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Crusoe vs. Dell And Compaq 179

Boone^ writes "Yahoo! has an article from ZDNet News that details how Compaq and Dell are shying away from Crusoe notebooks 'for now.' " Basically it says that the performance isn't so hot, and consumers are gonna be burned by the hype of the first generation of Transmeta based laptops. But then again ... the battery life sure ain't a bad thing. Mentions that Hitachi notebooks might be shipping as early as October. Update: 06/28 09:37 by CT : here's some pictures of transmeta laptops.
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Crusoe vs Dell and Compaq

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  • When the two biggest computer manufacturers hesitate in adopting something like this it adds validity to something that many of us have been suspecting for quite some time. Namely that Linus' attachment to the Linux & Open Source communities has hurt Transmeta's chances of being taken seriously by big business.

    I'm not trying to start a flame war here, I just want to point out how the majority of people in the business community think. I spent three years working in purchasing for Gateway, and impression always takes precedence over reality. The impression most purchasing managers have of these communities is that of a bunch of bearded hippy hobbiests.

    Those who actually decide what goes into the systems being sold are not the elite gurus who respect the GNU model or writings from ESR. They are business and marketing school graduates. I'm working towards my MBA, and the opinions I often hear floated around the lecture halls are not very kind.

    Yes, this is the "image thing" again. Once again, please consider what I'm saying before you flame me!

    The Open Source community needs to work on it's image. People who are wearing Birkenstocks and haven't shaved in years do NOT go over very well in the board room. The word "free" is anathema to someone who is in business to make money. A penguin doesn't instill confidence in most stock investors.

    These issues have been brought up many times here before, and the poster is always ridiculed into silence, but I'm going to mention it again.

    Linux needs a strong marketing presence funded by capital (not free time). This needs to be handled by a professional marketing agency (not hobbiests). We need to work on our image if we wish to succeed.

  • Frankly, it sounds like Dell and Compaq are playing it smart. Let the other companies see if there is a demand AND take the heat for the slow speed* and then come out with laptops in about 6 months.

    Maybe Dell and Compaq have actually been watching the Sega vs. Nintendo saga (heheh "Sega Saga".. sorry) and have actually learned something from it, as opposed to, for example, Sega.

    In my opinion, being first is only important if you aren't an established company and you really need to make your mark and get your name out there. Otherwise, you'll put out a product, it will get press like, "What a great idea!! Too bad it's slow and clunky and ugly", and six months later, megacorporation X will do it right.

    In conclusion, the first person to put this out should be me. Personally. Mail venture capital to: P.O. Box 1784...
  • Is there some reason that LEDs (now that white ones are available and not *that* expensive) couldn't be used instead of flourescent lamps as the backlight in notebooks? Perhaps the quality of the light isn't quite as nice, and it might take quite a few (expensive) white LEDs in the case, but I would think the increased battery life would be worth it quickly. So what I want ;) is a transmeta web pad with an adequately large (12.1 XGA) screen lit with LEDs and running for 9 hours at a stretch ... eh? eh? sw
  • Why bother. We've already succeeded. Lack of interest from corporate America won't stop you or I from using Linux. Developers won't turn away from Linux in disgust when someone doesn't spend millions to advertise Linux in PC-Weekly.

    Keep in mind that success isn't measured in dollars and cents, or percentage of market share.

    Success is when somebody installs Linux and decides they like it.

  • 700 MHz == 700 million cycles/second

    But, an instruction can take more than one cycle to execute. It's difficult to predict exact amounts of instructions/second because of this. Soooo...your 7 million number was purely hypothetical, right? :)

  • No, it's not irrelevant, but apparently some big OEM makers think that the Crusoes give away too much in performance to be worth the reduction in power -- especially compared to the mobile chips that Intel recently announced, which claim to bring the power consumption right down to the same level as the Crusoe while still giving good performance. (Note that a lot of people here questioned Intel's claims, but didn't do the same for Transmeta, even though all they had were claims as well.) Just like when the Crusoes were announced, most people around here bought into it hook, line, and sinker, with hardly any skepticism at all. Now that some of the big boys are showing their disappointment with the Crusoe, a lot of people here still refuse to believe it and suggest that they're all being paid off by Intel. Be honest now, do you really think Crusoe would have so many apologists if it weren't for the simple fact that Saint Linus works for them?


  • After reading the article on ZDNet, I thought I might point out that the "truncated" lines you refer to are in fact headlines in the original article. Perhaps if you had had *your* coffee this morning, you'd have thought to look at the original article before picking nits. Just a thought. At any rate, trusting a news source whose name is "Yahoo" (as in "Some yahoo told me that Microsoft is filing a patent on binary notation.") seems to me kinda dumb.
  • ...was a great kernel, I used it for years on my 486 with slackware. It's still on there but I don't use it any more.

    The 1.x series was not as scary as some people think. Even the .99.x series was usable.
  • Admittedly their model looks really really sweet, but if I can't get it, then who cares :(

    It says something about not selling their notebooks in the US market on their site.

    http://w books/index.html []

    Are they available from some place that imports foreign laptops?
  • I must be an 'e-tard'. 2.8.1 does seem to have the newer Sparc backend, in direct contrast to my statement above. The short test I ran to check I forgot to compile with optimization, so obviously I saw bogus info. Moderate away. :-P

  • In my department we have a stack of misguided individuals that use their laptops for everything. They seem to think that the mhz is all that is important as far as application speed goes. Have you ever seen someone useing a laptop to do 3d engineering design? They hook a fullsized keyboard and mouse and screen onto it and pretend that they are running on a desktop PC. Oh they curse and swear and wait and wait and wait, and those poor laptop Hdd's grind away and blow there little brains out trying to cope with huge applications. It seems to me that instead of worrying about how fast the proccessor is we should be worrying more about I/O, Memory, Harddisk speed etc. THOSE are the main performance killers in Laptops today.
  • Crusoe are not powerfull enough for laptops?!?

    What are you doing with your laptop? Crunching numbers? I would recommend you use a dual CPU workstation for that...

    People who use laptops do it because they travel a lot, they are mostly typing stuff in planes, making presentations... What kind of speed do you need for that? Do you think Crusoe is not fast enough for Powerpoint and Word?

