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IBM Wary of Crusoe? 134

Angus writes "VNUnet have just posted a story that IBM is being cautious about the future of Transmeta's Crusoe in production machines. Suggestion is that Intel is still the player for the future of portables." An interesting comment at the end: 'All Intel has to do is cut prices to squeeze transmeta out of the market'
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IBM Wary of Crusoe?

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  • So, IBM is wary of a product they produce? I don't think so.

    Hmm, think "OS/2". I rest my case, your honor.

  • CmdrTaco actually read to the end?? :)
  • Well.. production is peanuts.. so are royalties (40$ every 2-3 months for a few friends who held the dance/club top 5 for months a few years ago - yay, that's alot!). Distribution is relatively inexpensive; a day-long truck transit costs about 200 $USD to the shipper, now consider how many cd's you can fit in an 18 wheeler. Packaging is the big expense : cases, inserts and labeling are alot of hassle.

    Now I can't provide you with a notarized financial statement, but if you really expect my to join such proof with a mere slashdot comment, then you're definitely on crack!

  • I believe it was Sir Winston Churchill who offered the money.
    Right, and the board can say no to all offers, because they are the shareholders themselves, not anybody elses nominees.
  • Right, and the board can say no to all offers, because they are the shareholders themselves, not anybody elses nominees.

    True enough -- although I'd bet that some of Transmeta's venture capitalists are on the board, and the VCs will require cash (euphemistically called a "liquidation event") at some point. In the face of an offer for the company, the VC will weigh the value of cash now versus the value of (hopefully) more cash, or an IPO, later.

  • twas my point in my above statement. Just defending the Ppro - I loved the chip when it came out.
    5 years is too long to wait for something new when 5 weeks makes it obsolete.

    nerdfarm.org [nerdfarm.org]
  • Your idea does sound like the perfect way to sink a company like VA Linux. Get them to spend a lot of capital designing it, then when nobody comes they get hauled into bankruptcy.

    One engineer could design this setup in a month.
    Let's see. Take a vanilla server and stick in a wireless networking card. (That took all of ...what...3 seconds?)

    Now for the roaming display. Take a notebook and put Linux, a shell and X Windows in ROM. Shouldn't take more than 8Meg of flash memory (Remember, just the server, not the apps). Give it 8Megs of RAM and one of the low-power processors and a wireless networking card. No hard-drive, no floppy, and no CD. Maybe a small speaker. LCD display. The hard part is packaging (and is the only reason I haven't done it myself.), but it shouldn't take too long to layout these standard components and stick them in some nice molded plastic.

  • 'All Intel has to do is cut prices to squeeze transmeta out of the market' But wouldn't that be the same as M$ trying to 'squeeze' netscape out of the market. So then the government slaps restrictions on Intel like they did to IBM in the 70's. (cource that is only if it notices.
  • Every article linked to on slashdot seems to have some moronic analyst who didnt bother to research his topic. sadly not much we can do as long as the article is pertinant it works for the story on slashdot.
  • I think that the DoJ might not look favorably on such a merger. Plus the Transmeta investors stand to make a whole lot more with the IPO route even with current market shakiness or perhaps by waiting for a less shaky market sometime in the future.

    Intel buying Transmeta just won't happen.
  • Except Transmeta's completely isolated from the market shakiness since they're a private company. Intel can put forth an offer, but they can't just buy up all the stock and take over the company unless they want to be bought./
  • Clearly Transmeta has a much lower power chip. Clearly Intel is scared. Proof points:

    1. Transmeta's chip *averages* one watt, whereas Intel's has a constant power setting of 2 watts when unplugged from a power outlet. This means that Intel's chip is very hobbled whenever it is running on battery power, whereas the Transmeta chip will speed up and slow down as needed, many times per second.

    2. Transmeta's one watt includes the northbridge, which is separate on the Intel chip and consumes several watts.

    3. Transmeta's chip doesn't need a fan.
  • The only problem for a company trying to leverage x86 compatibility in the "post-PC market" is that without a decent sized screen, a keyboard, or a mouse, a vast chunk of desireable x86 software is now useless. What's the point of running Adobe Photoshop on your handheld? It seems to me that when the available hardware is so vastly different between a desktop and an 'appliance', x86 compatibility isn't so much of an issue.

    Witness how useless Windows CE is, and how slick Palm is. Windows CE is Windows shoehorned onto a portable, Palm was written from the ground up. Likewise, most of the x86 software that you would want to run would seem just as awkward when placed on a 8" LCD screen and accessed with a stylus.

    And if you're going to suggest that appliances won't be that crippled, then you're committed to a larger screen, some hard drive storage, a mouse, and a keyboard - that sounds like a laptop to me.

  • What happens when Linus writes a kernel that runs natively on the VLIW Crusoe instruction set?

    That would be VERY wrong, if you make a program go trough the code-morphing layer and run natively, you couldn't use the ability to swap chips seamlessly, and if the chip had some bug, the morph layer couldnt make a workaround.
    However, i'm expecting that transmeta releases, along the x86 translator software, some software that translates from a especially designed instruction set, that would be designed to be easy and fast to translate, a la Java bytecode, that way you would minimize the translating overhead(it may even be native VLIW instructions, and the morph layer would only check them for any important problem and pass them to the processor), while keeping the benefits from the morph layer. Extrapolating that, Transmeta could design interpreted bytecodes optimized for specific tasks, as multimedia, databases, or whatever. Of course, would the opensource the damn thing, you could have translators for everything you want, but in case of bugs in the chipset, getting a workaround would be a bit more difficult, if your particular translator wasn't supported by transmeta.

  • who wins? I don't buy a processor. I buy a computer. I want a 'web-pad' with a small inegrated keyboard, large touch screen running X-windows, >=8hr battery life, and wireless networking. The server I have would work as a base station, and I could use several pads at the same time anywhere in the house. If this device has a Crusoe IC, I'll buy it. Shoot, I'd buy it if it had nothing more than an 20MHz i386 (how much bandwidth is needed to run an X display and take keyboard input?).

    I want a computing (as opposed to computer) solution. I don't want another processor tying me to my office chair.

    Anyone here with contacts to VA-Linux or some other hardware provider? If they offered a 'home computing solution' (a server and 2 or 3 webpads) for $3000(US) they could wipe up the SOHO market. I'd know I'd jump on it like stink on sh**.

