting in a static bag inside a padded mailer in a drawer in my desk.
  • The government smacked them a while back and forbade them to pre-announce any product.
  • It was the "PowerMac 6100 Dos Compatible"

    It had a PowerPC 601/60Mhz on the motherboard and a 486DX/66Mhz on a Nubus card. It had minimal support for cutting and pasting between environments and you couldn't run them 'picture in picture' but instead used a hot-key combination to switch the monitor card from the Mac to the PC and back. You didn't have to reboot between them, but you couldn't really use them 'simultaneously' either.

    It was useful for a niche (Schools actually got a lot of them), but nowadays a G3 with VirtualPC would be significantly faster than the 486DX. Another huge disadvantage was that the two instances couldn't use the same ram. You had to have extra SIMMs on the PC NuBus card (and that was when 16 megs cost $300!)

    Kevin Fox
  • by MBed ( 33001 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:58PM (#1023519)
    There is an excellent document entitled The Technology Behind Crusoe(tm) Processors describing the Crusoe's unique software/hardware hybrid available at usoe/download/pdf/crusoetechwp.pdf []. It details how a simple, custom VLIW-like core is combined with a software "code morphing" layer to produce an out-of-order execution unit which is far more sophisticated than than current hardware designs (like the P6 architecture).
  • by marick ( 144920 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:59PM (#1023520)
    The key to lower heat output is lower power consumption. The Crusoe accomplishes this in the following ways:

    1. By performing scheduling and the like in software, the Crusoe has far fewer transistors (read ~1/4) than a PIII or Athlon. Hence, lower power consumption.

    2. In addition, Crusoe has a power management "system" that actually lowers the clock speed whenever less speed is needed. All chips should do that, but they don't. And it doesn't slow down memory access at all, since the bottleneck there is not the processor clock speed. This technology is referred to as LongRun. Here's a quote from Transmeta:

    "In a mobile setting, most conventional x86 CPUs regulate their power consumption by rapidly alternating between running the processor at full speed and (in effect) turning the processor off. Different performance levels can be obtained by varying the on/off ratio (the "duty cycle"). However, with this approach, the processor may be shut off just when a time-critical application needs it. This can result in glitches, such as dropped frames during movie playback, that are perceptible (and annoying) to a user.

    In contrast, the TM5400 can adjust its power consumption without turning itself off - instead, it can adjust its clock frequency on the fly. It does so extremely quickly, and without requiring an operating system reboot or other slow and involved OS or BIOS operation. As a result, software can continuously monitor the demands on
    the processor and dynamically pick just the right clock speed (and hence power consumption) needed to run the application - no more and no less - so no power is wasted. Since the switching happens so quickly, it is not noticeable to the user.

    Finally, the Code Morphing software can also adjust the Crusoe processor's voltage on the fly (since at a lower operating frequency, a lower voltage can be used). Because power varies linearly with clock speed and by the square of the voltage, adjusting both can produce cubic reductions in power consumption, whereas conventional CPUs can adjust power only linearly. For example, assume an application program only requires 90 percent of the processor's speed. On a conventional processor, throttling back the processor speed by 10 percent cuts power by 10 percent, whereas under the same conditions, LongRun power management can reduce power by almost 30 percent (0.903 = 0.73) - a noticeable advantage!"

    For more information I highly recommend everybody to read "The Technology Behind Crusoe(TM) Processors".

    Available at: soetechwp.pdf
  • Transmeta's answered that question several times.

    The thing is, the current breed of chips from transmeta are designed, that is, the hardware is designed, to be able to emulate x86.

    Not to say they couldn't come up with a new one that can pretend to be PPC as well, but it sounds like an awful lot of work for such a small market.

  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @06:19PM (#1023522) Homepage
    Speed and memory both seem to follow Moore's law*, but batteries haven't doubled in capacity in a decade, and longer before that, and power consumption has similarly been slow to come down.

