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IBM Cancels Crusoe Laptop 77

sheckard writes: " reports that IBM has suspended a project geared toward releasing a ThinkPad notebook with a Crusoe processor. This could be a very bad thing for Transmeta, since their IPO is rapidly approaching." The Transmeta IPO is supposed to be on the sixth of November - IBM has been doing work on examining it, but have decided to put off plans for it for the time being.
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IBM Cancels Crusoe Laptop

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  • If I recall correctly, wasn't IBM one of the large investors in Transmeta to begin with?

    I wonder why the switch, if I'm actually right about that.. Maybe they don't like (For whatever reasons) what was produced? Putting money into something, then canceling it for not being within their current plans seems kind of strange, to me at least.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hey last I checked was available.

    ...seems like IBM discovered that was all that was available to them ;)

    ha ha ha, just kidding.

  • transmeta would have a much better chance in the laptop market if they were selling low-power backlights.

    crusoe will find its niche in small devices with small screens and no hard disk. super-palm like devices and web pads, not laptops with big screens and hard disks.

  • Up to six hours if I don't use my CDrom, and even more if I dim my screen.

    Granted it does depend on what I'm doing. HD access is probably one of the biggest killers other than the screen. That's why virtual memory is *disabled* ;)

  • Yes, transistors draw current.

    Yes, processing uses transistors.

    This doesn't mean that Crusoe is a sorry product- that it sucks.

    It all depends on the design. If you've got a really efficient simple CPU that runs really fast, you in theory gain over the CISC CPUs because while you're a little slower by emulating them, you're consuming much less power than they are. If it looks like a 700MHz CPU when I'm running 900-1000MHz, consume only a watt or two while doing that (note: At full tilt, the PIII consumes something on the order of 20 or so...) then it's more efficient- no matter HOW you slice it. Will it make a dent in a laptop? Sort of. You don't eat 20 or so watts in CPU power another couple for the fan/heatsink combo. You end up being able to get away with more batteries if you choose (the heatsink's no longer weighing you down...) or smaller ones (slightly- you're able to kill roughly a fourth of the power consumption by doing things this way.). However, having said this, you've got the HD, floppy, CD, sound card amplifier, and display all eating power as well, with the HD and display being the consumers of the remainder of the lion's share of power use by a laptop. If they get OLEDs out soon, that will cut the power consumption much the same way as Transmeta's attempting to do with the Crusoe.

    As for me being scared of knocking them? I'm not. But, in the same breath, I'm also not pathalogically attacking them either. I'm adopting a wait-and-see attitude about the Crusoe line.

    Oh, and it's "electricity", not "electronicty".

  • that IBM, after having toyed with sample Crusoe chips in their laptops, saw something beyong the hype.

    There hasn't been a more hyped processors in years, so it's normal that big companies try to attract attention by saying it embraces the thing.

    However, beyong the R&D and labs, there are people wich will use the thing. And those people are mostly going to be running intel-based OSes and software. Code-morphing might not be all that important to the mass, and IBM, seeing beyong the hype, might have just realised that although technically interesting (on paper at least), that it might not actually bring much benefit to the end user.

    For those you need code morphing abilities, well, there are always emulators.

    Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.
  • by matty ( 3385 )
    ...that IBM made this decision. Their support definitely would have gone a long way toward solidifying Transmeta's name in the industry.

    I don't buy the argument that IBM is 'sticking it to them', however. They just made a business decision. If they thought they could have made decent money on laptops with a Crusoe inside, they would have built them.

    Plus I don't think TM has anything to worry about just yet. Paul Allen is one of their principals, and while his MSFT has dropped about in half, that just means he's now worth a little less than 20 billion dollars (he said with his pinky to his mouth).

    They'll have plenty of time to find their place in the market. Let's just hope they do. The more the merrier.
  • In the notebook market no consumer cares one whit whether the CPU is Intel, AMD, Crusoe or hamsters on a wheel. It's about prices features weight and to some extent, gee-whiz factor. Nobody I mean nobody gives a crap whether it uses .1 watt or 10 watts in idle. And here's a news flash for all of you - - nobody really cares that much about battery life either. For the minority of folks who can't use or carry around a powersupply, car lighter adapter or extra battery, yeah ok extended battery life is a great benefit. But look around how many people actually fall into that category? And how many people are actually going to be concerned with how much time they get on their battery when THEY'RE NOT DOING ANYTHING? That is, how much more battery do you get on a Crusoe when you're actually running some apps? Think about the components that sell notebooks: DVD, big screen, big drive and coolness factor.
    Under what scenarios do those factors lead you to use a notebook strictly on battery for extended amounts of time? So in the end Crusoe is a way cool code morphing hunka hunka burnin love but so what.