    I for one, would like to have one to be able to play Mame and programm some Java or C++ on the move (being regularly stuck for hours in planes, I will buy one of these so I have something to do).


  • For chissakes, the G3 gets by on 5 anyway, but the Apple does not have significantly more battery life than a comprable P3.

    You're kinda right, but they do get to use the same processors in the laptops as in the desktops, so where this shows is in the laptop performance.
  • lol! Hehe, I wasn't trying to say, "oh, look at the funny lookin' man, Mamma," I was just pointing out the interesting (and, I thought, sort of bizarre) little quirks about this...

    Heh, guess people have different senses of humor...

    Also, thanks for the flame. I love it when people call me dumb for trying to make someone laugh. ;-)

  • It is possible to get adequate laptop performance and battery life

    If you can find a big enough wheelbarrow to carry the car batteries and refrigeration plant.

  • I'd like to see a Linux Crusoe notebook and a gcc compiler that can generate native Crusoe code. That would be cool, I think.

    I don't.

    First of all, gcc is not as good as you think.

    Second, if you bypass Code Morphing(tm) you also bypass all of the run-time optimizations. This is definitely a loose.

    Now, what I would like to see is front end for a nicer ISA than x86, but since there is limited market for that at best I'm not holding my breath.

  • I don't think that Dell has a fear of Intel as such, they're probably just playing it safe. It's the old "Nobody ever got fired for buying ." First it happened with IBM, now Microsoft and Intel. Dell isn't scared of Intel, if anything, it should be the other way around. Intel should be afraid that Dell, one of its largest customers, and one of the few that remains Intel-only, would switch to AMD or Transmeta for its desktop processors.
  • There is no 'A' in definitely; also, in intel's pocket or no, I don't like Gateway's product. I usually don't like the way the machine is configured on shipping and reinstalling is -never- a smooth process (I'm not entirely convinced what they send you on CD is the same as what they ship on the harddrive.) I've always been happy with Dell machines... well, as happy as you can be with a windows machine. (I only get these prebuilt winsystems for work, of course, at home I build my own Linuxbox.)
  • Actually, how fast have the PC emulators gotten? I never tried VirtualPC before.

    My completely subjective feeling is that VPC on a G4/450 is roughly as snappy as a P166, maybe a P233. Good enough for everything I need it for.
  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:23AM (#970818)
    In other breaking news:
    New desktop PC's out-perform laptops
    North Dakota expects colder weather than Texas this year
    Gerneralissimo Francisco Franco is still dead

    Of course Compaq and Dell are going to tell you that this chip is crap. They are not using it. The companies that are using it are just as sure to tell you that the chip is an "Intel Killer" or something.

  • Dynamo has an advantage: it was working on code compiled for the same processor: there wasn't any "translation" from one ISA to another.

    I'm not convinced that the cost of the translation /adaptation won't offset the benefit of the recompilation.

    Remenber when Apple came with the PPC, there were several 80x86/680xx interpretor which came along, and each time they came with the same argument that they could use the additional runtime information to be better than the original CPU and each time they fail to deliver.

    Java is another example of hype where proponents say that interpreted code can be faster than compiled code. So why is TowerJ (a compiler for Java), is always the best in benchmarks ?
  • 'scuse me? I sure as heck *can* tell the difference between my P2-400 and P3-600 machines... I do 3d mapping work from time to time, and what brings the P2 to its *knees* is smooth and flowing on the P3. Besides that, my compile times are about 1/2 of what they were on the P2. Just because Joe Average playing xbill won't notice the speed increase doesn't mean that none of us will. Regards, -mh. The "average user" is kind of a myth... as requirements keep skyrocketing while technology advances and software gets more and more capable (and complex), processor speed and capabilities are just as valid concerns as disk space and memory. How many people do you know who are still doing productive work on a 286?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A large chunk of Transmeta's power savings come from the simple fact that people don't use their processors most of the time. They slow the processor down until the idle instruction becomes a no-op. The lower the execution frequency, the less power drawn.

    They have some nice demos of DVD players, etc. If you've seen the execution profile, you'll realize that even this doesn't use much sustained CPU performance. The necessary speed comes in 30fps bursts... And consider how you use your machine, even desktop, for most of the time. If what you do depends heavily on interaction, you'll need performance only in bursts. No, Transmeta chips aren't going to be great for scientific computing. They aren't targetting that market.

    And the dynamic compilation gives them the ability to improve `hardware' speed through a software upgrade. No user-side changes necessary. Given some of their hiring decisions (including folks from UCI), I don't doubt there will be continued performance improvements for all their hardware for quite a while. The wonderful part is that someone who bought their physical hardware initially will still find some improvements the year after they bought it. They won't need to drool over the newer processors, but rather flash their BIOS to have a good chunk of the newer processor.

  • Business execs (the ones who need laptops) don't do much more than type papers. Why do they care if their computers are a tad slower than high-end chips?

    One reason: bragging rights. It's always the suits who want to run all the fancy CPU-intensuve crapola to show off, so they're the ones who 'need' to have the latest and greatest. They also don't pey out of pocket for their machines, they usually lease, and it counts as a business expense.


    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • A bit offtopic, but could someone explain what goes on with Yahoo hosting other peoples' news reports?

    Mike Roberto ( [mailto]) -GAIM: MicroBerto
  • I wish someone would mod your post up! Unfortunately even though I have mod points right now, I'm in this topic already (obviously since you replied to me).

    What distro of Linux do you use on your iBook? I think it's a really sweet little notebook. I thought about the graphite one because it is very classy. But, is 66mHz and a better color worth about $250? I actually like the blueberry (or whatever) colored one.

  • by Christopher B. Brown ( 1267 ) <> on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @10:44AM (#970825) Homepage
    • Linux isn't yet, by itself, a good enough reason for the existence of a laptop product.
    • Unless you can get economies of scale from selling lots of 'em, the problem of low volume will result in high prices.
    • No WordPerfect, and limited maturity of web browsers.

    I'm still watching for the first release of OpenPPC [] hardware; it too is not expected to be inexpensive. TotalImpact [] cards sound rather cool, but are apparently expensive enough that the vendor isn't willing indicate any pricing information on their web site; reportedly about $1K per CPU.

