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Does Transmeta Live Up To The Hype? 119

onion2k writes: "In this article on VNUnet, Toshiba are saying that the Transmeta chip doesn't quite live up to its hype. Bit of a strange thing to do considering Toshiba were one of the original investors, but hey, thats corps for you ..." Talks mostly about the power consumption of the chips. If you're following Transmeta, this is worth a read.
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Does Transmeta Live up to the Hype

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    TM based products are announced everywhere, but nobody's seen one outside a trade show. Where are they? Vaporware, Inc.?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I know someone that works at Sony and has been working on a Transmeta - equipped laptop for a week or so now. He says they're pretty good, just not quite as fast as a Pentium. According to him, a 600 Mhz Transmeta runs like a 450 Mhz Pentium II. As far as battery life goes, though, he says that the laptops equipped with them do last longer on batteries than you would with an Intel chip. So, besides them being a little bit slow they sound good to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Rand truly sucks.
  • It would require quite a bit of work - the current Transmeta chips have no concept of SMP, but also have the frontside bus and SDRAM controllers on-chip (basically, because their chip was so small they decided to just stuff it in there)
  • by Mr Z ( 6791 )

    IIRC, it stands for If I Recall Correctly.

  • Giving valuable feedback directly to the designers is one thing, pissing and moaning in the public press is another. The former is usually much more productive, the latter is more a case of "sour grapes."

    One would think (if Toshiba didn't write off their Transmeta investment already) that Toshiba would be most interested in maintaining Crusoe's public image while privately helping Transmeta make Crusoe live up to everyone's expectations. However, if Toshiba's given up on Crusoe as a viable platform, then they'd want to distance themselves from Crusoe publically and quickly, before they get too strongly associated with a flop.

  • Unlike movie stars, stocks usually are affected negatively by bad publicity and react well to good publicity. For Toshiba to damage potential payoffs from a successful IPO...

    Toshiba is getting 600k common shares from Transmeta. Maybe they want to lower the value of the shares initially, so that when Transmeta's processor ends up being the Intel Killer, that they've made a larger profit? just a thought..

  • Ummmm in some cases, any press is good press, but it's hardly good press when one of your investors starts dissing your products and therefore attacking your business plan just before your IPO. That's NOT good. If Toshiba was thinking "what's best for us and our investment in transmeta" the thing to say is not "yeah, their product sucks!" and sit back and wait for the IPO, it's to say things like "We're really excited by the Crusoe microprocessors and the adantages that are promised. We plan to rapidly deploy Crusoe chips across a number of our product lines".

    There are so many things in the world that Toshiba could have said, this really means that they're NOT AT ALL IMPRESSED by them. If this story keeps getting reiterated, and especially if other big name investors or customers come forward with the same story, things won't be looking hot for them at all.
  • No... But transmeta's been making all sorts of claims as to 8 hour or all day battery life. Toshiba's turning around and saying "we can't do that with currently available components".

    Maybe next, transmeta will recommend that they install 512 megs of ram and forgo a hard drive, just to get the battery to last a bit longer.

    Transmeta should have taken a second to look around the industry and really take an educated guess about what impact it would have given the current state of component supplies. But if they did that, their coing out party in January wouldn't have had the same impact.

    Same performance at 1/4 the power consumption vs.
    1/2 the performance at 1/2 the power consumption.

    Take your pick. I'm thinking the first claim will stand to have a lot more people lining up to buy one of their new CPU's... and without them being able to ship anything, so we can't find reviews, I'd think that it'd be pretty wise to listen to thier investors and customers.

    Next thing i'll be able to say that I created a car that gets 150 miles/gallon. But only when using this special gas. Oh and that gas, it hasn't been invented yet. So until then, my car is only going to get 30 miles/gallon. So line up everyone and rave about how one day you might be able to get your 150 miles/gallon, no matter how far it might be.
  • Those shares become useless if in the worst case Transmeta pulls back from their IPO because of increased questioning of the viability of their product. Or they become worth a LOT less than they could have been.

    Everything doesn't have to be a conspiracy around here, you know! Just because the fabled linus works there doesn't mean that they've managed to turn lead to gold. So long as the IPO roles forward, Transmeta gets as much as it gets. It could peak at $240/share or $15/share, they get what they sold their shares to the underwriter for.

    Bad publicity around their IPO doesn't hurt them so much as it hurts their investors who are looking to sell parts of their stake in order to recoup some of their investments.
  • I didn't say it wasn't interesting tech, obviously a CPU than can emulate other CPUs IS cool tech.

    I guess you've gotten to some of what I was getting at -- is the non-Linux/Unix/Slashdot/etc world really that hyped over Transmeta? I mean, once you factor out the Linus worshippers is the world actually beating a path to do their door or is this another compelling technology that will be lost in the shuffle?
  • Toshiba claims that the power consumption of the Transmeta chips is understated and that "this can be done with Intel chips". I don't understand how you pulled "sour grapes" based on performance out of that article.
  • Of course not. So? The rest of the world isn't interested in Linux either. (That sort of defines them.) But it doesn't matter.

    OTOH, Transmeta would be interesting anyway. I keep wondering whether or not they with come out with a version that emulates the jvm. That could be very interesting. And since it's a software emulator (well, microcode) they should be able to come out with several different models that emulate different languages. A p-Code emulator might actually revive UCSD Pascal. A Forth emulator. A ... BASIC? emulator. APL. Pick. BC-Algol. ... (that's all the interpreted languages that I can think of off hand). It seems to me that once you've emulated a pentium, these others should be quite simple. Some of them would need a few non-standard features to directly address the IO ports, but that's expected, and minor. And if they had one version with an EEPROM emulation module, then one could even switch from one to the other without changing hardware. All this in a single laptop!

    That would probably be more interesting than useful. After all, how many people would want to keep switching OS's? And file system compatibility would be a bit worrisome. But it should have enough specialty uses to be worthwhile, once the big market starts filling up.

  • >Would they? Given the Linus' standing, would
    >we care as much about Transmeta if he
    >wasn't involved?

    try to see past the end of your nose. The 'WE' that you used in your sentence is very important. It shows why the whole 'slashdot world' has whipped themselves in a frenzy over Transmeta. Most of the rest of the world doesn't really care much that Linus is there or not - it's an interesting point on a press release.

    Transmeta is interesting tech - and don't forget they have a lot of TOP chip design people there. It's only the incestuous linux community that keeps banging on the Linus drum. The rest of the world is ambivalent.

  • Let me guess,

    NEC VersaLite ???

    I'm using one now, and getting those same burns...
    Laptop006 (RHCE: That means I know what I'm talking about! When talking about linux at least...)

  • Did you read my entire post, or just the first line?