    You have to be able to make a VAIO C1XR sized machine that weighs less than 2lbs and can run 10+hrs on a charge while playing a DVD. And while your at it - since I want to feel comfortable leaving everything but the notebook itself behind you have to build the thing inside of a shell that I can carry around comfortably without a bag, in one hand without worrying about damaging it. Oh and while you're at it, put a cell phone on a PCCARD and let me leave that other device home as well.

    Hmmmm.. other than the 10+ hrs battery I think I can do that already with a VAIO or a Libretto.

    This is probably why IBM is still thinking about it.
  • space heater is an understatement; especially some of the new thinkpads... I'd kill to swap the mobile pentium III in my t20 for a crusoe if it will prevent the damn thing from burning my lap when I use it. I've lately been borrowing a small acrylic cutting board from the kitchen to put between my leg and the system. But here's the kicker kids, it's NOT the processor that's doing it. The quarter that houses the CPU isn't where it's so hot! neither is the area where the battery is. It's the pcmcia cards/socket and the hard drive! they even have a FAN and AIR DUCTING over by these!
  • I tend to agree that their laptops are not the fastest things in the world, but the agony I get from carrying around a Compaq brick makes me long for a light machine, not a fast one. SuSE doesn't seem to give much of a damn whether it can surf the net at 300MHz or 700MHz!

    Amen to that! I currently use a Sharp Actius A150 (same form factor as the litle Viao's) with 64 MB of Ram and a pentium 266. No built in CDRom or floppy.

    Size matters, at least for a laptop, and I would much rather have my existing small form factor then double the performance. Red Hat 7.0 does not care either, and running Gnome, sawfish, a couple of netscape windows, an MP3 player, and 5 or so emacs windows feels just as fast as my sun workstation.

    As for battery life, I get an hour from my old mostly fried internal NiMh... which has never been a problem for me. It's just not that hard to find a plug when I need the laptop. Places without plugs lend themselves more to the use of my palm pilot.

    This (to meander back on topic) is where the curusoe can really shine... "good enough" performance at a great price and outstanding form factor.

    Picture a Sony Viao form factor laptop with a decent 13" diagonal 800x600 LCD, a [Celeron 300 | K6-2 450] level CPU, built in 10/t ethernet, 1 PCMCIA slot, 1 USB port, 64 MB of ram, and a 10 gig hard drive.

    Heck, you could even drop the battery and charging stuff (but keep the suspend features) to make it smaller and cheaper... outlets are pretty easy to find.

    Now picture it at your local Best Buy for $650. Maybe with a $10 per month for 1 year optional payment plan.

    It would be unremarkable in every catagory, but INCREDIBLY usefull. They would fly off the shelves... kind of the VW Beetle (the old one, not the new one) of computers...

  • the micropocessor shifts electrons around so there is some work being done there, and computation involves decreasing entropy (locally of course) so you need energy to do it. There is a thermodynamic minimum amount of work needed to do computations - read feynman's lectures in computation or something.

  • The first publicly available transmeta laptop released last week got mediocre <A HREF=,1282,3 9486,00.html> benchmarks </A>. In fairness, Transmeta replies that current benchmark programs may be inadequate, because the first pass does morphing.
  • What good is the learning feature if your PC is a laptop?

    "Learning" may be great when your going for uptime, but on a laptop, your usually up and running for irratic periods of time. The "Learning" feature of code morphing will only hinder the performance that you need the FIRST TIME you run an application

    I hope Crusoe goes with the wind. Its not hardened enough for embedded, not powerfull enough for pc and i personally don't think its "saving much juice". Hell, the biggest advantage in powersaving is your using a screen half the size of a modern laptop.

  • by tippergore ( 32520 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @05:13AM (#659009) Homepage
    "I know I'll probably get moderated down for this"

    However, I think that the Transmeta stuff has just gotten out of hand. If this was any other company, they would not get such attention, but simply because it has some affiliation with Linus Torvalds means that people actually care?

    Not really. Linux is great, but transmeta... what are they doing for me right now? Not all that much. What will they do for me in the future? Maybe a little, but not all that much again. It's like doing a 30 part series on the little IBM eraser nub pointing device. WE GET IT, WE GET IT, WE GET IT. Low power consumption. We get it. It's worth an article or two, but not 20.