    The "pricing structure" behind the PPCs just doesn't seem suited to laptop deployment that occurs "because they're low powered."

  • by anon1209 ( 50971 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:08AM (#970826)
    Laptops have always been lower performance than desktops. (IMHO) Why should this be an issue now?
  • The Open Source community is structured in a way that it need never issue stock, depend on market acceptance or wear brown shoes.

    The most vital thing we have to offer this universe is our true selves. Many individuals manufacture a fake package which they seem to think represents what the external world desires of them, and even become so attached to this package that they think it is a true manifestation their inner selves.


  • No, I'd be fine issuing Crusoe laptops, but the market always gravitates towards having the most powerful processors available. The Intel chips that can outperform the Crusoe (though not power consumptionwise) will be in laptops by the time the Crusoe laptops are selling. That's what I mean. Everybody is going to want to run Windows 2000, which has features that are a pain in the ass even on my 733 at work. Add to that the additional bog from the crap that most users load on their computers and the high res screensavers that come with 2000, and suddenly your Crusoe starts to be treading on thin ice.

    Also, this chip runs pretty darn cool and on low power. If you can pop a chip that powerful into a palm device, why would you prefer to put it in a huge laptop? If I can carry a computer as powerful as a laptop in my pocket, why would I want to carry it in a briefcase?

  • Do you think it could be because of fear of the big bad..Intel? Dell still doesn't carry Athlons, i think they are afraid of Intel. When are companies going to pick the best chip for the job instead of trying not to offend the mothership?
  • Namely, that the only reason that this company has gotten so much press at all is because of all the Linus-worshippers out there who have hyped this chip up to unrealistic levels. It uses a concept that thus far is unproven (and actually looks like it doesn't work well at all so far, by the reactions of IBM, Compaq, and Dell) yet some people around here act as if it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Seriously -- how many people around here would ever talk about, unless it was to dismiss them as toys, webpads if Microsoft or Apple came out with them instead of Transmeta aiming for that market? But, since Linus works there *cue angelic harp music*, it's gotta be wonderful.

    Sorry, but some of you guys set yourself up for your own letdown by buying into the hype and now are looking to point fingers elsewhere. You should be angry at Transmeta for playing you like a string violin by hiring Linus, not at companies who can't afford to base product lines on disproven hype. I won't say I told you so (even though I did), but in the future you should always take marketing hype with more than a few grains of salt, whether Linus Torvalds is a part of the company or not.


  • I'd love to get a Crusoe iBook if Apple ever decided to use Transmeta's chips. A neat little notebook like the iBook would be great with a long battery life... especially with a DVD-ROM & wireless NIC in it.

  • I think you'll find that 90% of the processor's power is spent in busywait loops waiting for you to do something. That number is probably pretty low. This is why LongRun is such a neat idea.

    You just don't need the cycles, 95% of the time. And when you do need them, the chip switches gears and runs faster.

  • For greater clarity, I think your second sentence should have a comma after the word "shipping".
    You're right, I slipped up on that one.
    Your use of the ellipsis in your last unparenthesized sentence is non-standard and really should be avoided.
    I disagree; this is not a formal environment, and common usages that emulate speech patterns should be acceptable.
    It appears as if the "Grammar Police" monicker is a bit inaccurate. Perhaps you should have chosen "Spelling Police".
    You're right again, with this point; unfortunately, 'The Spelling Police' and 'Spelling Police' were both already taken. In addition, another poster had referred to me, while I was still only an Anonymous Coward, as 'The Grammar Police', so I took the name on as a lark.

    The Grammar Police
  • by B-B ( 169492 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:10AM (#970834)
    This supposed GREAT laptop battery life you will get with the Crusoe, but I am not buying it. The processor is ONE component, among many. Even the P3 is not the biggest hog in a laptop.

    Open Ports, the LCS, the DVD/CD and the HDD all burn MUCH more power. So BFD, even f the Crusoe gets by on 1/30 the power of a P3, it will not translate into more than an extra 1/2 hour. For chissakes, the G3 gets by on 5 anyway, but the Apple does not have significantly more battery life than a comprable P3.

    I am rooting for it. But like with Apple and Linux and other techs, there is more hype than substance.

  • FYI the Commodore VIC-20 used the Motorola 6502
    The Comodore 64 use the Motorola 6510.

  • I'd like to see a Linux Crusoe notebook and a gcc compiler that can generate native Crusoe code. That would be cool, I think.
  • Agree,

    And I love every minute ot it ;)

    I still bleed in 6 colors.
  • It shouldn't. It will run Be right?
  • Compaq has always been a front runner. Whether it be Intel or Microsoft, Compaq has always gone out of its way to placate the giants. Sure, Compaq has invested in Transmeta. But who wouldn't. Transmeta, as an idea is great. Compaq has never been a pioneer and will only move to Transmeta once they are certifiably successful. Guess that's why they're losing market share like crazy.

    IBM is taking the lead on the Crusoe. As such, they'll reap the rewards
  • The reason that the preformance of the transmeta chip is lower because it has the code morphing software on it. It can run x86 solaris alpha and maybe ppc im not sure. Thats why it has to convert the code to its own natural code then it flys. Personally I rather have a chip that uses less power and can run software made for other platforms. With some work I bet you could quad boot that sucker or even more for you os loveing pleasure! :)
  • Frankly, it sounds like Dell and Compaq are playing it smart. Let the other companies see if there is a demand AND take the heat for the slow speed* and then come out with laptops in about 6 months.

    *Not that the Crusoe is really slow. But a lot of people are going to be confused about MHz for a while after these come out.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone else noticed that Crusoe comes bundled with closed source, proprietary software that you, the lowly consumer, are not allowed to read, replace or modify? I'm talking about the interpreter and emulation engine shipped in ROM and automatically loaded by the processor during boot. If that software were open source then people could do cool things like target GCC for the bare-bones Crusoe chip or hack a new interpreter for Java byte code. But it's not. It's closed-source, proprietary, if-you-read-this-code-we-will-sue-you software.

    I personally am not opposed to all closed source software on principle, but it pisses me off to see clueless slashdot weanies bash everyone else in the world for having closed source software but then give Transmeta a break. Apparently selling closed source software is okay as long as you hire a Linux guru to write it.