    My point was not that you preferred Transmeta because Linus works there, but you probably have heard about Transmeta because he works there!

    Do you regularly read up on low-powered CPUs that run x86 software? I don't, but I've heard about Transmeta. The first time I've heard about them is in an interview with Linus. There were rumors that Transmeta was making some sort of low-powered chip, but no one really knew what they were doing because they were so secretive about their business. It certainly drew my attention. Linus was the reason I first wanted to know what they did, then their web site continued my curiosity, then the rumors fueled it more.

    My point wasn't that you like to follow Linus around, but would you have known about Transmeta if Linus didn't work there? Would they have had the publicity that they have if Linus didn't work there? Would I be writing this if Linus didn't work there? No one knows...

    Ok, if you keep up on all the chips out there that are competing for laptops and PDAs then you probably would have heard of them. Do you know of any other chip maker that is producing low powered x86 chips? If you do, then did you mention them to your father-in-law as well?

    I have nothing against your scenario, I just was making a point that Transmeta used Linus to claim the spot light and that is how a lot of people have heard about them. So far I have yet to find someone that has heard about Transmeta and does not know who Linus Torvalds is! (well, your father-in-law now does, but that is because you told him!)

    Steven Rostedt
  • So, what we're saying is Toshiba still needs to save power on lighting (screen, backlight) and any hard disk or CD-ROM if they want a decent box. But if the Transmeta chip delivers almost 50%, it's still a major deal, especially if pricing is similar.

    On the other hand, a WebPad with 5 hours life is way better than a WebPad with 3 hours life. That's the difference between must-dock and dock-when-done. So Joe SixPak can use it for email and web surfing when watching the big game.

    It's up to Toshiba to power down the display and get better energy cost on that, Transmeta just supplies the chip.

  • It's the Bandwidth we need, the power savings, the battery life. When has Joe SixPak ever stress-tested his PC?

    Face it, a WebPad that runs at 500 MHz with a battery life of 8 hours is WAY better than one that runs at 750 MHz with a battery life of 3 hours. One is totally usable, the other is must-dock-or-die and a pain to use.

    Who cares what the max speed on your car is when the speed limit is only 70 mph? So, you've got a car that goes 200 mph top and I've got one that redlines at 125 mph - when will you use that speed? Probably never, or only once. But if mine gets twice the gas mileage - I win.

  • you should try the apple notebooks. My ibook goes 4-6 hours on one battery. Since you are microsoft free you can just run linux on any apple notebook, they run linux great and they use little power.
  • My father-in-law, for example, wants a laptop that doesn't double as a lap warmer. I told him about Transmeta, and he can't wait.

    I think many others share that.

  • You know, you're right. Why would I ever even look at a company that makes such cool claims? I mean, who cares about low power consumption? Not me, obviously. Who cares that the low power consumption is done while keeping x86 compatibility? Again, not me. The only thing I care about is a Finnish guy I've never met. Yup, you heard me, the only thing that could ever make me take a an interesting company seriously is the fact that they employ Linus. I mean, he's popular, so their product must be good, right? -end sarcasm-

    I happen to know someone who wants a laptop that doesn't run so hot. I happened to visit a webpage about a company making x86 compatible processors that run at ~1 Watt. I mention it to said individual. I don't know what you have against this scenario.

    In any event, this conversation is silly. I'm going back to work.

  • yes, I got your point.

    Explain this to me: Why does it matter?

    Right now I know about Transmeta and I am excited about their product. Would I know about them if Linus wasn't there? Frankly, I don't care. I know about them, and that's that.

    It's called word of mouth. I hear about a lot of things. Who cares why I do, I just do. Either those things are reason enough for me to listen, or they fly away with the rest of my short-term memory.

    The reason people (or, at least, me) got excited about Transmeta in the first place wasn't because of Linus, it was because of their secrecy. Transmeta has some of the most closed-mouth people I've ever seen. No one knew anything more than conjecture. That's why they became such a neat topic for discussion.

    So back to my question... Why on earth should I care whether I heard about Transmeta because of Linus or not?

  • I'm pretty sure that's illegal market manipulation, and if it was true, this particular case would be reasonably easy to prove, I'd say. (Note that IANAL)
  • Its a quote from "To kill a Mockingbird" which is a top book. Writing in the general fashion makes either yourself or the writer of a modern literary classic look foolish....
  • ...anybody have a copy?

    jim frost
  • If you go to,, and, you will see that PC800 RDRAM modules are not 8X as much as PC133 SDRAM.

    Now, I'm not backing RDRAM and Rambus, but do some research before you spout off any troll like comment.

  • I remember the prices of RAMBUS[t] when it came out as well. $1100 for a 128MB stick of PC800 ECC RIMM and the motherboards weren't that cheap either.

    I still agree that the cost of RAMBUS is still outrageous for what it provides. $400-500 for a 128MB ECC stick is still too much (although not as bad as what Sun charges for RAM :)

    I kinda went on a rant myself as well...
  • I couldn't agree more. With my desktop machines I expect performance. But with a laptop, I have gotten used to the idea that my 266 PII is just as fast as my PIII 650 for most things. In fact, the PII 266 is built better! It just seems to reason to me that, aside from the heat of current laptops, there is no reason to complain about performance. The processor just doesn't seem to be their performance bottleneck, and laptop harddrives don't seem to be getting faster by the day... There are too many tough engineering decisions to be made with a laptop to be consumed constantly with performance. Give me better battery life. Battery life I can trust without checking my power meter every ten minutes to make sure I am not about to have to shut down everything I am working on. And of course the processor is only part of the power consumption equation. But I would much rather use a laptop with the backlight intensity turned up to its maximum output rather than set in the dark while working so that I may get a bit longer life out of the battery. I usually profess to people to get the most laptop they can afford, simply because there is little hope for upgrading a laptop later on. On the other hand, lately people have become so obsessed with "My laptop weighs .2 ounces less than your laptop." that the manufacturers are actually starting to make the cases out of shit plastic that is poorly constructed and pieced together. I used to love Dell's laptops. Their new laptops feel like garbage because of the workmanship that goes into making them lighter. I have seen enough laptops with broken hinges and displays about to fall completely off to know that being able to sustain a considerable drop is far more important than chopping a few ounces off of the overall weight. The point I am trying to make is simple. Why sacrifice quality for quantity? (more or less)
    1) Battery life - quality
    2) Weight - quantity
    3) Processor speed - quantity
    4) Overall system performance - quality

    At least this is how I see it. And give me back the damn volume knob. It is ridiculous how all new laptops seem to adjust volume control through software. That pretty much sucks when the PC starts up and disturbs the atmosphere of the room with some annoying start up sound. Simple is better. Really.
    • What you need is a pair of the new Alcohol-cooled slacks.