    Move along, nothing new to see here, thanks.

  • Umm... For manufacturing it's opportunity cost. A totally made-up example to demonstrate: You have two widgets, a low power widget that sells for $10 with a profit of $4. Your high power widget (with the Titanium gwingus) sells for $30 with a profit of $10.
    If you only have manufacturing room to make one model, and your total unit count is limited (due to those LCD displays)... which are you going to build? Let 'x' be the number of LCD displays available, and calculate x*$4 versus x*$10.
    I'm not saying this is what's going on, but its certainly plausable.
  • by rarose ( 36450 ) <rob AT robamy DOT com> on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @10:08PM (#659011)
    Thinkpads are geared towards large corporate purchasers (just try to order an A20p as an individual if you doubt that), so a Crusoe Go/No-Go decision is going to based around the saleability of that product to the suits.
    That could mean:
    1) Corporate IT wants to stick with the Intel brand name. Good tech don't mean crap if the customers won't plunk down their change.
    2) IBM has doubts about the robustness of the chip. Because Thinkpads go into their highest value enterprise accounts, they'll be more picky about compatibility/longevity issues than otherwise. The overall customer relationship here is far more valuable that the profit from a single batch of ThinkPads.
    3) Intel or AMD has incented this behaviour by cutting IBM a deal. Remember the bottom line is $$$. IBM is a huge company so the fact that one part is making the chips, or that another portion ponied up vulture capital doesn't mean a thing. Witness IBM PCCo leaving IBM PSP's OS/2 to twist in the wind when the MS OEM agreements came around.
    4) Manufacturing bandwidth. They may not have room in their factories to built yet-another ThinkPad variation. Jiminy Crickits... in early June I tried to splurge on a ThinkPad A20p (complete with video capture, 15" LCD and a titanium case) and was given a *LATE OCTOBER* delivery date. Folks, that's 5 months of backlog. I'm sure they'd be filling those orders sooner if they could. (Off-Topic: After a month of waiting I canceled my order and bought a Dell Inspiron 7500 which was on my doorstep in 2 days)
    5) Cluelessness. I consider this the least possible... IBM (recently) has been doing an outstanding job of moving technology from the research labs to the customer. The ThinkPad folks have been some of the best at product execution.

  • I tend to disagree. From the press FAQ:
    22. Who builds Transmeta's Crusoe processor solution? The hardware piece of the Crusoe Processor solution, the VLIW chip, is fabricated and packaged by IBM's Microelectronic Division. The Code Morphing software is developed and distributed along with the processor by Transmeta as a complete solution.

    So, IBM obviously holds an interest in the success of Crusoe. I cannot find proper (financial) reason for them to not support Crusoe, if not in the Thinkpad, then Thinkpad Lite (or whatever). Unless ofc. Crusoe is a piece of hyped junk?
  • CPU power consumption is probably one of the lowest consuming elements of a laptop: those screens use the most

    You're overstating your case here. Other bits of hardware use lots of power, like the hard drive and display, but the CPU is still in the top three. And CPU power usage is significant in laptops, which is why Intel keeps retooling their chips for laptop use.
  • IBM obviously holds an interest in the success of Crusoe.

    They also hold an interest with the success of OS/2.
  • I think I have to butt in:
    my history of TP's: 701c (yeah, the butterfly-keyboard...), 365X, 240. I have to say IMHO they're really beautiful laptops. Maybe you guys had bad experiences or something, but I do love them Thinkpads. When I got it 12 months ago, the TP240 was ~$1000 (new, egghead) which was almost a steal. Couldn't get that value anywhere, esp. with the crappy keyboards other notebooks exhibit.
    But OTOH, considering this iSeries stuff, I guess IBM needs to make money on the cheap end, kind of like Mercedes-Benz going from classy upscale to building every freaking model that makes money (SUV, economy, blah). A shame I think, cause it dilutes the association of high quality with the brand.
    Anyhow, just wanted to voice my (up to now) utmost pleasure with IBM-notebook computing, contrary to the prevailing mood here. :)


    (btw: this was typed on the stone-age relic of 701c, which still work perfectly...)
  • Somehow this reminds me of WinModems, such a clever idea to drive the modem with software instead of hardware... it will work just as well, right?

    Hmmm... doesn't seem to have worked out that way.