    I personally would love to own a Transmeta laptop or webpad (screw performance -- I need battery life), but I am a bit of a security freak and I don't like the fact that the Transmeta interpreter could accidentally or maliciously compromise my entire system, and I have no way of examining it to see if it is safe.

  • Just the same I don't know of anyone who does any serious heavy computing on a laptop.

    I'm a software engineer working on the OS for a major computer manufacturer. I do all my development work on my laptop, whether I am travelling or not. It has plenty of power - I can rebuild the entire OS from source on my machine.

    Perhaps you are looking at the wrong sort of laptop?

  • It seems to me that Dell and Compaq are completely missing the point of the Transmeta chips. All the portable chips lose performance by being made for portable use. But the point of the Crusoe is to lose a *little* bit more performance and in exchange get a huge increase in battery life.

    Personally I'd kill to have a laptop that performs like say, a PII300 but has 7+ hrs of battery life [that isn't an apple :) ] as opposed to a PIII 700 that only has 2.5hrs of life. I don't use laptops for that much CPU intensive work. They aren't designed for it. They're designed to get some work done while travelling [Ok, some games too] A 2hr battery is useless on a 6hr cross-country trip.

    I personally think Transmeta has a huge winner with this chip. Sure future versions will probably increase performance but since what they provide NOW is totally adequate, anything more is just icing on the cake.
    And of course that's not even considering the cool web-pad like devices that can be made with them... :)

    Hitachi, IBM, NEC or Fujitsu will almost definitely get my $ when these laptops are available.

  • did anyone else notice that this is the first time Transmeta has been spelled on /. with a lower-case 't'? we're getting downright vulgar in our talking about them, they must be mainstream

  • It's natural that some companies will be slow to embrace new brands coming out. Compaq started using AMD chips, but only in their lower-end models until the Athlons came out. Dell still doesn't ship AMD machines. I don't see Transmeta being in trouble though, with big names like IBM, NEC and Hitachi on board.

    For Compaq and Dell, there's probably also an issue of how the name looks to Joe Consumer. There's still a lot of people out there who won't look at a computer unless it has "Intel Inside" pimping on the case. If Crusoe kicks as much butt as we all think it will, though, it won't take long for everyone else to jump on the bandwagon.
  • Emulation is getting better...slowly (no pun intended). Part of the problem is SoftWindows/Virtual PC are trying to add functionality (like ethernet/dhcp) into the Virtual machine at the same tiem they try to improve performance.

    On my G3 300, I can emulate (about) a P2-166...with virtual memory turned off and gving it 128 MB of RAM.

  • From some insider information that has been collected, Transmeta is gonna take atleast next five years to be able to compete in the market. They have been living all along with some linux hype and been riding the same waves that VAlinux and Redhat did before the market realised that Linux exactly isnt delivering as it promised. Ever since the market crumbled, Transmeta also took a backseat and has been whispering on the sidelines for sometime now. I believe it wont be long before they are either shouldered by Intel or some other chip company or be gobbled up by one of them. Transmeta would sooner or later realise that its playing in to a huge market which separates reality from hype sooner or later.

    When in doubt - RTFM
  • by Anonymous Coward
    An iBook /does/ get 5-6 hours of continuous usage at a very respectable clock rate. This is due to low power consumption of the G3s, a large (and heavy) battery, and some insane power management hacks in the OS. Hopefully OS X will be able to achieve similar powersave performance.
  • Are they building machines with the Crusoe chip and benchmarking them, using machines built by transmeta or just pulling numbers out of the air? I don't mean to sound like I'm slamming them for not building around a new chip, but without proper benchmark numbers theres no way to tell if one brand of chip is faster/slower than another.

    BTW: Don't bother posting MHz numbers. A Pentium II @ 450Mhz != PPC G4 @ 450MHz, its what you do with the cycles that counts

  • So I'm reading this here "news article" on Yahoo, and I notice a couple o' peculiarities.

    First, there are a few lines that appear to be truncated, as if the editor didn't have any coffee this morning.

    But what really made me snicker was this line, quoted verbatim from near the bottom of the article.

    Notebooks ain't all

    That's it; no period, no ending, just the single crystalline thought "Notebooks ain't all"

    Which kind of makes me want to go run right now and change my sig.

  • Yup. I didn't write that to be 10000% accurate, just to make the show why a 700MHz != another 700MHz chip.

  • Plus, you eliminate the advantages of any optimization that the Code Morphing layer delivers.

    and dynamo from HP showed us that these gains are not inconsiderable. Infact, it is likely the case that native/sub-morphing code would run slower than interpreted/morphed code.

  • Transmeta showed off its cool-running TM 5400 Crusoe chip for notebook PCs at its "Gilligan's Island"-style booth

    Crusoe? Robinson Crusoe? Anyone? Anyone? Island? Company theme?

    Fucking GILLIGAN?

    It just bugs me when people overlook symbolism as blatant as the Crusoe thing because some inane pop-culture reference like freaking Bob Denver vehicles overshadow literary references.
  • Honestly, aside from the engineers no one in our company needs the performance of even the lowest end of Dell's CPU offerings (500mhz).

    We habitually buy the cheapest CPU's we can get, a little extra RAM than usual, a moderately sized HD, and the vast majority of our userbase is happy. No one's office software comes close to maxing out their CPU, and even the lowest end systems now have respectable 2D video performance well capable of marketing presentations. I wish we had the option of buying even slower-CPU systems for a reasonable discount but alas, chips only get so cheap...

    Unless you're a designer/engineer/scientist/gamer, you're not scratching the capability of the CPU, and if you are you need to kill winamp, your software dvd player, SETI, and l0pthcrack and get back to work :P

    Before you flame me keep in mind I'm talking about normal corporate users, not enthusiasts.

  • But you can use a PowerBook to warm your hands with in the winter. :)

  • Its not about performance... they can be no way this is about performance. Compaq, and Dell stick cheap IDE hardrive low memory, crappy sound cards, want to mention performance, what is up with the 2MB vid cards on most laptops? I know laptopss displays are only so big, but what about port replicators, and external monitors. PErformance my ass. These companies are going with Transmeta becuase if they do then they will probably lose their special Intel exclusive partnership. I mean really I have never been sitting at my laptop and had to say, damn P2300 this thing is soooos low, I mean..jezz I have to wait .00004 seconds for Word200 to spellcheck my 200pg document.