    How do you manage that?

    Whenever I drink alcohol, my slacks always heat up.

    -Jordan Henderson

  • Heh. My friend burned himself with his laptop as well.

    I would have thought that one would remove the laptop _before_ the hot screw started searing away at one's leg, but YMMV.

  • Look at ARM, years of deployment from StrongARM 64 bit in servers down to hand-helds.

    But the StrongARM fails in one of the most critical positions: compatibility with just about any processor. Granted, x86 is the only place they have their software solutions placed in, but it shouldn't be too difficult to translate the likes of SPARC and Power architecture into their VLIW instruction set either (and in some cases, easier than x86).

    Granted, 64bit processing may still be a problem for the Transmeta processors still. Anyone know the answer to this question, and not under a Transmeta NDA?

  • Seeing as how Toshiba is an invester in Transmeta, I'm willing to dimiss this article as FUD. It makes no sense, but neither does the goverment.

    The TRUE test of this chip will be when Uncle Tom [] gets his hands on these chips and beats the crap out of them. Toshiba can label the chip vaporware as long as they want to but I'm not listening until I see the specs.

    "You'll die up there son, just like I did!" - Abe Simpson
  • we were all running computers that needed two-phase 208v and air conditioning.

    This is slashdot. Most of us probably are. ;)

    Seriously, I think you're right. Personally, I seem way to interested in Transmeta considering how much I'm looking forward to Sledgehammer, and actually don't like laptops at all (ie, I will almost certainly never buy a Transmeta chip).
  • But the StrongARM fails in one of the most critical positions: compatibility with just about any processor. Granted, x86 is the only place they have their software solutions placed in, but it shouldn't be too difficult to translate the likes of SPARC and Power architecture into their VLIW instruction set either (and in some cases, easier than x86).

    "Compatibility with just about any processor" would be a neat goal, but it's not necessary, and I've seen no sign Transmeta has even aimed at it in any practical way. The general concept of code morphing, and some of the techniques they developed for Crusoe, could be applied more broadly of course, but only if Crusoe is a success will any of that have a chance of coming about.

    What is, sadly, needed is x86 compatibility, and this is what Crusoe is designed for. Don't expect to see SPARC or Power emulation at any acceptible speed on Crusoe, ever. It simply doesn't have enough registers to do that, and it was never intended to do that. If Crusoe is a success, however, they could easily produce another chip later with the necessary hardware to emulate those chips, and a version of code morphing to accomodate them, but none of this will happen if Crusoe isn't successful in penetrating the mass market, which requires one and only one sort of compatibility - x86.

    Granted, 64bit processing may still be a problem for the Transmeta processors still. Anyone know the answer to this question, and not under a Transmeta NDA?

    No inside knowledge here, but it doesn't take a genius to read what's been publically released and realise that the Crusoes are not set up to run 64 bit code. The 3000 series is optimised for 32bit 386+ code, and the 5000 series is the 3000 series with additional hardware to handle the 16bit x86 codes that windows still uses in a lot of areas. Neither should be expected to handle 64 bit code as they are now. If software requiring that becomes popular, then we'll see - just a guess but I think the basic architecture wouldn't require a lot of work to adapt to it, so a chip that could handle it could be produced fairly quickly, if and when the demand materialises.

  • Of course in the end the technology will have to stand on its own two feet... only a released TM chip can disprove what Toshiba has said.

    Umm no. Toshiba said TM chips don't help them much, because their displays suck (power.) Nothing TM can do will disprove that.

  • Doesn't Intel make the StrongARMs? =)

    Of course. But it's not an intel design.

    As to being here now - well, the first laptops are scheduled to ship in what, September?

  • by Arker ( 91948 )


    That said, there is some truth to what you are saying, surely. But Transmeta is well known in the geek world because a lot of top geeks work there. Not just Torvalds, but also the likes of Robert Collins and Christian Ludloff and so on. There isn't a dummy on that team, it's a massive concentration of talent and experience, and it's hard to believe they can fail to have an impact.

    The StrongARMs are a very neat architecture. The sad thing is that, for now, the mass market is dominated by Windows, meaning it's tied to x86 compatibility, meaning that StrongARM simply is not capable of selling in the quantities that would bring their economy of scale up to match the Intel/AMD designs. So, neat as they are, they remain specialty chips at relatively high prices for what they do.

    Transmeta has the potential to change that, by offering chips that share most of the qualities of the StrongARM, but can still penetrate the mass market through x86 compatibility. Whether and to what degree that will happen remains to be seen, but the possibility surely has a lot to do with why so many of us (tinu) follow their every move. However things turn out, the potential is there for them to have some earthshattering impact on the computer world these next few years.

  • I'd love to see an 8-way desktop motherboard powered by Crusoe chips; 6 or 7 running my apps and one or two running code morphing software. It would allow blistering-fast SMP code to run, and unlike all other SMP options to date it wouldn't run in Space Heater Emulation (tm) mode!

    How many Transmeta chips could you put on a mainboard before taxing the standard 200W PC power supply?

    How about it Transmeta? Please?

  • Linus worship? ummm... I don't think that is even valid.

    #1. How about the fact that Paul Allen of previous MS fame and Bluetooth are purported to have invested in Transmeta?

    #2. How about IBM and their purported investment in transmeta?

    Now I don't know for a fact that either is true, but that information is of more validity to my interest in Transmeta then any 'Linus Mystique'.

    Also, I too, am waiting to purchase a labtop until longer battery life and cooler running chips are available but last and not least..

    Other then /.'ers, very few people I know can even pronounce Linus Torvalds name and the name 'Linux' properly so it seems improbable to me that Linus is quite the draw you seem to imply.

    Just another opinion and we all know opinions are like AH's, everybody has one. ;o)

  • When Transmeta pushes that the CPU consumes vastly less power just makes Toshiba look bad if Toshiba can't make all the other components consume less power.

    Also keep in mind that Toshiba is deeply committed to the Wintel paradigm. Toshiba *has* to support mobile Windows/Office 2000. That means they need:

    • Huge hard drives, to store the bloat (e.g., true color splash screens stored as *bitmaps*).
    • Big (128MB+) high-speed DRAMs, to hold the bloat (MFC/OLE/COM tends toward large working sets, and MSFT apps are bloated even taking MFC/OLE/COM into consideration).
    • Ultrafast CPUs, to support the bloat (software alpha-rendered desktop, for cryin' out loud!).
    • Full-color high-res LCDs, because MSFT software assumes color.