  • The advantage that the cursoe has is the battery life but unfortunately it is not a major factor to make one forget about the slow processor.
  • by jdwilso2 ( 90224 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @09:49PM (#659018)
    I don't think this will matter too too much for Transmeta right now. They've got a chance to prove themselves with Sony right now, and if kick it hardcore on the outset, they should be fine.

    IPO isn't where it all comes down to in the long run anyway. Even if the IPO price is affected by the fact that IBM isn't currently planning on releasing a Crusoe Thinkpad, they'll make there money if they make an impact in the market place. Which is, in my opinion, how it should be anyway.

    And in the end, this isn't IBM saying that they will never make a Thinkpad with a Crusoe in it, so all you fans of IBM and Transmeta might yet see all your wishes come true -- that is, if Transmeta can deliver on its promises. This next quarter will prove very pivotal for Transmeta, and I really do hope that they put up some stiff competition in the portable processing market. And Crusoe is just a first product, and is (at least in my opinion) just a taste of what Transmeta and the gang have in store. And in the worst case, at least there is more competition to bring down prices in the short run. But I've gone on long enough for one post, and that's a whole other story...

  • Transmeta's success--or lack thereof--is about anticipating when the processor model will take another about face. If you've anticipated that in years past, you're a rich man today.

    It has happened every so many years since computers left the vacuum tube. DEC did it with the PDP-series, and Intel did it when people realized that their calculator chips made a great basis for the PC.

    Most importantly, the Unix market took an about face when David Ditzel published his groundbreaking research on RISC computing--maybe you've heard of it? This is the most important part of Transmeta's marketing--Linus might inspire all the hype for the outside world, but the industry's counting on Ditzel's genius to lead Transmeta and the industry to an ideal new processor architecture.

  • I had REALLY wanted to buy a Crusoe Thinkpad, as opposed to, say, a Crusoe Vaio..... and we should all know why, Sony is one of the spawn of the devil. (RIAA, MPAA, etc.) Sure, I haven't bought yet, but I was planning to put my money where my mouth is. That'll be a little harder now....

    *sigh* Oh well, maybe no new laptop for me for a while now.

  • Who cares; it may be internal IBM politics at work rather than any technical hitch.

    The crusoe chip is important for reasons other than power consumption. It's smaller which should result in better yields and thus lower cost. Because it only implements a core instruction set in hardware it's a lot cheaper to re-engineer when Intel moves the goalposts - a s/w upgrade is a lot quicker than redesigning the chip.

    Finally, another article here is about Intel patenting some aspects of their new CPU. Their lawyers would find it difficult to argue that a software emulation of those aspects on a different architecture was infringing the patent (which won't stop them trying of course.)

  • I think your comment reads more accurately as:

    The Crusoe, I am convinced, is a great processor ... because it comes from a tiny little company that is iconified by the hero of the open source movement.

    Let's be level headed about this stuff, folks. Transmeta has no special right to anything they don't earn. I wish them the best of luck, but they've got to prove themselves in the marketplace just like everyone else.

  • Older HTML spec's required you to use quotation marks around attribute values when the value consisted of anything other than numbers & letters. The new XHTML spec (v 1.0) requires all values for attributes be quoted -- in fact, there are no more blank attributes (without a value given).

    In case you were wondering, that's why your attempt to provide us with a link didn't work. Btw, XHTML also requires that SMALL (not CAP) letters be used to specify tags and attributes; in XML,

    (for example) doesn't mean the same thing as

    (at least potentially).

  • I should have said <LI> doesn't mean the same thing as <li>!
  • No-one seems to have reported this in the discussion, so I figured I should point out that IBM quite often initiates an involvement with some hardware or software company (anyone remember "IBM partners?"), then drops the ball. Several of the partners involved suffered a great deal from this policy, having made extensive changes to suit their partner, then reaping no benefits as IBM pulled out at the last minute.

    For example, a few years ago IBM was going to offer hosting. I decided not to put any client with them, because given their track record, the hosting component of the company was likely to disappear without warning. It did.

    It's a bad idea to rely on IBM following through with anything, in my opinion. And, btw, they sometimes make really, really bad decisions -- around the early 80's, they created a new, expensive, fully automated plant to build... TYPEWRITERS! Even I knew that was pretty dumb, yet an IBMer friend of mine felt typewriters were still going to be in demand sufficiently to justify the huge cost of the project. Like all large companies, they typically underestimate the amount of time it will take for the market to adapt to new (IT) technology.