    These are both things that will be used if they're available. Like processor speed and memory, the raw figures double, but your computing experience isn't 64 times as fast as it was in 1991, even if your modem is.

    It'll either be a long time before your laptop will run easily on a battery for a day, or it'll be a breakthrough product/configuration, not a steady improvement.

    *Moore's law actually originally said the number of transistors on a chip would double every year. This was stretched to 18 months a decade later to fit the data, then applied to processor speed, price (inverse), and memory, whenever it seemed nifty to do so.

    Kevin Fox
  • this is incorrect. They made macs which had PCs on PCI cards. Hitting command-return would switch between the PC's video display (hooked via a special connector to the mac's monitor) and the mac's video display. The keyboard and mouse input would automatically switch over, and you could cut and paste between them. The 486/66 was just as fast as a PC with a 486/66, and the mac side was a PowerPC 601 at 66MHz as well. They made other PC Compatible versions, up through the 4400/200 I think which had a P133 on it's PC PCI card.
  • precent a procesor from using an instruction or ability if it's already in silicon? And if they don't actually do what they claim won't people drop them like a hot rock?
  • I'm all for technological advancement, and I really, really hope that 20 years from now, my laptop will run all month on a single charge. Heck, I'd be happy if I just didn't have to carry a spare battery on a coast-to-coast flight.

    However, the various technologies that go into laptop power management certainly haven't obeyed Moore's Law so far. Case in point: my laptop from 8 years ago gobbled up batteries as quickly as my current model. Reducing CPU power consumption is nice, especially for devices where the CPU is the big consumer (i.e. all those "network appliance" type of applications). For a typical notebook, the bigger gains will come when better technology is developed for power consumption of LCDs, HDDs, CD-ROMS, etc, and for the battery itself. This has been a slow process so far.

    I'm not throwing away my second battery just yet.
  • I dunno. Did he say that ? No.

    I suspect the Crue's are not faster than even the low-end Celerons. If that is not true, I'd like to see spec95 benchmark results which transmeta, of course, did not post on their site

  • by Zoyd ( 13778 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @09:43PM (#1023527)
    It just seems that by the time this comes out, Intel will already have much faster

    And don't forget, lower-power-consumption chips. Check it out:

    "[Paul Otellini, co-executive vice president at the Intel Architecture Group, in Santa Clara, Calif.] reviewed Intel's ongoing investments in mobile processors, including a demonstration of a 500MHz Mobile Pentium III that operates at less than 1 watt of power, which Intel expects to ramp to 1GHz in the near future. Intel hopes the chip will be ready this summer...."

    Intel eyes Internet as next frontier to cross. (Company Business and Marketing) Dan Briody
    InfoWorld May 1, 2000 v22 i18 p5
    Web version:
    Friday, Apr. 28, 2000 []
  • Actually, the original doubling time was 24 months. Of course, not everything follows this. (just look at hard drives). There's exponential growth everywhere in the computer industry, each niche seems to have its own doubling rate. The nifty effect of that is that some technologies overtake other technologies, because what once was slow and low-capacity may outpace development of whatever we're using now.
  • Amiga, (way ahead of its time yet again *grin*) has had something like this for the past 3 years.

    The Siamise (SP?) system allows for an Amiga to share resources with a PC system in the same box and uses SCSI to connect the two motherboards. I seem to recall that both win9x and Linux were supported. PC apps could be displayed on the Amiga workbench and likewise amiga apps on the PC partner. This does not really allow the systems to share all resources though. For that consider the Acorn RiscPC.