    Oh, and did I mention that I wouldn't care what processor was in the web pad?
  • This isn't an IT thing. How the hell does Transmeta prove itself except to get manufacturers to make laptops based on it? It's a chicken-and-egg problem. If IBM wanted Crusoe technology to prove itself, they'd make demo laptops, give them to the board of directors, executives, et. al., and then wait for the feedback to see whether they liked it. If they did, produce it! If they didn't, don't.
  • Is there really such a thing? Sure, there are the instructions hardwired into the chips - but all applications programming is done at the x86 instruction set level. Transmeta's interpretation technology is another of the things that, IMHO, makes them dangerous to Intel, Motorola, et. al. They can write translators for ARM, PowerPC, 68000, etc. instruction families and hide their internal implementations inside the translators - so they aren't crippled in the future by "gotchas" in their processor architecture (see the x86 family). Hopefully, there won't really be a "native" mode - but maybe they'll come out with a "reference" architecture that's optimized for their translation technology.

    Now - for my wish list, I want a translator that will eat Java bytecode. The Crusoe family could be THE Java deployment platform, esp. for portable devices.

  • I tried to read the article, but either it's Slashdotted or my TCP/IP is flipping out again. Either way, does anyone else find it odd that an article putting down Transmeta is littered with Doubleclick ads for Intel? Makes me kinda wonder....
  • All Intel has to do is cut prices to squeeze transmeta out of the market."

    And all SGI needs to do is cut prices on their Origin supercomputers in order to place Intel out of the home-PC market! The fact is that Transmeta is targetting a very specific market segment--people interested in fully functional low-power notebooks/Internet appliances who are willing to incur a performance penalty. These are the low-end, low-margin, customers that Intel wants to avoid, for the most part. Mobile Celerons are low-margin and only make up a miniscule portion of Intel's sales.
  • by 11223 ( 201561 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:17AM (#956377)
    Sing after me: The laptop division isn't connected to the chip division, the chip division isn't connected to the software division, ...
  • C'mon fools show companies how to build motherboards for the chip. Build a few yourselves.

    Say what you want about the new trendy palmtop market, it can't hold itself up unless it becomes telephone like consistent in design. You know, disposable. People will buy a phone for a new home just for kicks.

    The customizable market has been able to to carry itself on its many parts.

  • I don't think it is that IBM is wary of Crusoe, they are just assessing customer demand before they go into production with the chip. One thing the article stressed was that IBM wants to wait and see what the demand is before producing machines other than prototypes with the chip.
  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @10:31AM (#956380)
    That is correct!

    I think one issue Transmeta may face is the fact that Intel's latest Celeron mobile CPU's are already using far less power consumption than their predecessors.

    Once Intel goes to the 0.13 micron process to make the Celeron mobile CPU, the chances are good this future Celeron variant will have the same power consumption as the Transmeta CPU.

    Remember, for business applications and Web browsing, the Celeron CPU with its on-die 128 KB L2 cache is more than sufficient for most users, even in corporate environments. It's only in environments where CPU power is at a premium (high-end games, illustration programs, image-processing programs and CAD/CAM programs) where the Pentium III and Athlon CPU's really become userful.
  • As far as the end user is concerned, the Crusoe is just a low powered x86. Just as the Athlon and Pentium III's are x86 processors, when everything about them is different than the 386 that they decended from.

    If someone ports linux to it....

    Funny... they have Linus on staff, but they're not doing it. And it's not really possible, since they're not disclosing the chips native language to anybody.

    And what makes you believe that dropping the power usage of the CPU from 6 watts (what intel's old portable Pentium's ran at) to 1 watt is going to miraculously give you 32 more hours of battery life? As has been recanted numerous times here, it's not the processor that eats up the battery as much as the hard drive and backlit display.

    If Intel can get the power usage and price down to Crusoe levels, Transmeta's market will dry up. EVeryone's quite aware that the direction the industry is taking is towards portable, always on, internet connected devices. EVeryon includes Intel. They're not just going to look the other way as Transmeta tries to get it's foot hold into the next big market.
  • by fReNeTiK ( 31070 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @10:31AM (#956382)
    You're so right. Here's what I've picked up from the latest c't magazine cpu-news column:

    Intel has only been able to claim lower than 1 Watt consumption on their new SpeedStep CPUs trough a trick. They measure what they call "Average Power", which is supposed to simulate a realistic usage pattern. In reality, this means their cpus spend 80 to 95 percent of the time effectively turned of. Maximum consumption at 500 MHz and 1.1 Volt is still 8.1 Watt.
    Now compare this to the Crusoe which is supposed to burn only 1 Watt while decoding an MP3 (1.8 for DVD decoding), and add to this that the Northbridge is _integrated_ into the Crusoe. An Intel BX chipset typically burns about 2 Watts, which would put the Intel cpu at around 6 Watt for something like mp3 decoding.

    So, everything else being equal, the Crusoe is a long way ahead in terms of power consumption. Overall, since Crusoe integrates part of the mainboard chipset, it should allow for simpler mainboard layouts, which again translates into size and consumption savings (not to mention cheaper manufacturing).

    I think Transmeta have a damn fine product, and Intel should really watch out if they don't want to lose a big part of the mobile market (hmmm, only the paranoid survive anyone?)...

  • Yes, but the rest of us find it much easier to read text that is correctly punctuated and capitalized. Not that you should care. Unless, of course, you want us to take your posts seriously. The fact that you are out of school doesn't make your poorly formatted text any easier to read, nor does it excuse your fuzzy-headed reasoning.

    If you are writing something that you would like others to read you might consider their comfort. Otherwise don't be surprised if people simply skip over your posts. That would be unfortunate in this particular case because your original post was quite interesting. Why hide your good points with poor formatting?

    It may sound trite in this world of fast food and VB programming, but the old adage is still true: "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right."

  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @10:54AM (#956384) Homepage Journal
    You're right - it does sound real close to a laptop. I think that real "post-PC devices" will take advantage of flash memory, improved LCD technology (not necessarily in the full-color, XGA-class form factor), and a mixture of chicklet keyboards (when applicable) and stylus input for navigation and editing. The other thing that can help these devices is some of the newer lithium battery technology where you can pretty much mold the battery to the available space.