  • maybe they know how good it will be
    kill the IPO buy loads of stock
    release killer laptop next year
    or maybe it's like an oil company and a water powered car
    or maybe any other thing but I'd wager that the one thing it has nothing to do with is the technology being poor
  • IBM could care less about their "relationship" with Intel. In fact for all they care Intel can go to hell. IBM makes their real money from servers. Real servers not silly-winmpy x86 servers. In fact IBM's personal computer bussiness has been losing money for many quarters. Power4 v.s. Sparq v.s. Alpha v.s. Crapytanium is what is it all about. So IBM honestly could care less about Intel and their relationship with them.
  • You're believing a vendor's claim on battery life?
  • ibm lets it fly that they don't think the crusoe is worthy

    transmeta ipos

    stock tanks

    lots of cheap transmeta stock available, ibm buys alot

    ibm releases a brand new thinkpad that's cheap, runs linux, win2k, beos, & qnx.

    ibm 0wnz j00

    it could happen, right? ^^;;
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • How can you tell the sexual orientation of a computer? Have you tried inserting one in your anus []?
  • The Register also carried the story []. They had an interesting point about the benchmarking business. How do you benchmark a piece of hardware that "learns" about its applications and improves performance over time? The initial benchmark will be poor, but as you run the app again and again (as you will with most apps), the performance will improve. Not what your typical benchmark measures. Do we now have to "brun in" a benchmark?
  • IBM does not work like that. The Thinkpad division has to make its profit, and the microelectronic division has to make its profit, there is not real link between the two (except the name an a crap internal Email system).
  • According to this [] article from the register, Intel persuaded IBM to
    drop the Transmeta laptops using its usual schoolyard bully tactics.

    Alex [mailto]

  • Too bad for both IBM and Intel... they're both being overtaken by companies which seem to care about technology a little more than they do. Probably still care about money more though.

    Who exactly are these companies who are "overtaking" IBM and Intel and care about technology?

    1) Sun fights IBM at the middle/top end of the market. While I think Sun rocks, I don't think they are any better technology-wise
    2) Most people suppose Intel sold their engineering soul to the devil when they went with Rambus. I genuinely think they saw technological merit with Rambus initially, but got caught out when Rambus seemingly became difficult to integrate.

    I don't actually have (that) much respect for either IBM or Intel, but I'm not sure any other corporate in this dear green world gives a stuff about technology any more, except when they can make a fast buck from it

  • by doctor_oktagon ( 157579 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @10:03PM (#659036)
    I guess they don't care about new technology, but care about the almighty buck and their relationship with Intel.

    You can hardly accuse a company that has spend billions developing the PowerPC with Motorola, and spent years manufacturing customer processors for use in RS6000 machines to be scared of Intel.

    Much more likely they cannot find any benefits in using Transmeta processors at this point in time, bearing in mind the extremely low margins in low-end kit (i.e. anything under workstation class machines).

    I tend to agree that their laptops are not the fastest things in the world, but the agony I get from carrying around a Compaq brick makes me long for a light machine, not a fast one. SuSE doesn't seem to give much of a damn whether it can surf the net at 300MHz or 700MHz!

  • by doctor_oktagon ( 157579 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @10:53PM (#659037)
    The Crusoe, I am convinced, is a great processor. Big companies are just incredibly wary of it because it comes from a tiny little company that is iconified by the hero of the open source movement. Given that the higher-ups are less than optomistic about the little guys, regardless how good their products are, this really shouldn't come as much as a surprise.

    Explain: you are convinced it is great why?
    1) It relied on vapourware and almost Blair-Witch-esque hype before it was released (remember those "uses Alien Technology" stories kids?!)

    2) CPU power consumption is probably one of the lowest consuming elements of a laptop: those screens use the most

    3) It has Linus on the payroll! Fantastic: it was already signed off for production when he joined.