    On the contrary I am usually sitting their waiting for the underpowered harddrive to slowly bring word, then to wait 15 seconds while I alt-tab to Netscape, and have to yank the entire app out of swap.

    Most people dont use laptop for quake3, and Starcaft runs fine on a P200, linux will fly on a P200, (enlightenment wont if you the eye-candy on though, not to mention efm ). Anyway my point is that you could replace all of those P2s. and P3s laptop cpus with a P166 and 95% of people would even notice the tiniest burp. Only power-geeks only *really* notice stuff about that. So Dell, and Compaq are blowing crap out their asses again. Same crap, they want to keep the benefits that Intel provides ala M$ style. If you dont like that then its easy buy a Sony or Toshiba they both make nice laptops for ususally better prices than dells.

  • by slothbait ( 2922 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:37AM (#970869)
    First, I'm going to agree that writing "native" code for Crusoe doesn't really make sense. Vital pieces of architecture are implemented in low level software, so if you bypass that layer, you are left with an incomplete microprocessor. Plus, your compiler backend would only be useful for that *particular* rev of the Crusoe. That layer of abstraction allows Transmeta to reorganize their architecture far more easily than other chip makers who have to worry about compatibility at the silicon level. I have no doubt that they will be using that advantage.

    But I want to ask about another part of your post.

    I keep hearing people snicker at gcc, but I haven't heard any solid arguments as to why it's "not that great". How is it inferior to other compilers? Does it not optimize as well? Is it less efficient generating code on certain architectures? Is it not as ANSI compliant as we might like?

    My experiences with gcc have always been pleasant, and I use it instead of a vendor's system compiler whenever I can. Perhaps I'm biased since I've encountered way too many Sun's that still use ancient, pre-ANSI C compilers. No doubt, well maintained system are in better shape, but I'm wondering how much better than gcc they really are.

    Please fill me in.

  • Your beefy 750 Mhz Pentium III has a set of opcodes in it that mimic something called the Z80, used in CP/M machines (and several machines like the Commodore 64)[1].

    While I'm not exactly sure how similar the Z80's instruction set is to the x86 family, I do know that the C64 never used a Z80 chip, they used 6502 processors. Now gameboys use Z80's, that'd be interesting, a CP/M port to the gameboy.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • I totally agree on this.

    At my work we usually shoot for AMD K6-II chips running 350 - 450mzh. We try to put 64 megs of ram with good 2D system (I still can not get the boss to spend an extra $50 for higher end 15 inch monitor) and a cheap PCI 100 Mbit card. Our workers need nothing else than MS Word, Outlook Express, Windows 98SE and Goldmine 5. I think we usually get these for less than $500 and they last for 2 or 3 years.

  • Basically it says that the performance isn't so hot...

    Isn't that the point, though? That it's not hot? ;)

    Crusoe: because it's a laptop; not a lap warmer

  • invariably false in one respect or another. Check the benchmarks and you will see all sorts of different results...

    I can tell you this though if you are a gamer -- I own 2 Falcon Northwest Mach V PCs (indisputably the fastest gaming machines on the planet, albeit a bit pricey). For those of you who don't know them, they build custom gaming rigs from scratch, to your order, with exactly the components you want starting with the motherboard. Go to a gaming show like E3 and you'll see their boxes in many booths because game companies know and want their games to look as good as possible.

    When I was purchasing the newest one back in Novemeber, Falcon told me that they were recommending an Athlon. I said, "Huh?! You're kidding me! Come on! I know AMD is getting better, but..." They said...Look, we have a rep in this business for making the best gaming machines on the market. Customers like you buy from us only because we're the best. We wouldn't say this if we hadn't tested the crap out of these machines in every way. In every test we ran, Athlon's outperform PIIIs at the same clock speed by about 10%. The only question we've had for the past few months was reliability, and they've finally overcome all those problems. (Falcon picks up any faulty machine under warranty from your house and overnights it to their shop, fixes it, and overnights it back to the customer for free. That's a warranty!) We'll custom build you a PIII if you want, but honestly, we recommend the Athlon...

    I bought the Athlon 650 and it rocks! Two days later I bought a crapload of AMD stock at $28 a share...and the rest, my friend, is history.

  • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:37AM (#970878) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see a Linux Crusoe notebook and a gcc compiler that can generate native Crusoe code. That would be cool, I think.

    -Sigh- OKAY... One Last Time -- there IS NO native code set for Crusoe chips. There IS NO point in coding a compiler for the layer of code under the morphing layer.

    Two chips have already been released, and they have wildly different "native code" layers. Chips with the exact same model number might have different "native code".

    Here's a little history to explain where they are going - Back in the Bad Old Days of computing, the computers had a circuit board covered with transistors, resistors and such for every single function. When you "programmed" those beasts, you were actually telling it very specific instructions on how that *one* computer should do things. Each and every model was different, often with significant differences between each *machine*.

    Then Computer Languages came along, and made people happy for awhile. Although you had to write a compiler/interpreter for each machine you made, the programs could work across different machines.

    Opcodes, and Integrated Circuits came *later*. Once they showed up, you could change the underlying circuitry and still maintain compatability, since you were programming to an "Instruction Set" that would stay the same across that family of processors.

    Your beefy 750 Mhz Pentium III has a set of opcodes in it that mimic something called the Z80, used in CP/M machines (and several machines like the Commodore 64)[1].

    Okay... so now, Crusoe is attempting to abstract the circuitry yet another layer with it's intelligent "code morphing" layer. In theory, the CM layer can do all sorts of loop optimizations, creating new structures that perform faster and faster the more times they are used.

    At least, that's the theory, and what they present on their site and in their presentations. I don't know how real it is, as the benchmarks seem not to reflect what they claim.

    But the point it - if you write natively, your program won't necessarily work on another machine *with the same chip*, and certainly won't work on any other Crusoe chips. Plus, you eliminate the advantages of any optimization that the Code Morphing layer delivers.

    Think of it this way -- all the people clamoring for "Native Crusoe Code" are basically doing the same thing as people asking video driver programmers "Can you bypass those 3D and 2D accelerator chips so we can use the normal VGA registers? Yes, we know we'll have to write a seperate program for each video card."