    The advantage to leveraging software doesn't come in just recycling Win32 cruft (or Unix cruft, for that matter). Photoshop on a tablet is probably a waste of a tablet and a waste of Photoshop as well. But a simplified sketch application that can re-use some Photoshop code on top of Unix API's might be a hit. Likewise, I'm not suggesting that Word (or StarOffice, for that matter) would be a program that should or could be ported. A tablet application would probably be far simpler, and a "terminal appliance" that fits into a PC form factor but uses far less power (and generates far less heat) might use a more robust app. But good development can allow a vendor to re-use a lot of code in between.

    I don't see us running today's x86 software on these devices as is - but there is some potential, more so than if you have to write from scratch. Despite the elegance and simplicity of the Palm OS (and I'm addicted to my Palm Vx), there is very little potential to bring software over to the platform from other systems. It's not easy at all, though it is do-able. Mobile Linux at least has the potential to be better than that - code reuse doesn't necessarily mean application reuse, though. Thank heavens.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • They can't...it's privately held. (Unless the small group of owners want to sell.)
  • Do you think the Crusoe is a flash in the pan or not?
  • Ewe Kahn have aye peace of text that glows through your spill checker grate butt is bad english.
  • IBM's fabs in Burlington do contract work for several companies. That's the point of operating a general facility like that: you can give priority to your parent company, while having backup business they can run when their parent company has downtime in part runs. If the Transmeta business went away, there would be more business to take its place. IBM wins either way.
  • the crusoe is nothing like an intel procescor its not even a x86 instead its a different lower power consumption procescor with a soft layer underneath that morphs x86 code to the cpu's native code which is the whole thing about transmeta there not really competing intel is aimed at desktop pc while crusoe is aimed at the portable computing platform
  • I've submitted it a few times but it's always rejected, but there's been lots of word on the web about Intel introducing it's own low power processors (1-2 watts, apparently) in the next month or two. Intel's not sitting still when seeing transmeta eye a segment of their market.

    If their chips really do use as little power as the reports say, then there goes transmeta's major advantage. They'll be left to compete on price and performance. They might win the price battle, but currently, i'd expect intel to win the performance battle (i'd rather a 600 MHz Pentium III than a 700 MHz Crusoe, all other things being equal, which they WILL be soon).
  • That's assuming Ditzel and co. are willing to sell out. This is a guy who was already rich from his career at Sun. He left because of he believed he could build a better processor, and Sun didn't want to pursue it. So then he gets some of the hottest talent in the universe to sign on, mostly for stock options, and to keep their mouths shut for five years in the valley that loves to talk.

    These things tell me that Transmeta is probably not for sale. I think we've only begun to see what can be done with these chips. What happens when Transmeta decides to re-write the code-morphing module to emulate other chipsets besides x86? What happens when Linus writes a kernel that runs natively on the VLIW Crusoe instruction set?

    Transmeta's Crusoe is a disruptive technology. Selling out to Intel won't bring these innovations to market, and that seems to be what Ditzel cares about most.

  • Yes Intel can make life difficult for Transmeta with predatory pricing, but they cannot touch the technology. If IBM builds a Crusoe-based laptop with 6-8 hour battery life they will blow away all current Intel based systems. This matters to those folks who travel a lot, and whose flight patterns are LA to NY, not LA to Las Vegas.

    AMD has already proven that the chip inside isn't the all-important deciding factor that Intel would like it to be. Corporate purchasing decisions will continue to be made on the basis of what the box does for the customer, and which company stands behind it.
  • It would be my hope that Intel is better than that... after dealing with years of abuse from Microsoft, I hope they don't stoop to the same level of eliminating competition.
  • I think if the Transmeta folks think they can compete against Intel in the sub-notebook market (note I didn't say small, handheld units where input are done by stylus pointer), they may have trouble convincing people to do so.

    Remember, the latest Celeron 500 MHz mobile CPU already uses less than 2 watts of power during normal operation, and this is the Celeron that uses the 0.18-micron process. Given the fact that Intel will start switching to the 0.13-micron process for many of their CPU lines in early 2001, we can extrapolate that Intel will produce a version of the Celeron mobile CPU using the 0.13-micron process, and that could mean that the Celeron mobile CPU could use less than 1 watt of power during normal operation, which might negate all the supposed advantages of the Crusoe CPU.

    Besides, given that most laptop users use their machines mostly for business applications and Internet access, there is no pressing need for the ultimate in CPU performance. The current Celeron CPU is more than sufficient to run business applications and surf the web at reasonably fast speeds.
  • The last line of the article...apparently Mr. Brown is too up on anti-trust laws. Performing a drastic price change to squeeze out competitors could just bring the DOJ down on INTEL...that would be an interesting case..

  • Crusoe's big selling point is that it uses less power. But it only saves about 60% of what intels use in most circumstances; moreover, laptops spend most of their energy on displays.. so why is crusoe useful?
  • are there transmeta computing devices to buy? I haven't seen any.

    i'd love to have a couple of lightweights that I could string around the house. casual internet/application access, mp3 access, etc. if there are transmeta-powered commercial devices, i'd like to know where i can buy one!

  • The DOJ confronted Intel about shady activities against DEC/Compaq and Intergraph last year. Unlike MicroSoft, Intel settled with a change of business practices, and I forget, money(?).

  • "I think Transmeta have a damn fine product, and Intel should really watch out if they don't want to lose a big part of the mobile market (hmmm, only the paranoid survive anyone?)... "

    You've made some fine points. I wasn't aware that the northbridge was integrated into the cruose. That is a nice move. However, regardless of how fine of a product transmeta puts out, if Intel can keep this "SpeedStep" technology sounding As Good(tm) As Cruose, then Transmeta is at a disadvantage. It becomes a marketing game much like anything with Microsoft. Who cares if their product is better (or usually not), their Marketing department can make you think its just as good as anything else that is out.

  • EXACTLY. Making an ultra low-power processor isn NOT going to increase battery life very much on notebook computers. Those active matrix, backlit displays are what's eating up your battery. The Crusoe may have application in devices that don't require backlit displays, but...if it doesn't need a good display, what is it doing that it needs a processor as fast as a Crusoe? Crusoe is screwed.
  • I'll go ahead and say that I'm too dad-gum lazy to do my research here, but I'd just like to comment on real-world performance...