    Get over it people: it's just another processor. I agree whole-heartedly with it's aims of both code morphing and power saving, but it's nowhere near the revolution we were all promised. And it *was* televised :-)

  • Maybe they decided they were powerful enough to warrent the switch. You save some power with the switch but they aren't even as fast as Celerons and most laptops are needing to be faster and faster these days. They really are desktop replacements nowadays and not travelling toys and as such need more MHz and speed.
  • The future is lighter/faster machines. You don't neccessarily want them smaller because we want the big screens. I have to have at lease a 14" screen on a laptop before i can really use the thing. A screen that size will dwarf the power consumption of the cpu and therefore the transmetta thing is a moot point. They might be nice for small hand held devices, but for computers they are essentially useless. Its a nice science project but can we please move on already? This this is going to be slower than anything Intel or AMD has out on the market or even Cyrix for that matter and Intel and AMD are already gearing for much faster CPU's as we speak. If we want a cool running/ fast cpu get a G4. Those things are pretty sweet and a hell of alot faster than any processor Crusoe is gonna make. I think I'm officially sick of /. I've liked this place for a long time, but I haven't really enjoyed many topics in quite some time. Has all the good news just dissapeared and been replaced with this sheet or is it /.'s fault ? I dunno ...
  • Well, in the olden days Thinkpad meant the gold standard. Then IBM started outsourcing their manufacturing to ACER, and the quality dropped precipitously. I still love my 365X...I am going to partially de-assimilate it from the Redmond Collective and throw on a highly customized install of Mandrake's going to rock after that. The iSeries of Thinkpads bit the bag, and now they are having rough times with the new series of Thinkpads.

    Right now Apple is making the best laptops...the iBook kicks ass. I hate to say it, but Dell's Latitude series is hot too. But oh for the days when IBM made expensive fsckn laptops which were worth every penny.

    ---- Hey Grrl Geeks! Your very own geek news site has arrived!

  • Don't know about the rest of you, but my experiance with the IBM notebooks has been less than sterling. Prehaps they are taking the much needed time to put out a decent product, instead of rushing something to market, as has been the norm.

  • Have you ever tried to REBUILD a thinkpad? snap the keyboard cable while you are changing out the CDRom? Download six difrent drivers for the integrated modem before finding the right one? Ya, there are worse, but none of them kept me up nights.

  • Some modles of thinkpad, you had to remove the keyboard to swap out the CDROM/Floppy

  • Agreed on the CDROM, but on some modles, you have to remove the keyboard to do so. Rebuilding refers to reloading the software. get a clue.

  • I am still hoping to see Transmeta laptops become mainstream, but with this latest move by IBM it makes me wonder if something is wrong with the way that the chips perform. This is not ment to bash Transmeta, but it may very well be that they did not work out very good in the price/preformance catagory for IBM to implement right now.

    We all know the what Transmeta "promises" to deliever, but who said it has to come in the first generation of their chips?


  • yeah, yeah, yeah, all reasonable reasons, but if IBM thought it performed OK and it gets the promised ~4X battery life, there'd be a market it for it at prices that would more than pay for what the chip costs. There's got to be more to this story.
  • opportunity cost

    Ummm... I have an MBA. You rigged the numbers to explain opportunity cost which I already understand.

    I'm not saying this is what's going on, but its certainly plausable

    you were not saying what was going on, but I was. the problem with your opportunity cost example is that in hi tech markets, the latest and greatest carries a price premium, and older technologies often go unsold. What I was saying was that IBM would not be distracted by old ideas about what a good notebook has if there were a new technology that was compatible and dramatically extended battery life. I was implying that this must indicate that Transmeta does not deliver on its promise.

  • in this story on zdnet,4586,2648 883,00.html
    they say the units IBM was testing were not delivering on the battery life promises.
  • I think that the Transmeta stuff has just gotten out of hand.

    While I agree with you that Transmeta is probably getting too much attention, I think there is something to see here. It is a fairly unique experiment to build relatively high-level translation at the silicon level. I'm dubious whether they can pull it off with reasonable performance, but it's still interesting.

    Torvalds is not a reason they should get extra attention, but it's not a reason they should be ignored either (i.e., in the name of "objectivity").


  • I was awaiting the crusoe thinkpad eagerly, I checked out the old celeron 240's and they were great, really well put together, like the 600's, however the i series thinkpads were really about the same quality as everyone else's laptop, so the IBM advantage sank to simply being black (sorry stealth grey) and badged
    for me important laptop features are weight, battery life, ports and size. The 240 meets all these requirements, it's NOT a desktop replacement so CPU speed is not a big requirement and a crusoe 240 should be lighter with longer battery life etc.
    Unfortunately the crusoe 240 was to be built by quanta so there might be quality issues there.
    I for one aren't particularly sad to see the project "on hold" and Linus being on board didn't really influence me, although at the back of my mind was the knowledge that a crusoe box would support Linux really well!
  • IBM might have put the crusoe Tpad on hold due to pressure from intel, like everyone else they have had problems with Intel chip supply, and I don't mean for their desktop stuff but for their multiprocessor NT boxes which I'm guessing they shift a suitably large number of and which are specced with the best CPUs.
    Or it could be that either the Tpad wasn't going to make it out of the factories in time or even that all the other Crusoe based laptops are mainly aimed at non-corporate consumers who wanna watch DVDs, most of the reviews of the crusoe gear I've seen so far reckon it's bad at business apps and great at DvD playback, this would fit with the marketing issue IBM have ... just some thoughts
  • If this was any other company, they would not get such attention, but simply because it has some affiliation with Linus Torvalds means that people actually care?