    Transmeta, on the other hand, has lots of opportunities with unconventional Linux-based approaches:

    • Small binaries mean smaller, lower-power hard drives are acceptable. Durable flash drives even become affordable (<$300). Flash can also go from zero-power to fully active instantly, whereas hard drives take forever to spin up. If you can fit on a flash drive, it's a power and speed win, but Win2k will never fit on flash.
    • Because they can rewrite Linux's memory manager, they can save DRAM power like *crazy*. Suppose they had a 16MB DIMM and a 128MB DIMM. During periods of low use they could page everything out of the 128MB DIMM and turn off its refresh, thus dropping its power consumption to ~0. But the 128MB DIMM would be available for things like sorting a big spreadsheet. The VM subsystem could detect thrashing and enable the big DRAM as needed. OTOH, Toshiba cannot do anything to manage Wintel's memory usage -- they're stuck powering giant DRAMs all the time.
    • Linux software can be made to work usefully on a transflective grayscale screen (even X apps can only assume the existence of two colors, called black and white, although they could be any contrasting colors). Anybody remember the HP200LX palmtop? It had such a screen, and could run all day on a pair of AA batteries. Plus the screen was readable under all conditions except darkness, including bright sunlight. Toshiba is mad because Windows sticks them with backlit color screens, which moreover are unreadable with sunlight or glare.

    I anticipate a new breed of notebook computers that are not designed around Microsoft's "desktop in a briefcase" paradigm. Rather, they'll be the "big iron" of PDAs, designed for long battery life and practical usefulness, not some cookie cutter assumption of what it takes to be a useful computer. Transmeta is well-positioned to take advantage of that market.

  • I'm sorry that i fired off that statement about RDRAM being 8x as much... i guess i should have rephrased it as "it used to cost as much as 8x that of SDRAM"... the way it remember it it used to cost around $150 CAN or so for 128mb of PC133 and $1000 CAN for 128mb of PC800 RDRAM. PC133 RAM has gone up in price and RDRAM has gone down in price so i guess what i thought no longer holds true.

    Anyway i only used it as an example of what i was saying... i'll try to be more careful about my posts from now on.


  • I didn't say that it was the case... i said it might be something like what i said... it was an example to make a point.

    I'll agree with you however and say that SOMETHING doesn't make sense... and that was the idea that i was trying to get across in my post...


  • Umm no. Toshiba said TM chips don't help them much, because their displays suck (power.) Nothing TM can do will disprove that
    Why then did they mention getting longer battery life using an Intel processor?:
    He added that Toshiba currently has prototypes of ultra-light notebooks with eight hour battery life using Intel rather than Transmeta chips. "This can be done with a standard Intel box," he said.
    If it's their displays are the issue then what good would changing the processor do? By the Toshiba product marketing managers own admittance TM processsors "... give(s) a 30 to 40 per cent increase in battery life..." so why not reap the benefits of their investment and gain that extra 30-40 percent?

    Maybe i'm the only one confused by this article...


  • And would you have suggested Transmeta if Linus was not working there?

    Not to say you wouldn't. I don't know how many other low power CPUs are out there. I know Intel is trying to make some.

    What about the G3? Show me an iBook with a CPU fan in it. I dare you. For that matter, show me an iMac with a CPU fan.


  • After reading the article, I'd say it looks like Intel probably offerred Toshiba more in marketing dollars than Toshiba had already invested in Transmeta. Or someone's just looking to boost his shares of Intel. At least the article's fair, and gives Transmeta a chance to respond.
  • It's very simple: it depends on what you do with it. If you run something which takes 100% CPU all time then the transmeta chip will heat up and use lots of battery. If you do what most people do: reading something on the screen or decide which key to press next while the CPU is idle 99.9%, then the CPU will use basically no battery. However, you still need power for the display. In other words: it's great for web pads or word processing. It's bad for number crunshing and maybe some types of games.
  • From what I have heard, is that the new Mobile AMDs goble up power like nobodies business, I am not too sure about intel though, I have heard they are a fair bit better.

    But Surely if Transmeta can live up to there claim that they have very low power processor, which use less power when not being used a lot, then they will be very competative, because what people want it to be able to run the handheld/laptop/notepad for hours and hours, not just 3

  • Linus was obviously drinking too much of this when he decided to work for Transmeta.

    The question about the Crusoe is WHY?

    Power consumption an issue? NO! Code morphing just makes the thing cheaper, not much less power hungry. Either you have a lot of transistors doing one thing very quickly, or you have a few code morphing transistors doing the work of many. Either way, the code-morphing transistors have to work somewhat longer to do the same thing... The MHZ would have to be faster to achieve the same throughput. And not like Intel can't do something similar if they felt like it.

    Cheaper? Well, thats good, if you're getting something of equal speed. If it's slower too, I might as well buy an old 386 chip.

    Processor emulation? Code morphing allowes for multiple processor emulation, such as ARM, so they'll take some of that market. Just what kind of application can anyone here think of that needs both, so a custom CPU like an ARM is bad? The apps are too different to greatly need a CPU that can do both.

    Faster? I don't think so.

    Code morphing is a neat idea, but I don't think it has a definable need in the market just yet, so I can't see how it won't flop, regardless of my feelings towards this innovative tech.
  • Why not build a processor that produces energy?
  • Err... isn't the point that Transmeta is supposed to do better when you are using it in real-world situations, where it's idle 90% of the time? So, if you're running a Q3 demo that maxes the CPU out constantly, how, exactly, is that going to show that Toshiba is wrong?


  • by hawk ( 1151 )
    They get 600k shares, plain and simple. They aren't paying the IPO price, but receiving the shares in return for the technology deal. None of the prices until the day they sell them matter--not even a little bit.

    hawk, wearing his econ professor hat
  • What you need is a pair of the new Alcohol-cooled slacks.

    hehe... I wear fire resistant refrigerated cooling vests [] when at work and riding my bike in 100+ degree heat, but I never thought of wearing such protective wear while hacking on the laptop.

    The only protective wear I would like while using the computer might be a helmet and gloves while playing video games. It might be a few years before tactile feedback technology progresses to that point.
  • Try to find an old tandy model 102. Those will
    run 20 hours on 4 aa batteries, and have a text
    editor, an address book, built in 300 baud modem,
    telecom program, and you can get a snazzy 8085
    assembler for it, all in a form factor that puts
    most laptops to shame.
  • You use that phrase a lot. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    "Sour grapes" is to take the stance that, upon learning something is unattainable, it must not be desireable. I.e., if I said "Lear Jets are lame. They are ugly and smell funny," it would be sour grapes. If I said "VWs are lame. They are ugly and smell funny," it wouldn't be. Because I can afford the VW. Note that the truth value of either claim is irrelevant to their status as being or not a 'sour grapes' remark.