    All comments on the other power-sucking components aside(as they are irrelevant by my example, which is true), if the Intel mobiles (sounds like the toy! ^_^) are so easy on the power, then why don't we see battery life of Intel notebooks rivaling that of pre-production Crusoe notebooks?

    And remember: By the time Intel can fab a smaller die, Transmeta can, too.

    If anyone has any good info, I'd be glad to hear it.

    Personally, I used to prefer monster laptops to thin notebooks, as I just wanted more power. But these new Crusoes have more than enough power for the average mobile use, and they're just so *cute*! They've also set new records in simultanious thinness and power.

    Crusoe. Cute. (Same reason I use Linux--Cuter mascot! Kidding.)

    J. T. MacLeod

  • their last innovation was the pentium pro really.
    granted, not a huge leap from the 386. It definitely was an advance. However the Pentium 4 still uses the same core as a Pentium Pro. I purchased my ppro in 1996. Then another one that had this silly little 'ii' after the Pentium in 98. then I got an athlon because it at least has a core that wasn't designed over 5 years ago.

    nerdfarm.org [nerdfarm.org]
  • Topic: Transmeta
    Joe Q. IBM: Market competition... Intel... long term IIS strategies... SCSI RDMS domination...

    Joe Q. PowerUser: Where's my dual processor Athlon? I want it *YESTERDAY*!

    Joe Q. LaptopUser: What's a Transmeta? It'll never replace my Powerbook!

    Joe Q. Slashdot: I want one! What is it again? I bet it's slow and vaporware, whatever it is. Intel? Yuk.

    Joe Q. NASA: Cheap, low-power consumption, new and funky technology... I bet we could build a Beowulf out of these things...

    Alan Cox: What are we going to do today, Linus?

    Linus Torvalds: The same thing we do every day, Alan: try to take over the WORLD!
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • No, no, not the technology - the market. Suits like having things like numbers and statistics. Startups take risks, big companies like IBM stay alive by doing market research, compiling statistics, etc., etc. Oh, and they move reeeeally slow.

    Transmeta already proved the technology is mature - I have yet to see a negative review of the chip within the scope of their design goals. Yes, its performance isn't an Athlon killer, but it was never meant to be!

  • Transmeta never WANTED to be a "production machine".

    That quote is not referring to the word production as in a factory sense. They mean production as in producing notebooks based on the chip for the general consumer market. A product exists in two basic cycles, (research and) development and production.

    What the article is saying is that IBM has a laptop design in development for the Cruose, but might not take it to production (as in producing).

  • Just like our friends at the RIAA, who set the prices for CD's about 15x their cost

    Proof? You need to provide documented proof (e.g. a notatrized financial statement) that the amortized cost of the average CD, including production, distribution, advertising, artist royalities, laywer fees, manufacturing, and packaging, is 1/15 of its sale price to (not at) record stores. If you cannot do this, you need to take back your claim.

  • I have to agree on that... IBM still suffers from an odd lack of vision re future uses of "computers." (I stay "still" because, famously, one of the first IBM execs stated that the world could only use less than a half dozen computers!)

    For example, their wearable computer design relies on spoken data entry (a keyboard is just an option). Now, try to imagine wandering around on your morning commute -- whether walking past sirens, squealing brakes, and horns in the city; or in your crowded seat on the bus or train; or in your own car -- and talking to your computer. Okay, maybe if only one person is doing it, with very carefully calibrated directional mikes, it might work... but if we're all doing it? No way!

    This isn't a new problem: it was IBM which first came out with function keys along the top of the keyboard when everyone had just learned to key in the various ALT, CTRL, or SHFT fn key combinations in WP, etc. It is IBM which started moving the CTRL key around, and to this day continues the extremely un-ergonomic tradition of dark-colored keyboards on laptops. (If dark keyboards are such a good idea, just ask yourself this: how many separate keyboards one can buy as an add-on component come in dark colors? Oh, really? Wonder why not!)

    These are smart people; I know they are smart. (I know this in part because my father worked for them for decades; and they sponsored my National Merit Scholarship, so I worked for them summers. I've also taken their continuing education seminars; brilliant teachers run these. And they have great in-house research publications.) So why are their designers so dumb? Back in the mid-80's, another IBM engineer told me they'd just created a fully automated plant to build... typewriters! I couldn't believe it! (He argued demand was still high, and would justify the cost of the plant. I'll give you a hint: One of us was right about that being a dumb move.) IBM even have dedicated (printed) glossy magazines in the academic style for researching this stuff, and they still almost always get it wrong. How come?

    If IBM thinks a cheaper Intel/AMD chip would win over the Crusoe for a wearable (or long-life laptop), they've become even more clueless than usual. I don't care how cheap it is, I ain't gonna buy my fifth (sixth, if I count the old Model 100) laptop until what I want is out there: long (8-hour) battery life, lightweight (3-4 lbs. is good), with pluggable/modular storage components I can update as I please, and with good modular output and really excellent modular input. And for my major input module, I want a real, light colored, lightweight keyboard -- preferably one that is hinged in the middle so I can carry it around my neck when I'm mobile (and type as if I were playing an accordion). Yes, I'm serious. Listen, marketing guys, the CPU is in so many ways the least important part of the machine these days! As long as it runs my software, everything else about it is unimportant!

  • Remember, intel made some concessions to the DOJ a year or year and a half back in order to NOT be found to be a monopoly

    Proof please? Please provide documented evidence that Intel has changed its actions on a specific point due to DOJ intervention. The only recent antitrust legislation againt the company which I am aware of is the Intergraph case, which Intel won.

  • After the pentium was released, intel released the Pentium Pro. It was a fine chip in it's day, but it was basically a pentium with on chip L2 cache and higher clock speeds. Not much of an innovation.

    Your entire post is clueless, but this is the most glaringly incorrect. The Pentium Pro was three-way super-scalar, supported out of order execution, register renaming, supported 36 bit addressing, and had many other improvements over the Pentium. It has nothing to do with the Pentium aside from the common ISA.