    Well, I could care less if Linus worked for 'em (glad he has a day job). The power consumption is exciting, but no big deal in my book. The exciting thing for me is the code morphing, and the idea that this chip could be made to emulate other chips, and that chip-level emulation could be developed.

    I work in aircraft simulation. You get to see some of the state-of-the-art stuff, but you also spend a LOT of time making today's technology fit in yesterday's equipment. I'm currently working on a computer system that can provide hard real-time, fast data transfers, yada yada, but it is as old as me. Consider Moore's Law, and project back 25 years.

    The parts are so expensive, you would think they are antiques (in more ways then one). Ethernet cards are 16x24 inches, and around $1000 each. Forget about replacement processors boards (early, early Motorola). It's ridiculous - but there aren't many options. Real time is still real time, and, apparently, PC platforms aren't proven yet. Who would want to convert 10 million lines of Fortran 77, anyway?

    So, my hope is that the processor, and indeed the whole system, may be emulated on a Crusoe-based processor someday, and my line of business can be dragged, kicking and screaming, back onto the Moore's Law curve. Bonus if the system runs Linux.

    So, yes, I'm fairly concerned that Transmeta succeeds financially, in the hope that the idea survives until other engineers can start getting their hands on Code Morphing.
  • Maybe the ThinkPads on your planet are different. Over at work we've bought ThinkPads almost exclusively for years, even after switching to Dell desktop machines. The newer slimline units, in particular, are wonderful laptops.

    Yes, some of the old MWave DSP hardware (no longer used) was a pain to configure, and the driver section of their web site was a godawful mess before they redesigned it. But the hardware has always been exceptionally durable and reliable compared to the other brands I've worked with. We still have a ThinkPad 365 that was run over by a car; the LCD was shattered and the CD drive crushed, but the unit still works fine.

  • by wmoyes ( 215662 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @10:47PM (#659054)
    I don't think it's a matter of heat production, but more an issue of power consumption.

    Actually, no. Heat and power consumption are directly related, lower one and the other is lowered. Think about it: what 'work' is done by the electricity in a microprocessor? From the physics standpoint nothing. It is not converted to light, sound, motion, and the RF is negligible. All of the energy is converted to heat. If you think about it a computer is nothing more than a space heater.

    A associate once mentioned the key to miniaturization of consumer devices is heat. The more heat, the larger the chip itself (to transfer heat), the larger the heat sink (to dissipate heat), and the larger the battery (to store the energy to generate the heat). As heat goes down size goes down.

  • And if they exposed any of the interesting parts, there'd be a reason for all this discussion. Since they don't, the Crusoe is just another x86 clone. I fail to see why that's worth discussion. Now, flaming them for keeping the microcode API proprietary and secret would be worth discussion but we won't see that since Linus works there.
  • You test with typical apps and typical data. Whether that helps or hurts any specific design isn't really important since it is testing a reasonable usage scenario rather than a specific processor feature.

    This would actually hurt the Crusoe, though, since most standard benchmarks do LOTS of looping which should play to the Crusoe's strengths. After all, most benchmarks seem to have a "do the next test 1000 times" part so that load time isn't as much of a factor. That Crusoe's "learning" should help it a lot in this kind of artificial looping test.

  • In fairness, most benchmarks do multiple passes of the test to correct for code load times and to get long enought times so that the differences don't get lost in the timer precision. If anything, conventional benchmarks should help the Crusoe since loops of test are just about ideal for their "morphing".
  • When you have as much free cash as IBM does the best strategy is to do a little seeding with it. If one out of twenty pays off you still win more than enought to cover the 19 losses.
  • just fyi... ACtually, IBM's PC division made money for the first time this past quarter.
  • The story is at
  • Too bad for both IBM and Intel... they're both being overtaken by companies which seem to care about technology a little more than they do. Probably still care about money more though.
  • Thats not exactly the end of the world....Although it is certainly a dent. A bigger problem would have been along the lines of a big recall due to some annoying bugs that are critical. Transmeta is still very new so give it time to mature. StarTux
  • What are you smoking? Or drinking, must have been a good Halloween Party. StarTux :-)
  • The Crusoe, I am convinced, is a great processor. Big companies are just incredibly wary of it because it comes from a tiny little company that is iconified by the hero of the open source movement. Given that the higher-ups are less than optomistic about the little guys, regardless how good their products are, this really shouldn't come as much as a surprise.