    Acorn produced a system in the early-mid 90s (spring 93 i think but it may well have been 94) which provided a dual headded processor bus capable of supporting not only the native ARM chips but a second processor of practicaly any architecture which would have full use of the same resources of the host. Alas only x86 processor cards were ever produced (At the launch there were many wild suggestions of CRAYs on the second processor bus and for a while PPC looked like it would turn up...) but these allowed windows to run, well crawl ;)

    Other issues with the RiscPC architecture limited the system, 16MHz memmory bus, 2MB video ram, no PCI (although ISA cards could be bridged to from the native podule bus). So Acron is no more but I still use my RiscPC (now with StrongARM) if ever i need to do serious work, the UI simply runs rings arrond anything else out there (belive me i've used my fair share.) and there is no better wordprocessor than TechWriter (think WYSIWYG TeX with full AntiAliased fonts) :)
  • Considering the amount of money IBM will be saving on the proccessor cost, do you think they'll send those savings back to the consumer? The Thinkpad brand has always been so expensive, I'm not too sure what to expect. A sub-$1000 thinkpad(with activematrix) running slackware would be so super cool.
  • What on earth is wrong with IBM ?

    Sure they have some press releases coming out but generally it's just "Ohh we have this cool thing working now. Go buy it". Why can't they be like other companies that announce products 2 or 3 years before the planed ship date?

    IBM lately has been delivering on it's promises on time and quickly. So far the only thing wrong in IBM's "Linux Roadmap" is that the Thinkpads haven't had the broad level of Linux support I would like. Sure some models run flawlessly but most of them need a PCMCIA modem and some simply have broken sound or even video in extreme cases.

    Apart from that they are doing pretty damned well. Now what are the odds that this box at ship time ( Christmas? ) will have the kind of seamless 100% compatible Linux support people have been screaming for? Sure some of them will ship with Windows but Knowing IBM they might say "If you use our approved Linux distributions your warranty is still valid".

    PS : The headline is the title of a song.
  • The new crusoe slogan []?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    To wit: "you a punk" should be: "you are a punk" or possibly more informally: "you're a punk" thank you for your time.
  • I'm curious as to what that link will do. When I'm ready for bed and done with everything else, I'll click on it and see what happens ;) hehe.
  • "Added performace"? I don't think performance is what you are looking for if you buy a transmeta chip. I believe they said their fastest model(700mhz I think) is roughly equivalent to a P3 550mhz or something. So if you want performance go buy a TBird, and if you want battery life go buy a Crusoe.
  • Actually, the PPC is no slouch when it comes to instruction count. In fact, if you take into account the AltiVec extensions in the G4, the PPC G4 actually has more instructions than the P3's. AltiVec is one hell of a monster.

    - Ed.
  • That Bill Gates quote appears to be an urban legend [].
  • Inside my Sun Ultra 5 at work lies a PCI card that contains a 400mhz AMD processor, 128MB ram, video, sound, USB, serial and parallel ports. Voila! A PC, which shares the same network connection the Sun uses.

    Plus I have sun's 21" monitor with the built-in A/B switch.

    So what you describe sorta exists, for the most part. Just have to hit the a/b switch (and hit a key to switch over the mouse/kb between the sun and pc) You can even cut and paste between the Sun and "PC".


  • Hmm are there any good references for beginning modern assembly language programming out there? Most of the stuff I see barely goes into 486+ instructions most of the time.
  • Suddenly the application is the OS...
    So much for cut and paste. (Or any more sophisticated inter-app communication.)
  • If they can alter code written for an Intel box, could they also potentially alter code for say a PPC prog, so you could run (real, not softPC) Windows and (real) Mac OS on the same machine? Some sort of double boot could be possible....

    That would be sweet.

  • by gunner800 ( 142959 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:03PM (#1023542) Homepage
    For the ultimate in perversity, how about a multiprocessor laptop? I vaguely recall reading that the Crusoes are physically smaller than portable P3s, so it might be doable.

    With the same power consumption, and at comparable cost (maybe?), as a P3 laptop, they could make a multiprocessor Crusoe system that blows away anything else out there.

    Or we could all go do things that aren't insane, but what fun would that be?