    [1] I ported over some CP/M utilities from an Apple ][+ with a Z80 card to an original IBM PC. I still have that PC, and years later looked at it's serial number. 512. Yeah, baby.


  • Actually Dell's pimp is Intel, not Microsoft. dell has been offering Linux on their servers for a while now. Plus the Crusoe runs windows.

    But just try to get an Athlon system from Dell.
  • You're forgetting that the TM5400 also integrates some of the other components, such as one of the halves of the PCI bridge (North Bridge, IIRC). That too is a big power-eater.

    Take a lid off a PC sometime and look for that other heatsink over the mobo chipset.

  • I like Dell too. But they don't sell Athlons and that's what I wanted.
  • I like Dell too. But they don't sell Athlons and that's what I wanted.
  • Actually Dell's pimp is Intel, not Microsoft. dell has been offering Linux on their servers for a while now. Plus the Crusoe runs windows.

    But just try to get an Athlon system from Dell.

    i concede your point. actually, my firewall is a dell linux server! i guess i should have spelled it WinTel.

    hey the post was funny and i typed it quick. who cares about facts - this is slashdot!

  • by Spasemunki ( 63473 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:41AM (#970887) Homepage
    For one thing, the increase in desktop and laptop performance across the board has increased the expectations for what a laptop can do. Consumers are no longer content to use ill-designed, unsupported, and generally flakey laptops just because they don't sit on a desk. The majority of senior management in my office doesn't have desktops- they have a laptop, and a docking station in the office. Laptops are increasingly fulfilling traditional desktop roles, and are a big deal with business users that travel and make off-site presentations. If Crusoe is a real drop in performance compared to a non-Crusoe laptop of comperable cost, the business world ain't gonna bite, and that's where a lot of the new money is.

    "Sweet creeping zombie Jesus!"
  • by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:51AM (#970889) Homepage Journal

    I personally find that GCC tends to be the same or better than the SparcWorks compiler on "integer" control codes, but it sucks wind on floating point codes. (GCC is also simply a much more forgiving compiler.) In most of the other anecdotal evidence I've heard about other platforms (Alpha, mainly), it's a similar story -- integer is ok, floating point sucks. Here on Slashdot, we've seen multiple stories about Compaq's Alpha compiler and math libraries and how they outperform GCC. GCC 2.95 and newer might be better given several recent developments, but I'm not in a position to test it presently.

    Until recently, GCC lacked several optimizations, such as software pipelining and even accurate pipelining modeling for straight-line scheduling, so it did a poor job of keeping highly parallel pipes full. (Note that on x86, this isn't a problem since those CPUs have relative narrow pipes these days.) For instance, GCC's architecture description primitives weren't expressive enough to describe how to order Sparc instructions so as to generate a schedule that would issue four instructions per cycle. Many fixes have occurred as part of the EGCS / GCC 3.00 project that's now in progress, but that's not the mainstream GCC currently.

    These days, vendor compilers are pretty good, and GCC is reasonable. When GCC 2.0 came out, GCC pulled ahead of many vendors, as I understand it, and in the meantime the vendors have caught up and/or have gotten ahead. I'm hoping that with GCC 3.0, GCC pulls ahead again.

    PS. To give you an idea of how bad GCC is on some platforms, at least for awhile, the native build of the Alpha RC5 client was SLOWER than than the Windows version of the client running in FX32!. IIRC, the native version was a GCC build.

  • It would be big news if Dell USED Crusoe. They won't budge from Intel unless their bottom line changes.

    Compaq has financial woes and is acting conservative. I don't think this is a very big thing. There will likely be plenty of Crusoe laptops around. I feel sorry for the ZDnet reporter who had to put together the 'news' article.


  • No sane MIS toadie is going to risk his neck on Linux. It's like one of those "problem-solving flowcharts" that every self-respecting geek owns. If something breaks, always have someone to point the finger at. If you're the guy who brought in Linux to the company, suddenly you're at the bottom of the blame chain. Bad place to be.

    This lack of willingness to take responsibility for one's work often severely hampers a company's compatability, and is probably one of the biggest factors in allowing small startups to so often challenge and occasionally even topple the entrenched giants.

    As a counter example, it is really nice to be the guy who grought Linux into the company, helped make the company millions in the process, and get sufficient consideration to be able to afford really fun toys (like fast computers and even faster airplanes).

    Of course, I work for a small enough company that CYA is a very minor concern -- getting the job done in an economical and reliable fashion is much more important, and for what we do (options and futures trading at the exchanges) Linux truly excells over the alternatives (Windows/NT - which has taken a couple of our competitors down for days and thereby helped to make us millions -- thanks Microsoft! -- and Solaris: reliable, but expensive, cumbersome, and slow, unless running on really high end, even more expensive, equipment).

    Folks like you and I are in a great position to take advantage of the entrenched and relatively clueless MIS toadies' fears - we can take the risks (minor) they are unwilling to and reap the rewards (tremendous) they were blind to. Not a bad place to be at all.
  • I have seen P500's run slower than my P100 just because it wasn't setup right. I don't think this is an issue.
  • by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @11:59AM (#970898) Homepage Journal
    Is this a Intel PC only concern? The only heatsink in here is on the Proc.

    It may be. The PC mobo chipset has to provide all of the legacy support crap in a PC. Apple's been a little more successful, I think, in throwing off cruft in each spin of their machine, due to their tighter control of the platform.

    Also, in the PC space, you have more rabid head-to-head competition between vendors, and most are competing directly on performance and cost, so they don't care if they burn a few extra Watts. The Mac can get away from that a bit since the competition within the Mac space is less cutthroat, and the competition between the Mac and PC spaces is an apples-to-oranges comparison (eg. you can't just post a 0.5 FPS difference on Quake 3 timedemo scores and knowingly point at the mobo chipset as the reason).

    In the laptop space, this is of course less of an issue, although all of the legacy cruft still gets dragged along. Transmeta's software solution allows them to also virtualize much of the lesser-used legacy crap in software, thereby giving them even better bang/buck and bang/Watt ratios.

    How much power could this draw, though, vis-a-vis the LCD or the DVD drive[?]