  • However, you do forget that the Palm device is mostly going to display just on a small LCD panel, and its functionality is pretty much a replacement for a DayTimer book for the vast majority of users. In that case, you don't need ridiculous amounts of CPU horsepower to get things going.

    The problem for Transmeta is that they may have to better-define their niche between the CPU's used on Palm-like devices and full-blown x86 CPU's. With x86-compatible CPU's dropping in rapidly in power consumption, especially when both AMD and Intel plan to use the 0.13-micron process CPU's within the next 18 months, it's possible that people who manufacture "webpad" units will end up with a 500-600 MHz super-low-power AMD Duron or Intel Celeron mobile CPU running Linux, BeOS, etc.
  • the article appears to be slashdotted already, but I would guess, since Toshiba is one of the main investors, this is an attempt to get the name Transmeta out there to be seen and heard a bit more before the IPO. No such thing as bad publicity and all that...
  • Well, Toshiba's probably in one of the best positions needed to make a (I don't know if it's appriopriate to say:) unbiased statement. Or at least they have no anti-transmeta feelings for slashdot to jump all over. They own a chunk of Transmeta, which means that if it were possible, they'ed want to be making good statments about them. They're also in all likelihood receiving chips from Transmeta as we speak, testing them and evaluating them, so they're not just speaking on guesswork, as the rest of us are :)

    People should step back and say "If Linus had never worked there, would I still be at all interested in this company? Or for that matter, would I have ever heard of it?" In most cases, no and no.
  • The fact that the CPU is not the main power draw is possible.
    But it's for sure the most concentrated source of heat (thus the requirement for air intakes and fans), maybe en par with the hard drive.
    It is possible that Transmeta's claims be overestimating the true benefit, but it's a step forward and an heat source on my lap I'll gladly do without, especially considering that CPUs, especially on laptops, are idle most of the time.
  • by GC ( 19160 )
    Transmeta still have a Code Morphing Trump Card up their sleeves that they could play?

    Don't they?
  • Does Transmeta Live Up To The Hype?

    No. Can Transmeta live up to the hype? Yes. Will Transmeta live up to the hype? That remains to be seen.

  • And would you have suggested Transmeta if Linus was not working there?

    Not to say you wouldn't. I don't know how many other low power CPUs are out there. I know Intel is trying to make some.

    Transmeta played it smart. They hired a very well known programmer, who developed a successful OS that has a lot of followers (Although Linus did not write all of it, he does get credit for starting it). Then to have him in every interview, when asked what he does, to reply only with "cool stuff". And to top that off, have a web site that only tells you that "it's not here yet", knowing they will have lots of visitors trying to figure out what Linus does. Than taking all that suspense and introducing your tech with an ending like "Survivor". This has brought Transmeta to the front of the stage. Linus may not be the reason for Transmeta's cool stuff, but he helped make them noticed.

    Yes there are those that don't give a rat's ass about Mr. Torvalds, but as long as he is in the news, so is Transmeta. We all know that having your company name known by many helps in the business world.

    Conclusion, Linus helped Transmeta get to be in the spot light. But it is up to Transmeta to stay there by their own merits.

    Steven Rostedt
  • I think you're right - it's all about the real world pricing. The killer app is the sub-$500 info appliance - like a webpad (fridge-dockable), an MP3 Net Radio, an email clip-on, something small and relatively inexpensive. And the killer for small form is power consumption.

    So, even if it only gets by on 1/3 of the power at the same price, it wins the war for the small form, since that means my web pad, which I will pick up and put down and leave for 10 minutes while cooking dinner, now runs all evening on a charge instead of the Wintel version which runs 1.5 hours, so I have to keep remembering to dock it when I'm not using it.

    That's the killer app - the Show Me The Money question - can Joe SixPak and Mary Moolah use it as a toy or do they have to RTFM and think about it.

  • Stranger things have happened. Maybe Bill G made a phone call and wanted to snot Linus since he's losing the server war (latest IDC specs show MSFT is number 2 and sinking fast).

    Remember too that MSFT is coming out with their X-box, so maybe they want to kill the competition with FUD and the night of the long knives ...

    [yes, I own MSFT and RHAT stock, so I win either way, but I don't own Toshiba]

  • This is exactly what I was thinking. Transmeta claims their processor uses much less power, and so it extends battery life. Toshiba isn't disputing that, so Transmeta isn't the problem.

    The prob appears to be Toshiba's choice in LCDs.
  • If the backlight is using 1/4 of the power in notebooks now, surely no one expected Crusoe to alter that (well, it'd be a higher ratio, but the same amount of power), so why's it being mentioned?

    I have to agree that 5.6 lbs isn't Ultra Light. How much weight can be saved by not having to design in the cooling systems required by Intel chips?
  • This is what gets me about the transmeta issues... Lowering power consumption on the CPU is all well and good, but it's useless without reduced consumption on the screens, on the hard drives, CD/DVD drives, etc.

    The CPU isn't usually even the main power draw...
  • I've got an Angel 6700, and at first I did get the 3 hours of normal operation out of it I was promised. (it was neat playing on the internet during power failures for a couple hours :-) )

    Of course now that the battery is two years old and basically worn out, I get around ten minutes.
  • The two chips are not even in the same market.

    Please read the article.

    Toshiba's comments were strictly with regards to the usefulness of the technology in x86 Laptops - where they said the power consumption was not such a big deal since a large percentage of the power was spent on the backlight and hard drive.

    Microsoft's chip is not x-86 compatible. It is targetted at the "internet appliance" segment. Toshibas comments do not apply to that market segment at all.
  • It's clear that Transmeta began as an academic exercise in exploring a new kind of computer chip that converted the instructions on the fly.

    No. That is not really it. Hardware designers knew that there were lots of things with significant advantages over x86 instruction sets. The downside is that the dominant piece of software runs on x86, and that is not going to change anytime soon. Also, x86 is really inefficient in power consumption.

    Therefore, the appropriate compensation is software recoding of x86 into a more modern and efficient instruction set. As a bonus the power consumption is really low for the resulting speed.

    Did it work ? Only another year will tell. It has certainly made Intel/AMD sit up and take notice that for laptops at least - they were dropping the ball. The 2 hour laptop to run Windoze is inadequate. When I am on the road giving talks and such I want all day performance. Transmeta will provide the CPU end that suits that goal. Of course, a laptop is more than just a CPU, but 1-2 years ago Intel/AMD cpus got hot enough to fry eggs on.

    People are happy to argue that Mac laptops already suit this goal - but they cannot run Windoze and thus are marginalized before they begin.

    Microsoft has no interest or motivation to port Windoze to other architectures - they suck badly enough trying to keep it running on one. (Don't argue to me about Alpha Windoze - I've used it - and I predict McKinley Windoze will suck badly enough to keep people on 32bit x86 machines indefinitely.)