  • It was all over the place last year in the news... The DOJ was coming down on them, they settled and agreed to change some of their practices and the DOJ dropped their suit. Do the research yourself. I'm not about to hunt through the quagmire of the web for it, but i know it exists... It's been referenced in recent Business Week (probably 2 monts old) issues as well, when BW was talking about how dumb Microsoft was for saying "neener neener" (that's a quote :) to the government, and then drawing comparissons to how Intel talked pretty hard until the last moment and then they gave in before going to court and risking being legally termed a "Monopoly".
  • Made for Portable products. Not something that you'll keep on your desktop ..

    People need to stick to what the crusoe was designed for.. quit trying to throw it in desktop machines..
    Hey, man, I'd LOVE to throw it in a desktop. There are times when I'm bothered by fan noise. A fanless crusoe, a fanless powersupply and a big enough cache that I could leave the hard disk off most of the time, and I'd have a GLORIOUSLY quiet PC. --

    So I lose a couple hundred MZ by installing a Crusoe... Like I really care. I do sysadmin not graphics rendering. About the only times I might miss that extra processing speed is when I'm playing Quake. Truth is that even Quake depends at least as much on your display board as it does on your CPU.

  • OS/2 (AKA "Half an OS -- Truth in advertising") is the worst possible example you could have used here. IBM pushed OS/2 as hard as they could for as long as they could, which is why we ended up with OS/2 Warp 4.0, which is still steaming doggy doo. The sad part is that OS/2 is in many ways technically superior to the Win32 platform(s), but the GUI (AKA Presentation Manager) is one of the worst GUIs I've ever used, and I've used a lot of them.

    What makes it even more pathetic is that OS/2 was running against Windows 3.1, and it was even then a 32 bit multitasking (with multiprocessor support) operating system. It cost about the same amount of money, but you just couldn't run it in the same amount of ram, which I think is half of what killed it (besides, as previously mentioned, the lame GUI. Any GUI which makes you use a different button to drag windows by default is lame.)

    Anyway, IBM kept OS/2 alive long past its prime. No matter how you sliced it, you've just made the point of the author of the comment which you replied to. (What a convoluted sentence.)

  • Look at the Palm - not even a fraction of the power of an Intel chip, and whips the pants off of any Win CE system (or whatever they've optimistically renamed it) in sales. You want stability (Linux), battery life (Transmeta)....

    The CPU price points at this end of the range just don't matter. You'll pay $50 more for the battery life - hell, a spare battery costs more than that. So unless Intel lowers its mobil CPU costs to 0 and gives them away when you buy the spare battery....

    On the other hand, we should be surprised if the devices which use the Caruso well come from IBM. They've designed some nice laptops around Intel for people who maybe don't need the battery life because they only use 'em for a half-hour at a time to revamp their Power Point shows. The Caruso devices will be for new markets, folks like me whose last portable was a KayPro II because the industry hasn't made something that's really handy enough to be worth using rather than pen and a notebook in the field.
  • You might check them out for a quiet PC solution, though I'm not sure when they'll be for sale in retail channels. Their performance isn't great (some benchmarks had a celeron 500 beating an 800 cyrix), but like you say, you probably won't miss the extra horsepower most of the time.

  • The benefit of Crusoe being power consumption, I just don't see any IBM products, other than their laptops that could benefit.

    Crusoe definately has the PIII beat in power consumption. That is for sure. I would have to say if I needed something that lasts for the long haul, it would be a crusoe, also, if I need it cool running and light. I still like to pack a fast processor in my laptops.

    Crusoe will be great for handhelds. I can see where IBM is coming from.

    Of course, x86 is a bit of a dinosaur, eventually the world is going to make the switch to a different processor. It is about time for x86 to move out and something new to come in. I think that the major holdoff on this is due to M$. The whole wintel stranglehold is a bit much to overcome. The real key to moving away from them is to get a device that is neither in popular demand, and that will take some doing. You won't only have to be better, you'll have to be DAMN better, and charge only slightly more (if you charge $500 more, people will think that you're the best, if you charge $1000 more, people will think that you're too expensive, if you charge less, people will think that you have to just to move your product).
  • Since AMD isn't working on the low-powered chips(to my knowledge) would Transmeta be able to sue for unfair competition practices?

    Actually they ARE working on low-powered chips. This was announced not too long ago. Here's the press release:


    Intel has every right to slash prices now that AMD has the Duron out competing with Celeron, and the K6-2+ with PowerNow!(tm).
  • Repeat after me: IBM is a lateral monopoly. It has operations from chip production to factory-to-user selling. Everything flows from one group to another.
  • Well.. that explains why Alan looks so grizzly..
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:37AM (#956419) Homepage Journal
    With Crusoe, Transmeta is playing in the second-most cutthroat market next to DRAM - the x86 CPU business. At one point, there were a plethora of x86 CPU's on the market. Now there is basically just AMD and Intel (I know Cyrix still exists through Via, but it's in a small niche until proven otherwise). And as much power as mobile chips burn, the other components burn as much or more power in operation, meaning that there will have to be some pretty darn compelling advantages to Crusoe for it to get design wins in traditional laptop systems. This is where Transmeta wants to play.

    The caveat to this gloom is that Transmeta's chips can also be used for newer, non-laptop devices that can use different components and lower power budgets than traditional PC laptops. Mobile Linux is a factor here, too - the chips usually deployed in this product space (Motorola Dragonball - Palm, Intel StrongARM - the late Newton, WinCE, and others, Hitachi SH3 - WinCE, and a few other chips, too) have excellent performance and are generally light on power draw, but do not offer x86 compatibility. Transmeta brings that to the table with much less power usage than the AMD or Intel alternatives. This will allow companies to leverage the existing x86 software base and Unix software much easier than other platforms do. The "post-PC" market is where Transmeta will live or die.

    The other thing to remember in this market is the cost factor. Intel and AMD already charge low prices for their mobile chipsets. Transmeta isn't trying to compete on a "bang-for-the-buck" basis, because they'll get slaughtered that way. Transmeta can't afford to go up against Intel directly like that, nor can they even afford to take on AMD. The answer is to "hit 'em where they ain't", to paraphrase Wee Willie Keeler, and play for the wireless, appliance, and PDA markets against those specialty chips.