    Not really sure. My wild-ass-guess is that the PCI stuff could burn as much as 50% as much power the CPU does in a laptop (much lower ratio in a desktop), but it's really just a WAG. How that factors into the overall system's equation is even more of a mystery.

    You're right about the display being the really "sucky" element. I can't wait until low-power LCD goggles are available. (I know of someone who's working on such a toy...)

  • Wasn't the WHOLE point of the Crusoe chip to draw a tiny amount of power? Yeah, they talked about optimizations in the chip, but those were not about out performing their AMD/Intel counterpart, just achiving the lowest power consumption possible while achiving accecptable performance. I liked this:

    "Dell has found that the
    performance of the current TM 5400 chips is not yet up to par with similarly rated mobile chips from Intel."

    That sounds to me like (although I could be totaly off as this has no basis) management saw a nice juicey 700MHz number, and thought that it will run just like the latest 700MHz Pentium. This is to all who are confused: 700MHz is the Clock Speed. That is the number of times an operation CAN be performed per second. (~7 Million) That can vary wildly. If there is a cache miss, then you get less. If two unrelated regesters are used (in most x86 chips for years) then you can get more. There is no way that a 700 MHz chip running an additional layer of code, code morphing, is going to touch a chip that is running native instructions. There is also no way the native chips can touch the power consumption as long as the chip doesn't use as many transistors. (Well, that's not ALL the way true.) The point is that the Crusoe is not about performance, it is about not needing 2 batteries for you laptop just to use it for more than <exageration> 10 Minutes!!!</exageration> This is for people who could probibly be using a computer like a Pentium/450 with out complaning but DO complane if they have to keep changing laptop bateries.

  • .
    You're right, of course... I got that backwards. They do share the same opcodes, but the Z80 cloned the 8088. (Click here []).

    And how many other people here programmed a 4004? I found one in a music-tone guitar, ripped it out, and played with it. It was obsolete then, so they kept making them for quite awhile.

    Oh, and as to the fact that the Commie 64 didn't have a Z80 - oops. I mentally thought to myself as I was typing: "It had a 6502 (like my trusty Apple ][+), and a Z80, and people are going to complain that it didn't have a Z80 because it had two CPUs".

    It was the Commodore 128 [] that had a Z80 for CP/M mode. Both the 64 and 128 had 6502s as their main processor.


  • This supposed GREAT laptop battery life you will get with the Crusoe, but I am not buying it. The processor is ONE component, among many.

    From the article:

    Transmeta, not surprisingly, disagreed. In the case of the IBM machine, the CPU consumes between 1 watt and 5 watts, depending on how hard it's working, whereas the rest of the system consumes 5 watts to 6 watts. Part of that advantage is because the chip that controls memory, which is separate in an Intel PC, is part of the Crusoe processor, Fleischman said.

  • Should Dell be wooried about the performance? Laptops have less power than desktops, but that is the price you pay for portability. However, on the other hand people still want the most bang for thier buck. Just the same I don't know of anyone who does any serious heavy computing on a laptop.

    Come see my website.
  • For anyone with half a wit, it isn't an issue.

    What laptop manufacturers are failing to do is focus on satisfying customer *NEEDS* instead of customer wants.

    Customers *want* a 3GHz processor.

    What they actually *need*, though, is something that can run their applications at an acceptable speed with an acceptable battery life.

    And that's where the daft buggers keep falling flat on their faces. Sure, a Pentium-III 700 will blaze through those Word documents. And at the same time, it's going to blaze through the battery.

    What most customers *NEED* is a processor at about the 200MHz speed, with about 128Mb RAM and a ten-hour battery life.

    And this is because the most resource-devouring application most customers will ever run on their laptop is Windows with MS-Access Database. Said software being fairly perky on the system described.

    Entirely possible, but the manufacturers are being run by know-nothing marketers instead of sensible folk...

  • I had to go to Gateway to get my Athlon workstation at the office. They are definately in Intel's pocket.
  • by tbo ( 35008 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:13AM (#970926) Journal
    If you want a fast, low power-consumption chip to run Linux, why not a PowerPC? Sure, it's not x86, but there's a number of good PPC linux ports.

    Yes, PPC has higher power consumption than Crusoe, but much lower than any equivalent x86. How do you think the new iMacs work with no fan?

    From the article, it sounds like PPC would give you much better performance...
  • Well, after Microsoft, it looks like we'll need to take care of Intel, and maybe that darn sewing-circle of PC manufacturers, too.

    I agree with them to an extent, though: the Crusoe will probably see most of its success on web-pads and whatnot. If you're feeling cautious, wait until that takes off before you bet the farm on the low-end laptop business.

    However, any laptop with even as much power as my K6/300 would be fine with me; and if it lasted for 8 hours or more, so much the better. I still don't see why I would want a computer that's 50% faster if it can only last 2 hours, and still does all the word-processing you could possibly expect a computer to do...

    Oh wait, you're using Office 2000 on Windows 2000? What? On a laptop?!?? Never mind... ;)
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by webmaven ( 27463 ) <webmaven AT cox DOT net> on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:14AM (#970929) Homepage
    I'm not waiting for a laptop.

    I want a web-pad with a touch screen (optional keyboard) that has wireless Internet access form anywhere within my home.

    The lower power consumption will make this sort of device a lot easier to hold and use due to a smaller battery.

    If the connection was high bandwidth enough, it could even be running applications off a server in my home, and it could dispense with a hard drive entirely.
  • This CNET article []talks about Gateway and IBM using Transmeta processors. I think this is a big victory for Gateway over Dell.

  • by Mark F. Komarinski ( 97174 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:48AM (#970936) Homepage
    According to Intel, a 400Mhz Celeron PPGA uses 24.6W. According to IBM, their Travelstar 14GS (14GB 2.5" drive) takes a maximum of 5W, and that's for powerup. Normal is on the order of 2-3W. Don't know about the LCD, but a Teac notebook CD-ROM is about 3W (600mA * 5V) while active. Sharp 12.1" LCD screen takes 7.5W.(see,, and, for the specs).

    You're now looking at instead of a draw of about 40.1W with an Intel Celeron versus a draw of 16.5, or a drop in almost 2/3. This would imply that all things being equal, you'd triple your battery life by going from a Celeron 400 to an Crusoe. And the Celeron 400 is pretty low power compared to the PIII chips.