  • If you're so insecure about your sexuality that you need a big black laptop to compensate for your inadequacies - get a G3 Powerbook (or hell, the graphite iBook).

    The rest of us are quite happy to use quality hardware that doesn't double as a hot plate.


  • As to being here now - well, the first laptops are scheduled to ship in what, September?

    I'll believe it when I see it. =)

    Transmeta's been making a lot of noise lately. It's time for them to put up or shut up.


  • Doesn't Intel make the StrongARMs? =)

    Nevermind, IMHO Transmeta needs to make these chips available yesterday. Right now, it's vapourware. Sure, they've demonstrated a few prototypes, but if they keep lolly-gagging along like this Intel and AMD are going to blow right by them.

    x86 compatibility is only necessary when everybody else is using x86 processors. However, with Intel clearly stating that their next-gen processors are doing away with that giant albatross, Crusoe just doesn't look all that appealing as a mass-market alternative anymore.

    Moreover, with more and more producers promising VLIW processing, Crusoe becomes just another fringe player.

    I like Transmeta and I like Crusoe. But they need to have it out there, now. Otherwise, they're going to join Nextstep, Amiga and OS/2 in the Whatever Happened To? Hall of Fame.


  • IIRC from the original news release (which I watched the webcast of, along with everyone else on Slashdot) Transmeta did not claim that the processor alone more than halve power requirements, but that the rest of the device would also have to be designed in a power conscious manner and that they were working with OEMs to meet that goal.

    So whats the big deal? That double battery life requires more than just swapping a chip? I just don't like seeing Transmeta taking flak for something that I don't recall them ever saying in so many words.

  • What Transmeta wanted to do was create a low power consumption chip, which they have. I know they claimed that it would work for 8 hours, but not all claims are valid. It doesn't mean it doesn't work for 8, just not on the Toshiba notebooks. All I hear is numbers being thrown around and a lot of speculation. What this battle needs is true standardised testing; then this whole fiasco of standard battery life and rumors may be quelled.

    Even the samurai
    have teddy bears,
    and even the teddy bears

  • Yes, but the recent story about Transmeta linking up with AMD talked about the link-up helping to boost crusoe's speed up to the Ghz levels of other chips.

    Then again, maybe Toshiba didn't want them to link up with AMD?
  • And where does the heat come from? The battery power.

    By lowering the CPU cycle speed, the voltage required is less, and you have less heat.

    Also, I would expect any power management portable to automatically park the hard drive, and turn off the LCD after so many minutes of inactivity (user would determine the time as to their work habits.)
  • Next thing i'll be able to say that I created a car that gets 150 miles/gallon. But only when using this special gas.

    A better analogy would be that your 150 mpg engine is getting dissed by manufacturers because it only gets 75 mpg when they slap it into a Humvee.

    Crusoe may or may not live up to the hype, but when Toshiba says the backlight on their laptops takes 25% of the laptops' power and then goes on to complain that Crusoe only improves battery life by 40%-50%... Well, that would indeed seem to indicate an engineering problem; I just don't think it's Transmeta's.


  • I work for a big corporation and I can say that it is unusual for any company to say its product doesn't live up to the hype. What we (not me, but others in my organization) normally do is come up with strange configurations of our hardware that make these amazing claims possible. Its suprising to hear anyone say that something they have a stake in is not living up to the hype. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. What could the ulterior motives be? If the motive is that they plan to use these in Toshiba notebooks and that won't work, good for us. I want a wearable computer anyway (which won't need a stupid backlight). My guess, however, would be that it's going to suck a lot worse than anyone is letting on. Call it pessimist's intuition :)
  • Dude. The article was about P-O-W-E-R C-O-N-S-U-M-P-T-I-O-N. Yes, Toshiba was bashing Transmeta for a failure to deliver on expectations.

    Most of the TM bashing I've ever heard is that they use completely contrived benchmarks that put little-to-no load on their chip to fabricate these completely ridiculous power numbers so they look great against Intel and AMD.

    Then of course they neglect to say that in the low-power notebook market, the CPU only consumes about 25% of the power. So even if they reduce their power consumption to 0, they could only improve battery life by 33%.

    I think you are misinterpreting the arguments. People seem to me to be saying they don't want to take a serious performance hit if all they are getting in return is a small power savings.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:20AM (#828257)
    they are slashdotted, so here it is
    (posting as anonymous coward, since this is
    obviously karma whoring :)

    Toshiba questions Transmeta power claims

    Toshiba has poured cold water on Transmeta's claims about the low power consumption and heat generation of its Crusoe chip, despite the fact that it is an investor in the chip startup.
    Transmeta claims that Crusoe increases battery life in lightweight notebooks to eight hours, more than doubling the two to four hours provided by equivalent Intel chips. It also claims that notebooks running the chips are quieter as Crusoe does not need noisy cooling fans.

    However, Steve Crawley, Toshiba UK's product marketing manager, said that the company had no plans to introduce Crusoe into future Toshiba products.

    "[Crusoe] does give a reasonable increase in battery life, but nothing like Transmeta's publicity is claiming. The back light consumes a lot of power - one quarter of the power is used pushing light out. Realistically, in sub-notebooks it gives a 30 to 40 per cent increase in battery life," he said.

    He added that Toshiba currently has prototypes of ultra-light notebooks with eight hour battery life using Intel rather than Transmeta chips. "This can be done with a standard Intel box," he said.

    "It is an interesting technology but at the moment we are not convinced it offers the user what is required. It will be very interesting to see if it can add any significant value to the end user in terms of battery life or thinness," he said.

    But Transmeta contested Toshiba's claim, saying its eight hour notebook was too heavy to be classed as an ultra-light device.

    Ed McKernan, director of marketing at Transmeta, said: "Toshiba's eight hour battery life today requires a 2.2lbs battery attached to the base of their Portege 3440 and 3480 notebooks. This means that [it] ends up weighing 5.61lbs - which is outside the ultra-light category of 2lbs to 4lbs."

    "Transmeta's Crusoe processor is today being designed into products that will arrive in the fourth quarter and first quarter [of next year] with all day battery life. In addition, it is providing relief to original equipment manufacturers and designers that must deal with the heat caused by the hot processors - even Intel's 'one watt' processor," he added.

    Toshiba agreed a licensing deal with Transmeta in February 1998, following the signing of a similar deal with IBM in December 1997. The deals, which gave Transmeta access to IBM and Toshiba technology in return for the right to use Transmeta technology in x86 products, provided the startup with much of its early revenue.