    Also, considering the current quality of IBM ThinkPads, a part of me is happy to hear this news. IBM turning out sub quality laptops will cause a negative impact on the general acceptance of the Crusoe.

    This is a minor loss after a huge win. After all, Sony seems to like the Crusoe, and I think that among those buying laptops, the sleek, clean, very well engineered Vaio is better than the big, bulky, slapped-together ThinkPad. Sony is a better name to associate with Transmeta's kick-ass processor. As for IBM, well, no matter how much cool stuff they're involved with, doesn't make good laptops (anymore), so good riddence (unless they improve). :-)

  • I don't think it's a matter of heat production, but more an issue of power consumption. You can effectively dissipate a fair amount of heat with an efficient heat sink that has a large surface area in a small footprint. What mobile users need is battery life. Your iBook may run cool, but how often do you have to plug it in? Can you really stay off the grid for a long period of time?
  • Six hours is OK, but in cases when I've been six hours from an outlet, I've not been able to use a notebook at all, and resorted to handwriting notes. However, the Crusoe will enable people like me to get out into the sticks and work: []

    Using the same battery-saving measures, I'd get another two hours over your iBook, enabling me to work in very remote locations.

  • Another competitor in the chip market is a very good thing! Look at the price decreases in the higher end proccessors since AMD started putting pressure on Intel with the Athlon.
  • Transmeta is a technically exciting company, but I can't say that I think much of their business plan. Essentially, they've got a very complex solution to a single part of the power-consumption problem. The problem is, that CPU power consumption is their _only_ edge (oh, that and Linus). So even if your CPU is burning 50% of the power, their best case is going to be doubling battery life. That's good, but is it good enough? Against Intel, who can take an existing design and throw a bunch of process shrinks and clever EE tricks at it? I, for one, don't think that Transmeta has a chance of keeping up against Intel. I give them a year.
  • unless of course the IBM geeks were subject to vaporware hype when Linus joined Transmeta. Let's face it, a company like IBM can't afford to go with upstarts in established markets [this is not the time when they ae fishing for an O/S anymore] Imagine they came out with new notebooks and the processor wasn't up to scraps. It's not as if IBM had a majority stake in the laptop market - and to my knowledge they don't have too many 'nerd' clients either. It seems to me that IBM was trying to get some geek customers by announcing that they'd use Transmeta - and that strategy is likely to have worked, considering the Linus-for-god cults among script kiddies. Then they did a few benchmark tests and started to doubt their own idea. Next they realized that Transmeta is unlikely to be a reliable suppier, because of component shortages [after all IBM was contracted to produce the baby, wasn't it?]. And in a tightening market it's always safer to listen to the PR and Marketing departments and drop a questionable project rather than stick with it for geek's sake and risk having production bottlenecks or worse recalls of malfunctioning units... just my 0.02 Euros...
  • Isn't that illegal?
    Well of course big companies know the way to get around the law.
  • Transmeta refused to release some of its proprietary secret like Code morphing instructions code(last time I checked it's proprietary information)may be the reason.

    Last year IBM threaten to cease support to java if SUN refused to lift its control at Java specification. Much has been done this year from Sun on Java on open source movement. Sun yield to the fact that IBM is the biggest employer of Java.

    IBM is good at bargaining, I know, I were its employee.

    Good time to get more bargaining power before transmeta's IPO. Smart.

  • There decision to not produce any Crusoe notebooks at this time is probably their market strategy more than anything.

    In the retail world IBM notebooks are generally bulkier with the same amount of features of a comparable vendors model and costs significantly more. They mighy be worried about the hit to their other products if a comparable item could be offered for less than another of its models.

    I wouldn't put it past them as holding of to see how popular they are either, before tryin to see how much they can market a product with the processors in them.

    After it all it is a new processor generally the public is weary of anything that doesn't say 'Intel inside'. It's mostly geeks that would jump right on these and IBM has mostly leaned towards the corporate pencil pushers and their desires.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court