    It's definitely do-able, and Transmeta may get a few design wins in the laptop market as well - but any laptop chip sales are almost gravy on top of the appliance market. There's room for another player there - why not Transmeta?

    - -Josh Turiel
  • Maybe some offers of desktop machines powered by these puppies would help their acceptance on the mainstream market. Why are they so much geared for the 'alternative' markets (note the quotes) of (ultra-)portables ?

    My point is that these processors (on paper) seem to have a potential as the part of a 100% quiet PC : since they don't produce as much heat as other x86 and compatibles, they could live without a fan, saving our mistreated ears and nerves.

    I'd be very interested in building a Transmeta-powered machine for my personal use, but -- correct me if I'm wrong -- there's no desktop motherboard available. That's a shame. Besides the fact that they would be more expensive than an Intel or AMD processor of similar performance, are there good reasons why we don't see any desktop offer ? Any clue about a mobo manufacturer who has plans on supporting these ?


    Have you checked out Badtech [badtech.com] The daily online cartoon?
  • Even though they make processors that are kinda archic, Intel kills the rest of the chip world with the number of fabs that they have, and the number of chips that pass specs. I have been told from friends who used to work there that Intel was not interested in the "best" processor, mearly a better one that got high yields per wafer of silica. It's all about buisness.

    As far as laptops are concerned, a more efficient processor would be nice, but maybe a harddrive that didn't suck up so much energy would help too. The Portables use flash memory (another Intel dominated field) It seems to me that unless Transmeta has some savy business sense, and locks up some Fabs, Intel is not going to worry very much.

  • Intel has already introduced it's own low-power processors, but they aren't as low power as the Crusoe. They use about twice as much power. This seems like a lot, but it is actually only a couple watts... The crusoe has other features though... for instance, because of the hybrid hardware/software design, the chip can be updated... Maybe six months from now, intel laptop owners will become envious when they see headlines like "Software update improves Crusoe performence by 50%" Or maybe they will come out with something like "The end of the ISA wars? Crusoe processor now runs x86 and PowerPC code on the same chip!" The possibilities are limitless...
  • I've always wondered just what Intel's new CPUs are doing when they get 1-2 watts. Maybe they're idle. The Crusoe uses that much when it's actively processing things and goes insanely low when it's idle, so I'm more interested in what Intel's CPUs do when they're doing the same.

  • AMD's brand new PowerNow! technology is way more advanced than Intel's power/speed levels because it can automatically dynamically change the power and CPU speed depending on processor load! For example, during DVD playback it'll use less power during slow moving scenes that are less CPU intensice to decompress. In practice this can make the difference between having the battery power to see the whole movie or now. I have no idea how they do this, but it works!

    Right now PowerNow is K6 only, but later this year there will be a "mobile Duron" chip that combines a Duron variant of the enhanced Corvette core (that will debut in Mustang) with PowerNow!
  • One product that can easily be help by the Transmeta processor is their Whistle internet appliance device (which runs FreeBSD), or any internet appliance running on an x86 processor.

  • by Zoyd ( 13778 )
    gordyf said,
    I've always wondered just what Intel's new CPUs are doing when they get 1-2 watts. Maybe they're idle.

    Intel's older chips pull 1/2 watt in performance idle, so "no": the new chips don't use more power idling than the old chips did. The power figures Intel quotes are for when they are running office apps.

    Intel's new CPUs don't consume 1-2 watts. They consume less than 1 watt. And they do this because they run at 1.1 volts. (Recent best low-voltages from Intel were 1.35v and, previous to that, 1.6v. {Crusoes max out at at least 1.6v}) Here is Intel's press-release page [intel.com]; it has a table of their current mobile chips at the bottom.

    It mentions that the power ratings (including the one for the sub-1-watt PIII) are for average power and links to a definition of average power [intel.com] which says,

    Average power represents the power consumed by the processor while running typical office applications by an average user. Average power is measured by running industry standard benchmarks, such as Ziff-Davis* BatteryMark* 3.0 or BAPCo * SYSmark* 98 for Battery Life.

  • Transmeta is privately held and has plenty of capital.
  • And if you just want to run Linux theres no need for x86 in the first place. Strongarm and SuperH chips already provide far more computing power per Watt as is, and once the new Strongarm and SH5 to put them on equal footing with Transmeta process wise the difference will be ridiculous.

    If power consumption AND x86 are issues then by all means. But if you remove the x86 requirement you'd be mad to pick Transmeta.

    So Transmeta only makes sense when its runding windows software, nice twist for what once was the ultimate Linux zealots wet dream.
  • "Madam, would you sleep with me for $1,000,000?"


    "How about for $1?"

    "What kind of woman do you think I am?"

    "We've already established that. We're just negotiating the price."

    -- joke (sadly, I don't know the author's name)

    Taking this to the topic at hand, at some price the idealism of Transmeta's stockholders will give in to cold hard cash. Indeed, the board of directors has a fiduciary duty to examine all offers -- they can't just ignore them because they want to.

    Because Transmeta is privately held, Intel could not mount a hostile takeover. This is the only difference in takeovers between publicly and privately held companies.

  • SpeedStep is a hack. All it does is make the CPU run slower when running on batteries.

    A Transmeta CPU will alter speeds and power consumption as it's running depending on the job at hand.

    IMHO it would be PR suicide for Intel to start comparing SpeedStep to Crusoe's power management.
  • What about the Thinkpad 240 or 570?

    They're not the best for portability or battery life, but they would be perfect candidates for what the Cursoe chip claims to be. Have you ever seen a 240?

  • "Intel's Speedstep technology allows lower clock speed and lower wattage. Surely what Transmeta is offering is not radically different to that. It will all depend on pricing," he said.

    According to Intel's PIII processor thermal design guide [intel.com], the mobile PIII requires up to 19W at 733 MHz. An activity like playing a DVD, around 3W. With Crusoe, playing a DVD requires 1W!! 66% savings is not radically different?!?! Real world benchmarks [transmeta.com] suggest similar savings for various applications. Intel has a ways to go to render this difference "not significant", and to deliver all day battery life.

    It seems like anyone can call themselves an "analyst" these days... Perhaps his only sources were Intel marketing materials?

    Il vaut mieux avoir l'air sans l'effet que l'effet sans l'air.
  • You are very wrong in most of what you said about Intel. First, you complain that the Pentium is "bloated." That's true. But they haven't been wasting their time for the last decade working on it... Are you honestly arguing that a Pentium III at 1 Ghz is not significantly more advanced, and of course much faster, than a 386 (which didn't even have an FPU?) Then you demean the pentium IV without backing up your "it doesn't matter" attitude. It may or may not matter, but I prefer to wait until it is released before I decide. Then you make the claim the the G3 and G4 are somehow "technically superior." This is vague and untrue. The Pentium III is faster (in real world benchmarks) than the G3 and for many applications the G4, thanks to it's higher clock speed. How are they more technically advanced? They use less power... but they are desktop chips, so who cares? It is all about speed, and the pentium is faster! You deride AMD and Intel's pissing match for the fastest x86 processor... but the most important attribute a desktop processor can have is how fast it is! And you completely ignore the Itanium, which though it may turn out to be completely flawed, is at least an innovation! Certainly more than the G3, which is just yet another PPC processor!
  • It's the ARM and Dragonball folks that should watch out.

    Hah! While the DragonBall is a nice piece of silicon (and very flexible as well), it is a pile of steaming doggy doo compared with the likes of ARM (especially the StrongARM) and TM3200/5400 processors. I mean, the DragonBall's fastest speed in a commercially available device (that I know of) is 20 MHz in the Palm IIIc/Vx (16 MHz in all the other models). That just won't cut it for anything larger than a Palm.

  • This is fun! Everybody, repeat after me!

    The right hand knows not what the left hand is doing.

    IBM isn't a `lateral monopoly'; they do have a lot of vertical integration, but for a lateral monopoly, you'd have a better case aruing, say, AOL.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • All Intel has to do is cut prices to squeeze transmeta out of the market

    You beat me to it. This is true, except for the fact that Intel would become the DoJ's next illegal monopoly target. It doesn't matter if there are a few other competitors such as AMD. If Intel were to slash prices until transmeta died, and then raised prices very high, the DoJ would be all over them.

    I like the idea the DoJ is starting to investigate many large US corporations for aggressive tactics to hurt their competition. Certainly Intel has been under investigation several times in the last few years, and each time they have promised to change their ways. And they've sincerely changed enough after getting their hand slapped. They don't want to get hauled to court and get engaged in a fight to the death like micros~1 is doing.

    Also, the knowledge transmeta has collected would not instantly cease to exist. The knowledge would resurface inside another Intel competitor, better funded and ready to do battle. So it is not in Intel's best interests to obliterate small competitors like transmeta, just try to corral them.

    the AC
  • On a general level, yes, but on the same token why doesn't IBM have it's employees use Apple computers? After all, they do manufacture PPC chips (now). On a more specific note, why do I have a Sun box and an WinNT box here on my desk at $other_ppc_manufacturer?

    These opinions are not those of $other_ppc_manufacturer.

  • i will concede that,yes the ppro was argueably the last major innovation from intel. however, the ppro was still released in 1995. for all of you people who haven't been paying attention, it's 2000 now. That's 5 years. we're still using the ppro core. kinda silly, no?
  • It is only illegal if Intel could be shown to be "acting in restraint of trade." Basically, this would mean Intel would have to cut prices to the point where they were losing money, just to put Transmeta out of business. (This would be similar to what Standard Oil used to do, before their landmark antitrust case.) But if they lowered their costs to the point where they weren't making much money, but weren't intentionally losing it, either, they might be able to push Transmeta out of business.

    In my opinion, Intel couldn't do this, anyways. If they only had Transmeta to deal with, it might be possible, but Intel is already at war with AMD, and they couldn't afford the cost (both in PR and economically) of something this extreme.
  • I asked Linus about this at PC Expo. He said that they had toyed around with the idea but decided it wasn't worth the trouble involved.
    I assume he meant it wouldn't have been worth it technically, *but* maybe they want to avoid any funny business with the GPL and the Free Software Community and they are just leaving it alone until they are more establish before they risk get entangled with the best ally they could have.
    If they release good information about optimizing for Crusoe to The Linux, *BSD's, and BeOS. If I were them I would be making some covert plans with Apple Computer also.

  • With the current market shakiness, transmeta's technology would be a steal for Intel. Intel should just pull a Microsoft and buy the competition instead of conpeting on technological grounds.
  • by carlhirsch ( 87880 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:07AM (#956445) Homepage
    I had always been under the impression that the reason Crusoe is such hot shit is that its power consumption is so low. So it's not blazing fast - big deal. Do you need to do 3-d rendering during your AM commute? Of course not.

    Besides, handhelds are where Transmeta is really going to clean up. It seems to me like Transmeta isn't really going head-to-head against Intel. It's the ARM and Dragonball folks that should watch out.

    What ever happened to the Crusoe Linux kernel that Linus was working on. Any news on that? I'm wondering - does it run in the x86 emulation mode, or in native and therefore faster Crusoe mode?

  • All Intel has to do is cut its prices dramatically to squeeze [Transmeta] out of the market

    Wouldn't that be illegal? I recall a lawsuit where smaller airlines sued the bigger ones for slashing prices just long enough to put them out of business. When the competition went away, the big airlined rasied prices again.

    Since AMD isn't working on the low-powered chips(to my knowledge) would Transmeta be able to sue for unfair competition practices? I'm guessing not based on this quote, but it seems that should Intel slash prices until Transmeta goes under, they could be facing a lawsuit.

    Being with you, it's just one epiphany after another
  • Do you think the Crusoe is a flash in the pan or not?

    It is very low power, without any competition in that arena, at least in the x86 market. So far, nobody is even trying to get into the same niche. If you want compatibility with a current microprocessor and need low power, where else do you go? You could switch to someting like ARM, but then you run into another set of problems.
  • by Nater ( 15229 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:32AM (#956457) Homepage
    Ok, suppose they do... then what? My bet is that if Intel buys Transmeta, Crusoe will be forgotten. Intel is a case study in NIH, that is, 'Not Invented Here.' ARM has been in the tank for years until just recently, despite the fact that it's a great platform. Why? Intel didn't invent it, therefore they're more than a little leary about marketting it. Things like the Pentium get out because Intel feels good about designing, producing, and marketting it in house. Maybe things are changing, but if the past is any indication (and it usually is) an Intel buyout of Transmeta will mean the death or severe beating of Crusoe.
  • by Chalst ( 57653 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:44AM (#956460) Homepage Journal
    IIRC there is a JVM interpreter for Crusoe already.

    Also the Alpha interpreter is much more efficient that the x86,
    according to this IEEE Spectrum article [ieee.org] which was posted on Slashdot a couple of months ago.

    In the short run, I think Transmeta have a hard fight on their
    hands just to survive. The Spectrum article hints that Transmeta were
    disappointed at the results they reported at Crusoe's unveiling, that
    they had expected a real showstopper. In the long run, I am convinced
    that this is a much, much better way to design processors.

  • by gtx ( 204552 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:49AM (#956465) Homepage
    confusious say:
    there's alot more to speed than megahertz (or gigahertz for that matter)

    when the pentium processor was released in 1993, (so it's not really a decade, but it's been long) it was supposed to be real fast, and everyone was supposed to love it. It debuted at a whopping 60 MHz. What intel didn't tell you is that the DX/4 100, and AMD's 120 MHz 486 ran faster. The pentium was a flawed chip, but everybody still wanted one, because it was new. Ever notice how linux will run on a 386? that's not a mistake. All current x86 processors have their root in the 386, intel's first 32 bit mainstream processor. After the pentium was released, intel released the Pentium Pro. It was a fine chip in it's day, but it was basically a pentium with on chip L2 cache and higher clock speeds. Not much of an innovation. Then came the Pentium MMX. 57 new multimedia instructions for the Pentium core. Intel promised that this would make all of our lives better because code would run faster. If the code in question was MMX optimized. That's a big IF. So then came the Pentium II. The pentium 2 was a pentium pro with MMX and L2 cache that ran at half processor speed. The pentium 2 was a one step forward and two steps back from the pentium pro. But people liked it because it was cheaper! Then came the pentium 3. The pentium 3 should never have had it's own product name. It should have been called a pentium 2. Now, the pentium 4 does have potential to be a good chip, but Intel is just killing it with it's senseless branding techniques. And don't get me started on Merced. Intel has been blowing smoke up our asses about merced for the last 4 years. I remember when they were saying that the Merced would be a "64 bit processor with speeds of up to 600 MHz." Intel's roadmap doesn't leave any room for it's pissing contests.
  • by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:09AM (#956468)
    I copied this off the IBM intranet:


    Transmeta Unveils Copper Processor Manufactured by IBM
    Crusoe(TM) Chip Poised to Revolutionize Mobile Internet Computing

    January 19, 2000

    Transmeta Corporation today ended four-and-a-half years of secrecy with the introduction of Crusoe(TM), the world's first family of smart microprocessors. In a foundry relationship with Transmeta, IBM is manufacturing the new Crusoe chip in copper at MD's Burlington, Vt., site.

    Transmeta's Crusoe processor family is based on a breakthrough software approach that will deliver on the market's need for "all day computing" with a PC-compatible, high-performance solution with low power.


    So, IBM is wary of a product they produce? I don't think so.

  • by CMiYC ( 6473 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:10AM (#956469) Homepage
    "Intel's Speedstep technology allows lower clock speed and lower wattage. Surely what Transmeta is offering is not radically different to that. It will all depend on pricing," he said."

    This goes to show how much Mr. Brown knows about the technical aspect. He seems to make it sound like all Transmeta has done is make a slimmed-down version of a Pentium. He is oblivous to how the Cruose works, and why it runs at lower power consumption levels than an Intel chip.

  • by ryanw ( 131814 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:10AM (#956470)
    I can't believe what I am seeing.

    Transmeta never WANTED to be a "production machine". Crusoe was designed to be a low power, close to Intel speed processor. Made for Portable products. Not something that you'll keep on your desktop ..

    People need to stick to what the crusoe was designed for.. quit trying to throw it in desktop machines..
  • "All Intel has to do is cut its prices dramatically to squeeze [Transmeta] out of the market".

    Does this remind you of Microsoft? To me if they did that that would be a monopolistic activity like trying to stunt their competitors. DOJ vs. Intel, and I wouldn't want Janet hunkering down on my chip.

  • I mean, if a guy who had been stranded on an island for 20 years told me he'd invented a new CPU, I'd be pretty wary too!
  • About what 1 W in Transmetas or Intels speech means, I've got a little explanation:

    The Crusoe consumes 1W while decoding and playing an MP3. Where Intel needs an 95% idle-rate to get below 1W. Thus, you can at maximum type some text (no images, looser!) on a "low-power"-pentium.
    Decoding a DVD, the crusoe just needs about 1.8 W.

    No, it's worse, intel "forgot" about the Northbridge, while it is included in the 1W of the Crusoe, a normal BX Chipset for the P consumes at least 2W constantly.
    say, to play an mp3, an Intel P would need approximately 6W!!!

    Read about this here [heise.de] (in german).

    READ THE SPEC, ALWAYS, EVERYTIME, AGAIN, NO FEAR -> (i'm outta here because i'm getting lazy too, ever read an intel spec? No?)
  • If by "interpreter" you mean the native firmware that translates the target instruction set into native code (which isn't an interpreter, its a runtime compiler), then there is none for anything other than x86 code. The article you linked doesn't mention anything other than an x86 emulation, and there have been several hints that it would be quite hard.
  • No, there is no real native mode. The different CPUs have different VLIW instruction sets.
  • Oops: quite so, about alpha emulation. That's what comes of posting
    stuff based on recollection. Actually I read somewhere else
    speculation that there would be Alpha emulation, and that this would
    be more efficient, but it is pure speculation. Apologies for
    reporting it as fact.
  • Where Crusoe would kick ass is in a low-price, low-power, high battery-life unit. Something with a small screen, smallish hard drive, ideal for just editing documents and downloading your email.

    That's not by any stretch of the imagination the type of laptop IBM makes. What Crusoe is good for is an overgrown web-tablet that does desktop-computing functions. What IBM makes are mean, power-hungry desktop-in-a-laptop-formfatctor machines. Why use Crusoe? It doesn't make any sense for them.

Anything free is worth what you pay for it.