    Transmeta subsequently reacquired the rights granted to IBM and Toshiba to manufacture and market x86 compatible products. It agreed to pay IBM a total of $33m over the next four years and issued 600,000 shares of common stock to Toshiba. IBM and Toshiba retain a licence to manufacture, market and sell non-x86 compatible products incorporating the licensed technology.

  • It is fair to say that the Transmeta "hype" overstates the importance of the decreases in power consumption, from several perspectives:
    • The approach taken with Crusoe is not the only possible approach.

      Intel and AMD are likely to take other approaches, and improve power consumption. Perhaps they will not get as favorable results, but "close enough" is good here, much as with horseshoes and nuclear hand grenades.

    • The CPU is not the only thing that "burns power" on a laptop.

      Having a CPU that consumes ten times less power is of limited value if the hard drive and LCD display still suck (power).

      When Transmeta pushes that the CPU consumes vastly less power just makes Toshiba look bad if Toshiba can't make all the other components consume less power.

      "Politically," this is probably what they're pushing back at...

  • One of the primary reasons for the lower power consumption claimed by Transmeta is that the chip area is much smaller - Pentium compatibility is achieved in software instead of transistors.

    Wait a second... doesn't a smaller chip area mean that it's supposed to be significantly cheaper, too?

    I guess it could have been much cheaper than a Pentium, but they have a huge investment to cover so they are going for a high-margin market by targeting manufacturers that desperately need something other than price - lower power consumption.

    So what do you do if the CPU isn't the only power hog around?

  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @08:33AM (#828260) Homepage
    So Toshiba's backlight is a power hog and that's Transmeta's fault?

    You don't understand. The question is not one of "fault" -- we are not trying to find somebody to blame. The question is whether it makes sense to make long and expensive efforts in order to reduce the CPU power consumption when it may not be all that important. Especially given that it involves performance trade-off.

  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:30AM (#828261) Homepage Journal
    Why would Toshiba diss a company they have invested in before the IPO if their claims do not have substance?

    Unlike movie stars, stocks usually are affected negatively by bad publicity [] and react well to good publicity []. For Toshiba to damage potential payoffs from a successful IPO by badmouthing Transmeta must indicate that all is not kosher with the Intel killer.

    Hanlon's Razor
  • by {LF}Ceres ( 115933 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:54AM (#828262)
    ... that's all i'm hearing from the article. Now, tell me ppl, why would an investor in TM actually go out in public and say that before they have even released a chip? Doesn't it go against conventional PR logic to do this? I know for a fact that large companies will NEVER relate to the public that their technology is anything less than "the best in the world".

    I mean take a look at Intel and RDRAM.. RDRAM is 8x more expensive than PC133 SDRAM and yet performes only marginally better (from what i have seen through numerous benchmarks). It's pretty obvious that RDRAM is a sub-par tech that Intel invested in and Intel seems to be QUITELY moving away from RDRAM... however u don't see Intel denouncing RDRAM by officially saying "RDRAM sux, we trying to phase out the usage of it, but we are trying to save face".

    Assuming what i say is true, what reason would Toshiba have to do this right before TM's IPO? Now i'm not a big fan of consiracy theories, but it looks like there might have been a falling out between Toshiba and TM. Something like "Ok TM u fuc*ed us over, now we are going to fuc* u over by screwing up your IPO".

    To me, i think that BECAUSE Toshiba is an investor in TM, it lends them LESS credibility to say things that will give TM (and therefore themselves) bad PR.

    Of course in the end the technology will have to stand on its own two feet... only a released TM chip can disprove what Toshiba has said.


  • by Elvis Maximus ( 193433 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:54AM (#828263) Homepage

    "[Crusoe] does give a reasonable increase in battery life, but nothing like Transmeta's publicity is claiming. The back light consumes a lot of power - one quarter of the power is used pushing light out. Realistically, in sub-notebooks it gives a 30 to 40 per cent increase in battery life," [Steve Crawley, Toshiba UK's product marketing manager] said.

    So Toshiba's backlight is a power hog and that's Transmeta's fault?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:16AM (#828264)
    The problem with Transmeta is that their entire business plan depends on being bought up by Microsoft. The bait is Linus. They want to use him so M$ will buy up the company and make him work 2 days a week at a minimum wage job so he and his family starve to death in the valley. This is why minimum wage should be $80 / hour, so all those people raising their families working only a couple days a week can afford to live in dignity.
    How do I know all this, well let's just say that I have nice paychecks coming from two of the companies in my comment, but I won't say which.
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @07:42AM (#828265) Homepage Journal
    I hear the backlight argument suggesting the power consumption by the CPU is not too important when it comes to battery life. Could someone please explain why the underside of my notebooks feel like toaster ovens in my lap, sometimes leaving burns if I'm wearing my shorts? I'm not joking about the burns.

    This is right underneath the CPU area, but the whole underside of the laptop gets nice and toasty too. Nothing like a nice, sweaty laptop. The Crusoe processors might be a nice change.
  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:25AM (#828266)
    I think what Toshiba may be discovering is that the semi-software solution to running CPU registers may not be the best solution to run operating systems reasonably fast.

    Besides, note that Intel recently has made massive strides in reducing the battery drain of their Celeron/Pentium III CPU's designed for laptop operation. And AMD is heading towards that direction by going to a 0.13-micron process for their mobile Duron/Athlon CPU's to be released within the next 18 months.

    Transmeta will have to crank up the speed of their CPU's substantially if they are to stay competitive against these new generations of AMD and Intel mobile CPU's.
  • by geoffeg ( 15786 ) <> on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:21AM (#828267) Homepage
    Maybe Transmeta can get out of the processor business and invent a technology that prevents sites from getting slashdotted. Oh, wait, there allready is such a technology, its called mirroring!

  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:21AM (#828268) Homepage Journal
    I think people should probably reserve judgment until units actually start to ship. Only by observing the real world performance, both at the CPU/throughput level and the power management level, will we really know if Crusoe will live up to the hype.

    I for one can't wait to get my hands on a unit to evalutate. Hey, a good battery test would be to run the Q3 Quaver demo over and over and over....hey, if the Crusoe really does optimize on the fly, then my framerates should get higher with each interation! ;-)
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:04AM (#828269) Homepage
    Bit of a strange thing to do considering Toshiba were one of the original investors, but hey, thats corps for you

    "Hey thats corps" what is this supposed to mean. Toshiba have one of the best hardware R&D arms around and were as stated one of the people behind Transmeta.

    How about this for an idea....

    Transmeta is good, but not that good, its not a revolution its just pretty good. The hype accorded to Transmeta is way out of kilter with its proven ability. Look at ARM, years of deployment from StrongARM 64 bit in servers down to hand-helds. So what have Transmeta actually DONE ? Very little indeed and yet judging by the hype hear on Slashdot they are the successor to Intel, they will triumph, their technology is much better than anyone elses.