  • I had some serious reliability problems with my Gateway laptop last year, and learned all about that bumpy reinstall process 5,6 or 7 times. If Gateway starts shipping Crusoe-based laptops, I'll worry less about the hit in processing power, and more about my hard drive bursting into flames every 4 months. It's great that they're willing to try and get out from under Intel by shipping AMD and Transmeta systems, but after the burn I took from them last time Dell is looking a lot better for a Windows machine.

    "Sweet creeping zombie Jesus!"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...that Jon Katz is still a fucking moron.
  • When the two biggest computer manufacturers hesitate in adopting something like this it adds validity to something that many of us have been suspecting for quite some time. Namely that Linus' attachment to the Linux & Open Source communities has hurt Transmeta's chances of being taken seriously by big business.

    No it doesn't. All it confirms is that Compaq and Dell aren't about to risk their credibility on an unproven product. Saying that Linus is the reason for Compaq's reluctance is like insisting that worms don't fly because there's birds in the air. First, let the worms grow wings, and then see what happens.

    Personally, I don't think Linus has enough of the recognition factor among MIS managers to make much difference either way. At least not the ones who buy from Compaq and Dell.

    Linux needs a strong marketing presence funded by capital (not free time). This needs to be handled by a professional marketing agency (not hobbiests (sic)). We need to work on our image if we wish to succeed.

    Agreed. No sane MIS toadie is going to risk his neck on Linux. It's like one of those "problem-solving flowcharts" that every self-respecting geek owns. If something breaks, always have someone to point the finger at. If you're the guy who brought in Linux to the company, suddenly you're at the bottom of the blame chain. Bad place to be.


  • by mwalker ( 66677 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:15AM (#970949) Homepage
    "Yahoo! has an article from ZDNet News that details how Compaq and Dell are shying away from Crusoe notebooks "for now".

    "We just can't afford to anger our pimp." Said Dell's spokesperson. "Microsoft has always been good to us, and he doesn't like that ho Linus!"

    "When I can give the customer full-size notebook performance," said Kyle Ranson, vice president and general manager of Compaq's Transactional Business Segment.

    Kyle emphasized the importance of full-size notebook performance, noting that most customers expected a high framerate from their toy paperclip, and the ability to fry eggs on their CPU for all 45 minutes of battery life. When asked if he had considered the needs (and lower cpu requirements) of Linux users, Ranson responded:

    "We're going to be taking care of those people shortly. Er... I mean... I'm not sure that Linux will be favorably recieved by Microsoft.Net."

  • by Dungeon Dweller ( 134014 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:16AM (#970950)
    In my opinion, these processors are better suited to be the high power processors of yet smaller devices. The laptop industry has moved beyond the speeds of the crusoe processors, but smaller devices where more power is desireable are really where the 1st generation crusoe's belong. A couple months ago, though, the crusoe's would have really given Intel a run for their money (they still are with the whole power consumption deal, but I am willing to bet that the GHz notebooks will be out soon). Also, in cost, they seem to have Intel beat in value for the buck.
  • what you do not take into account is that the Crusoe doesn't require any fan for cooling...which is a definite big hitter for power consumption in Intel laptops
  • On our college campus, maybe 50% of students have laptops, maybe a little less. Most of us don't have them for their battery life, they simply take up less precious desk space and can be lugged to the library and plugged in there when we need to study.

    Battery life becomes a non-issue, most of the time. On campus, laptops simply mean you can lug your computer out of your dorm room in one piece. So what if a new processor uses less power? Students still need fast processors to play games and do work, just in notebook form.

    Besides, how often are you really away from a power outlet for eight hours?
  • It is only those who have NOT been successful that complain about the "system". If you work hard
    and play by the rules the "system" will treat you just fine.

    My ass. It's those who depend on the "successful' whop complain about the new guy. That's what this thread is about. Geez sollipsists, not only do you not read comments, you fit the comments to assumptions based on a few words you read. You have no capacity to grasp subtle differences.
  • I guess the mere fact that the chip consumes only 1 W of power compared to the 30-100 W of current chips is just irrelevant, right?

    Sure the peripherals suck more juice than the chip. But the important thing about PC hardware is the modularity. Someone somewhere is going to make less power-hungry PCI boards or something. This is called progress!

    Some of us are not as enamored of Linus as you think we are.

  • Oh, to reply to my own message, here are some interesting and worthwhile links related to GCC performance:

    • NullStone [] compiler optimization benchmarks. On this page [], they give some comparisons between GCC and some other compilers.
    • The Stepanov Benchmark page at KAI []. The Stepanov Benchmark measures C++ abstraction penalty. GCC sucks wind on this one (as do most C++ compilers), whereas Apples MrC compiler slices through the abstraction and gets a "perfect score" (eg. no penalty).
    • The GCC site [] contains many interesting tidbits, some of which I mentioned above. For instance, news on the Sparc backend [] details some of the issues I described above. Note, although that rewrite occurred in late 1998, I still see the older backend's behavior in gcc 2.8.1, which is what we have at work.
    • Slashdot's story [] on the Compaq Alpha compiler. Some good data down in the comments.
  • by First Person ( 51018 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2000 @09:18AM (#970972)

    Technically, the chips are intriguing and appeal to the nerd crowd (myself included). But even if they perform at 50% compared to the latest laptops, how many business travelers would want one solely for the increased battery life? I know that when I travel across the US, to Asia, or Europe, I'm nursing the batteries all the way. And I'm only running 'simple' applications.

    Given the hype and counter-hype, these may be the most eagerly awaited benchmarks in recent memory. It's great to see competition at this level.

  • Hmmm, as one of my friend said: "I'd never buy such a stupid (and expensive) thing like full-featured notebook in its current stage. How can I use it if it's not able to survive more than 2-4 hours or so. I'd like to prepare/rearrange my materials for presentation in a train, I don't need to play q3a in 100fps. I simply need more time and they give me only power.

    I have an alter-ego at Red Dwarf. Don't remind me that coward.

  • This is EXACTLY what I want. And I want it to be able to run as an X-terminal so I can use the power of my desktop anywhere in the house (in the world?).

    Let's go into business together and do this.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.