  • The real question is, is the added performance and durability going to be at a much higher price? Since "Crusoe", "Transmeta", and "Linux" are the hot new buzzwords, I'd be worried about over inflated price tags (even though Transmeta gave a rather low projected cost for the chip itself).
  • I can think of some (really) obvious advantages:
    • Linux support (no!)
    • Support for other platforms (would it be possible to use Crusoe's capabilities to write a software "translator" to run code from any chip?)
    • I won't have to buy another three battries when I get my ThinkPad so I can be sure to always have a spare.
    Anything else?
  • by h2odragon ( 6908 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:07PM (#1023545) Homepage
    I don't know about Linus, but here's Alan Cox on a Chip [].
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2000 @12:04AM (#1023547) Homepage
    Nope, Moore's law started out as doubling every one year, as quoted 25 years ago in The Mythical Man-Month [], and more recently in the Webopedia [].

    Kevin Fox
  • Surely the display on a laptop/webpad/whatever is actually the major power draw, or at least a highly significant one. Does anyone have any component level power consumption figures on a device with cpu, hdd, display and all the other neccessarys (can't see them taking a large share)?
    And what about the power efficiency of these devices, are they all running 90% efficient or 10% (and I'll let anyone else who wants to try and define efficient in these circumstances)?
  • by linuxonceleron ( 87032 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:11PM (#1023549) Homepage
    I guess I'm being skeptical here, but I won't buy into this whole Crusoe/Transmeta idea until I can sit at my breakfast table reading /. using wireless LAN. I think we are putting too much of a focus on this company simply because of Linus' involvement with them, which, while it may make Linux run better on the Crusoe chip, is not really that big of a deal. The entire webpad concept could be created right now using other lowpower chips such as the StrongArm, so what's the real need for the Crusoe, in an embedded system, you're not going to need 400+ Mhz of speed. It just seems that by the time this comes out, Intel will already have much faster, smaller die size chips that will blow it away for high speed work, and other low power chips such as StrongArm will continue to advance in technology as well.

  • I've been a thinkpad user for several years now. The 755CD is still my favorite for long trips due to it's fairly good power consumption and easily re-configurable ports. The DSP features have always worked well. Whith the new proposed chip and re-architecture, hopefully they will remove what I see as the Thinkpads worst feature. HEAT. The laptop gets unusually hot after an hour or so. With reduced power consumtion proposed in the new model, this should remove at least some of the heat thru better power management.

    Financing provided by America Online, Gateway, Compaq Computer, Sony and several others should prove to be a real shot in the arm for Transmeta. As recently as the beginning of the year, Wall street was conserned that although Transmeta seemed to have a good product line, their customer base was small and targeted in only niche markets. With a little luck the 88M will change all that and Transmeta can become a much larger player. So far, only relatively small companies such as S3 have announced that they will use Transmeta's processors in their Internet appliances. Today's investments indicate that the technology elite see a future for the company's chips. They seem to have taken a different approach to cloning Intel chips than have other companies, such as AMD or National Semiconductor. Transmeta relies on "code-morphing" to translate instructions an Intel chip can understand into instructions the Transmeta chip can understand. The method appears to be faster than traditional emulation if you can beleive the press releases, because the instructions, once translated, are stored for later use. Last January of February Intel released its SpeedStep chipset, Which supposedly run faster when plugged in but become more efficient with power when unplugged. I wonder if Transmeta incorporated this style technology with theirs. I wish them well, This has got to only be good for the average consumer, having another big player in the processor market brings prices down across the board.

  • by Vanders ( 110092 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2000 @12:20AM (#1023552) Homepage
    ...which provided a dual headded processor bus capable of supporting not only the native ARM chips but a second processor of practicaly any architecture...

    Acorn have been doing this sort of thing for a much longer time than 93/94. Anyone who remembers the Acorn BBC B/Master, may well remember a strange connector under the main unit marked "Tube". This was actually a bus connector for a co-pro. If i remember correctly, Z80 & 6502 units were both available, and this is back in the mid 80's.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Interesting point ... but it kindof goes against the whole idea of creating a product with a long battery life.

    Anyway, a SMP laptop ... over kill or what? you have to remember you'd need a smooth system bus, fast HD and memory bus ... which would eat into the power like nobody's business. It's not good slapping an extra processor in there unless the rest of the system is upto scratch.

    This reminds me of the SparcII laptops available, they retail for about $7000, total overkill.
  • IBM's constrained -- or was? -- by a consent agreement, parts of it dating back to 1956. They can't pre-announce in order to stifle competition.
  • When have IBM -- or Toshiba, Compaq -- laptops been cheap? A specialized, name-brand, and (usually) quality item will have a comparitively high cost, though there's [] to keep the resellers honest.
  • StrongArm is in use all over industry. The embedded market for ARM chips is exploding.

    And those little boxes Corel used to make are SA powered, with a Linux port running on them.

    And, of course Strong Arm runs NetBSD...
  • Someone with a better memory than I will surely fill in the details (please?), but Apple used to make a box which dual-booted Windows and MacOS. The thing had dual CPUs (Motorola and Intel) and needed to be rebooted to use one or the other. It was piggishly slow in both modes.

    The problem with the KVM-in-a-box idea is that both operating systems would expect to have the run of all bus-attached devices (sound cards, video cards, SCSI, whatever). To my knowledge, no one has ever come up with a good way to handle this kind of problem: modern computer designs can handle disks appearing and disappearing, and even SCSI attached devices, but not actual SCSI interfaces and whatnot.

    Actually, your last idea - a KVM adapter which does split-screen displays - is a great idea. I don't know if its been done already, but it should be, if only for the coolness factor.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    RISC is supposed to be Reduced Instructions

    It's reduced instruction set. You'll have 150 instructions instead of 500, but an operation requiring 100 instructions on a CISC chip may require 1000 instructions on a RISC (since each instruction does less work). This means the processor would need to read and translate more instructions when emulating a RISC chip. OTOH, there are less instructions (and they're relatively simple), so the emulation might be easier to program.

  • by Jason Pollock ( 45537 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:15PM (#1023570) Homepage

    That's the first time I've heard of him being called a "philanthropist". Most of the time everyone is acusing him of destroying countries' monetary systems.

    Jason Pollock
  • by Legerdemain ( 15898 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:16PM (#1023572)
    how much software is written for strong arm.. Specifically browsers and browser plugins?

    Answer this question and you will see the benefit of crusoe over other low power chips.
  • A nice small Transmeta VAIO Picturebook would be nice :)

    Or at least a 505 type series notebook... Preinstalled with Linux (with Sony support)... .... well i can dream cant I? :)
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Monday June 05, 2000 @05:19PM (#1023574) Homepage
    Use a system like VMware [], but with just a simple shared windowing system for the 'boot' OS, you could run windows, linux, MacOS, BeOS, and what have you at the same time, without one being a 'dominant' OS.

    Of course, the real beauty comes when you can download the instruction set for Playstation, PS2, Dreamcast, TiVo, or any other embedded system you care to and service all your computing needs with one box.

    Well, two if you count the handheld version with PalmOS, NewtonOS, LinuxCE, WAPOS, NokiaOS, etc.

    Suddenly the application is the OS...

    Kevin Fox
  • I have the same heat problem on several different thinkpads. The heat is so bad after an hour or so I usually power it off to let it cool. The new Transmeta chips, like the Intel ones are supposed to run cooler through more efficient power consumtion when on battery power
  • I would like to comment here that Transmeta has never (that I recall) said they would have the fastest chip on the block. If they have, they've certainly not been asserting it much. What they have said is that they will have comparable performance and flawless emulation at a dramatically lower current draw.

    Transmeta's goal isn't to bring you the most powerful chip around. Intel and AMD are both fighting to have that honor right now, and there's not much room for the little guy there. However, they do intend to have the best current-to-power ratio (I couldn't resist) and we've all seen how well they're doing. It's not like you can take the MediaGX chip seriously or anything.

    In summary, for anyone who's read this far down and still not gotten it, Crusoe isn't about SpecFP95. It's about wattage.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."