    Now look at how Microsoft hyped Win2K before and after its release. Do you see a difference ? The only one I see is that MS have delivered something.

  • by deefer ( 82630 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:16AM (#828270) Homepage
    Is it possible that Transmeta haven't delivered what Toshiba wanted? IIRC, the Crusoe was supposed to be blisteringly quick and consume little power. Now it is released, it is just low power consumption processor.
    Maybe Toshiba are just annoyed it didn't work out for them...

    Strong data typing is for those with weak minds.

  • by Christianfreak ( 100697 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:08AM (#828271) Homepage Journal
    I heard on CNN yesterday that Microsoft's new chip for set-top and hand-held devices would be made by Toshiba, is it possible they are whining now so when they introduce M$oft's chip all other compeditors are discredited?

    Never knock on Death's door:

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @08:43AM (#828272) Homepage
    Remember that the original idea behind Transmeta was supposed to be that just-in-time recompilation to a cleaner architecture would yield higher performance with a simpler CPU. That didn't work out. Then the emphasis was on reducing power consumption, which was a niche Intel hadn't addressed aggressively enough. But it's not that Transmeta's CPUs really use less power when working; it's just that they have more standby modes for when they're not. That's something the other manufacturers can easily address if they want to, because that's independent of the "code morphing" stuff. So we'll probably see more standby modes, and more OS support for them, in the mainstream CPUs.

    So what is Transmeta for now?

  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:51AM (#828273) Journal
    8 hours? Bah. A MacPortable got 4-6. And it's carrying case would hold a second batterry.

    And 2.2 lbs? so what. The batteries were 5 or 6 lbs--quite handy as a security measure: if someone tried to steal it from you, you pulled the battery out of the case, and let them run off. Cassually follow them until they tire from teh weight, and then hit them over the head with the spare battery.


  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:31AM (#828274)
    Would they? Given the Linus' standing, would we care as much about Transmeta if he wasn't involved? Is a lot of the interest in Transmeta because of Linus works there or is it because there's this huge demand for low power CPUs? The way I read Transmeta stories/postings/etc its as if we'd never seen a low-power CPU before and we were all running computers that needed two-phase 208v and air conditioning.

    You'd think if it was just low power CPUs people would be into all kinds of StrongARM solutions (not that some aren't, mind you, but there's no Linus mystique). I know the emulation, which is only x86 as of yet anyway, part is cool but at the same time I can't help but think that its 50% cool tech, 50% Linus worship.

  • by Mr T ( 21709 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:18AM (#828275) Homepage
    They been sampling chips, there are prototype products made out of them and I still don't know anything real about it's performance. Their homepage has this odd ball performance/power consumption type benchmarking information.

    If I was to buy a K6-II+ notebook and a Transmeta notebook (assuming that the transmeta didn't cost twice as much which is likely will, from what I hear) which one would be faster? If I buy a Sony VAIO with a Celeron or P3 in it and a Transmeta notebook, which will be faster? Are these supposed to be Cadillac notebook chips? Or "working man's" notebook chips?

    Next, if I was to treat the Transmeta part like an embedded chip. How cheap can a wireless webpad with Linux and mozilla on it be? How long do the batteries last? Can I plug my Nokia PCS phone in to it? Yeah, these are all product specific questions. The big one is "how cheap?" I'm not going to buy a $1000 web pad when I will be able to buy a $1000 K6-II notebook ($800-$1200 is what they are aiming for with the k6-II+.) The TM chips are supposed to cost in the $70 range in quantity so I'm guessing you're not going to see many $300 TM based products.

    There is a fair amount of information on the processor but I still feel like the important real world information is missing. I also feel like TM has been kind of deceptive with it, if they had a cheaper, lower power process that delivers the same performance they would be banging that gong to no end. They don't, it's either more expensive or it's slow, or both. It also kind of feels like they are moving slow. I know it's a first rev of their part but since that first press conference it has almost been long enough for rev 2 to be nearing the end of the pipeline. Something else that they should be hyping, especially if their first rev is an underachiever, that's expected but it's what you follow up with that makes or breaks you.

    It's all very cool none the less, I hope they do well. More competition is better.

  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @06:25AM (#828276)
    The big criticism seems to be performance. I see this as a complete non-issue, but then again I'm not a compulsive upgrader.

    Just two years ago, I was doing serious day-job work with a 200MHz Pentium running Windows NT. I had no speed complaints whatsoever. I'm currently doing software development for a _large_ project using a 400MHz Pentium II. It's plenty fast for my needs (which includes lots of heavy compiling). I also have a 333MHz Pentium II at home, which I use for running Lisp, doing 3D modelling, compiling, and graphic arts work. No speed complaints from me. It's a very snappy system, even running Windows 95. (I'd switch to Linux if I could find a desktop environment that didn't drag performance down to sub-Windows levels. Even so, I still have a 2M Linux partition that gets the occasional use.)

    Now, most of the Transmeta detractors are complaining because Intel and AMD are beating them in the raw speed department. But then I realize that even Transmeta's low-end chips are running at outrageous clock speeds, giving performance better than any machine I typically use. That's enough for me. More speed than I know what to do with. Very low power consumption. Please, get these into inexpensive notebooks ASAP.
  • by westfirst ( 222247 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:24AM (#828277)
    The Crusoe Processor has many things going for it, but it is far from the only machine on the market. The earliest power benchmarks they released suggested that it could do 2 to 3 times the computation with the same amount of power as a Pentium chip. Well, that's not exactly the best comparison. Intel's never really worked at saving power too much and the Pentium line is well known as a power hog.

    Apple's G3 laptops, on the other hand, have battery lives that are two to three times longer than Wintel laptops. That suggests that Crusoe and the old G3 are similar in computation per unit power. Of course, Apple/Motorola has gone the other direction with G4. It has a huge die to accommodate the SIMD instructions in the Altivec. Power consumption has skyrocketed. Still, Apple's MPEG DVD playing demonstration with the G3 is a great benchmark for a computer.

    It's clear that Transmeta began as an academic exercise in exploring a new kind of computer chip that converted the instructions on the fly. They were entranced with the possibilities of doing pre-processing of instructions at the time of execution. This gives them some neat benefits, but they're not huge ones. After a bit, the Transmeta folks gave up singing that their processor was going to go faster and started hyping the power consumption.

    It's not clear to me that Transmeta hasn't used any techniques that can't be easily ported to the latest model of the Pentium. So we'll see what happens.

    I would also take Toshiba's decision with a grain of salt. There are plenty of other big companies with good engineeer who are still behind Transmeta.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling