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Transmeta

Compaq Holds Off On Crusoe 120

scott1853 writes "Accroding to this article on ZDNet, based on this article at G2News, Compaq has decided to put off use of Crusoe in favor of Intel's P3. Unlike IBM, Compaq isn't claiming to put the processor on hold, they appear to have made their final decision not to use it. Could this be Intel flexing it's influential muscles, or is Transmeta not being competitive enough price-wise?"
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Compaq Holds Off On Crusoe

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  • by Anne Marie ( 239347 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @07:02AM (#642190)
    This decision only confirms the wavering they've been having since at least June [zdnet.co.uk]. They always wanted to see the goods before they committed themselves to shipping a product, and I guessed they aren't impressed. And unlike IBM, Compaq has never even demoed a transmeta prototype, so the decision is even easier for them to make without losing complete face.
  • by Anne Marie ( 239347 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @07:27AM (#642191)
    The DOJ and FTC have been breathing down [techlawjournal.com] Intel's neck for more than a decade now, but unlike Microsoft, Intel is bright enough not to stick its neck out far enough to get it chopped off. (Here's a hint to all you aspiring Bill Gateses at home: burn all your emails before the feds bang on your door.)
  • I'm sure that's partially to blame. What non-tech-savvy person is going to buy a laptop "with similar performance to a Pentium III 500 mhz!!" when they can buy a "laptop with a Pentium III 500 mhz".

    Even worse is to hear "speeds up to 700 mHz". The 700 mhz Pentium chip, or AMD's chips don't have the "up to" tag that consumers, over the years, have equated to 'pie in the sky bullshit' speak. They are 700 mhz, period. Does this matter in real world applications? Maybe not, but it sure won't help it get sold.

    There's already a big enough problem whereby Intel has, despite how evil you (or I) might think they are, built a really solid brand that consumers seem to trust (rightfully or not). But when you have to start telling them how the code morphing gizmos work it gets really confusing really fast, and the vast majority of people are going to stick with Intel..or at least get AMD processors where the mapping of performance is relatively straightforward (yes, I realize there are cache differences, differences in FPU performance, etc, but compared to the differences in Transmeta's chips vs Intel they are insignificant at this time).

    The only way to get people over this confusion hump would be if the performance were FAR AND AWAY better or the power savings really made any kind of notable difference in the real world vs Intel's solutions (the certainly less geektastic power-stepping stuff they have in their new chips). I haven't seen a Transmeta powered system in real life that I could mess with, but from all reports of those who have, the chips offer neither of these benefits to any noticable degree. And they don't have the enormous price/power advantage that AMD started out with when they first started producing the Athlon.

  • Remember, they've got their $273 million -- it's not going anywhere. The question now is how the IPO investors are going to make out.
  • [OFFTOPIC] Someone needs to code in a way of preventing the same article submission from being posted to production more than once. I am referring to the Slash. which has nothing to do with this topic.
  • Much of the energy consumptions of laptops is the screen and the disk, so it isn't clear that even doing something significant with power usage in the processor is going to help battery life that much. And Crusoe seems like its software component might be prone to compatibility and installation problems.

    Much of the power that Pentium requires is probably due to the complexity of the instruction set and the need for backwards compatibility. Particularly for non-Windows operating systems, just going with a simple, well-designed chip other than Pentium (ARM?) may give you the benefits of Crusoe without the potential complications. You can still emulate the x86 for compatibility.

    In short, unless IBM demonstrates really very significant improvements in performance and battery life in actual laptops, I wouldn't rush out to buy one: either, I'd get a non-Pentium machine (WindowsCE, converted to Linux), or I'd just stick with Pentium or a direct clone. Compaq and IBM probably came to the conclusion that many potential customers think that way.

  • We need to get these crusoe chips into some hardcore techies who know what they're doing. I don't think any of the synthetic benchmarks are going to help any because the more tiems you run them, the better it'll perform. Instead, maybe they should try real world benchs and watch as it suposedly gets faster (at least isn't that what the code morphing does?).

    I've also seen some tests done by (i think it was HP) a few months ago with something called "Dynamo" and they showed that after the 3rd or 4th time through, the code was arithmetically faster.

    Just a thought.
  • Excellent comment. Would anyone on this board care at all if Linus wasn't involved? Absolutely not.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Another guy can't spell "its".
  • Where does the DOJ and intel have to do with transmeta?
  • No, the IPO was yesterday wasn't it? Today, the stock is open for regular trading.
  • I was in Tokyo yesterday and saw a Fujitsu Crusoe machine for sale. It was a FMV-Biblo LOOX T5-53, 128MB/10GB, DVD etc etc. for \209,800 or about US$2040 including the sales tax. Looks like a cool machine (obviously) but (yucky-poo-poo) it comes with VindersME (Kanji) and orfice. I did a web search to see if the price was good, but came up with NADA, so I guess it is... tempting!

    OFF-TOPIC* Also saw the IBM version of the Palm V - Kanji flavor, for about US$450 but they were out of stock.
  • i don't think we need benchmarks that make transmeta look better. we need benchmarks that simulate actual use.
  • Victowee! haha!

    enough people complained and timothy removed his double post. all hail lord hemos!
    --
    Peace,
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @08:59AM (#642204)
    Why doesn't someone just loop the frickin' benchmarks and draw the graph? It should be flat on AMD/Intel and show an increase for the Crusoe.

    This seems awfully unfair to transmeta...to test their cpu against the same standard as the big guns, when their main feature in dynamicism.

    Anyone who thinks dynamic code/data analysis is BS...read up on SGI/Nvidias video driver strategies.

    It seems painfully obvious that a computing system should optimize itself to the task at hand.


  • Intel is about to release new low power chips. If these things are anywhere in the same ballpark as the Crusoe in power use, it isn't worth the change.

    With the new Intel chips Compaq doesn't have to reengineer much. Customers already know what a Pentium is. How many know what a Crusoe is? And, there are no chances of an odd incompatibility with the Pentium like there may be for th Crusoe. Just seems to make sense to me.
  • There's a story on Yahoo [yahoo.com] about the IPO, which is now at $48 and climbing, less than one hour from the IPO.

    I picked up 75 shares at IPO price myself.

    Amusingly, /. has rejected three stories submitted by me over the past week about the IPO, with probably about four story links per submission.

    Conflict of interest? Inquiring minds want to know ...

    Anyone catch the little stab in the back by Compaq today? Et tu, Brute? Mr. Grove should be ashamed of twisting their arms over such a silly thing as a little bit of competition.

  • Are there any other alternative x86 compatibles that don't cook your legs while you are working on a notebook?

    I'm interested in the Transmeta just because I'm looking for a subnotebook that has better than average battery life and runs cool. I'm waiting for some real products to debut in the US. (I don't like the Sony Picturebook's screen size.)

    I may end up with an iBook, but I really want x86 compatibility.

    Anybody have a suggestion?
  • Transmeta will live or die by dockable WebPads. Low power consumption chips are most useful on devices with non-heavy graphics screens - this form allows one to use an HDTV screen for web browsing, but browse news articles while sitting at the couch or working in the kitchen. Here the difference between a 2-3 hour battery life (Intel/AMD products) and a 4-6 hour battery life (Tranmeta) will become critical.

    This may also prove useful in PDAs, where battery life with reasonable non-hard-disk usage can have a major impact. I would love to have a PDA that plugs into my fridge webpad and synchs, plugs into my car display and activates voice tech modules, and can be stuck in a slim pack or a purse.

    The rest is GIGO.

    [note - I'm biased, since I have IPO shares in TMTA]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    DEC West was formally the place where the NT port on Alpha was 'cleaned' it was also the place where they developed the FX!32 binary emulation and optimizing translator. When Compaq bought DEC and later shutdown DECWest those engineers who lost their jobs went and found other work. Some of them found their way to Transmeta and along with it some of the IP of FX!32 (which has like a dozen patents pending). Surprise shortly there after TM has a chip that can do "Code Morphing" literally FX!32 on a chip. Now if Compaq 'chose' to they could sue they living shit out of TM and be justified in doing so. Though so far Q has said nothing about the matter, until now.

    It's not that Q said to TM "Sure we'll put your chips in our products yadadada". What they did say is "We know that you know that you've stolen our IP and created a product out of it." Though instead of suing the snot out of them and grinding them into the dust instead they said "We'll ya know if you sell us your chips at say 30% than you sell them to everyone else we'll consider not suing you into oblivian."

    I'm anonynous for good damn reason.
  • Imagine a Windows CE or Palm device with as much processing power as an Intel PII-300.

    Imagine changing the AAA batteries in my Pilot every 20 minutes. Look up the power consumption of a Dragonball sometime: Crusoe is a power-sucking hog in comparision

    Transmeta's between a rock and a hard place. They're trying to say "Look at the low, low 1 watt power consumption". But that doesn't help much in laptops, since the LCD and disk take a lot of the power, more than the CPU. At the same time, that 1 watt is something like an order of magnitude higher than a Dragonball[1]: installing a Crusoe in a Pilot just isn't going to work

    Eric [1] A Dragonball uses 20 mA at 3.3V running flat out, most of the time much less than that.

  • by David Gould ( 4938 ) <david@dgould.org> on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @09:16AM (#642211) Homepage

    It does sound kind of similar. In fact, here's what seems to be a common theme:
    Nobody wants to be first, but everybody wants to be second.

    I haven't been watching this as closely (I'm happy with my PowerBook G3), but it did seem to go a bit like this: for a long time everybody was interested but nobody was actually announcing anything; then somebody announced a product, and everybody else rushed to follow suit; now everybody is backing off. I guess the optimistic view would be to suppose that everybody wants to do it but they are nervous about the risk of being the first to test the waters, and that once somebody finally does it, the rest will again follow.

    David Gould
  • Even worse is to hear "speeds up to 700 mHz". The 700 mhz Pentium chip, or AMD's chips don't have the "up to" tag that consumers, over the years, have equated to 'pie in the sky bullshit' speak. They are 700 mhz, period.

    Uh, no. The "SpeedStep technology" (spit) is all about under-clocking the processor whenever the computer is not docked.

  • nothing but bad news for Transmeta lately
    only if you get your news from slashdot, an organzation that generated the upside hype, then blamed transmeta for not delivering on it, and has now led the backlash.

    where was slashdot when the NEC machine was released (3lbs 11 hours 10.4" screen 600mhz crusoe)? how bout when hitachi, fujitsu, and merilus announced they would come out with machines? when microsoft and aol showed machines at comdex?

    slashdot, epitomized by losers such as yourself, delivers hot air only. people willing to make a commitment with real money showed how they think on the street today. short the stock or shut up.

  • by haystor ( 102186 )
    Its funny how the same people saying that the DOJ should be investigating the gouging prices of Intel are now saying the DOJ should be investigating Intel making deals with companies.

    The case is simple here. For the first time, companies like Compaq, and IBM have been able to dictate terms to Intel because of COMPETITION. This is what everyone has been screaming for, now its here, and now the prices have been forced lower by the consumers (Compaq and IBM).

    It is small surprise that a new company is not able to match on price given the unknown risks they also present. These companies have dealt with Intel for quite some time, so Intel probably doesn't have to match on price exactly as I'm sure there is some goodwill that they are trading on.

    Its not all a conspiracy.

  • "Accroding to this article on ZDNet,

    Typos, the greek god of slippery fingers strikes again!
  • If you're really interested, I've read the size of the "translation cache" somewhere, probably on Transmeta's site. I can't think of it off the top of my head, though :(

    I don't know a lot about the Crusoe, but I do know enough to say that it wouldn't take a whole heckuva lot of cache to make it worthwhile - "trouble spots" in code are what slows the computer down - just speeding those up will make a significant impact on performance. In a good way.

    Dave
    'Round the firewall,
    Out the modem,
    Through the router,
    Down the wire,
  • Intel just finished (within 2 months) a 3 year investigation and came out clean as a whistle, its not Intel's fault that the instruction emulation is slower and that intel can create a lower power chip. Transmeta has nothing to offer
  • If it's so easy to match the power/performance of the TM chip, why is it only now (w/ TM chips) we are seeing laptops from NEC, Fujistu, etc. with 8+ hour battery life claims?
    NEC [transmeta.com] fujitsu [transmeta.com]
  • From recent reports on slashdot and other sites that occasionally cover chip news, Transmeta has been lacking from the beginning in many things. Primarily the chips speed. These "reports" haven't been indepth and haven't really showed the public in general what Transmeta is about as of yet. We can only speculate as of now. So far we know that the chips perform slower than its competitors (I don't understand why its such a big issue as from the tech specs and the way the chip was designed you HAVE to expect it to perform slower), they cost more money, YET they use less power and will make things like laptops and pda's battery lifetime increase.

    Its a brand new company, brand new chip, alot of publicity yet they seem to peek from behind a curtain. Any major corporation is going to DELAY or NOT use a product until its generally proven. Transmeta hasn't been in the game that long at all; Hell! they are brand new, but as PDA's become more and more an everyday part of peoples lives I expect to see Transmeta take off (imho).

    However I think that the best thing to do instead of speculating against major corporations which we don't have any major foundation or proven claims of which to base our speculation on. Is to wait, let the chips fall where they may (no pun intended) and let the cream rise to the top. Eventually if Transmeta has a good product which has been proven to work well and a major "put-in-a-box" computer corp backs them; then they'll be the first to reap the rewards. Everyone else will fall into place.
  • Did anyone else happen to notice that the title of the article on slashdot is: "Compaq Holds Off on Crusoe" but then scott1853 goes on to say "Compaq isn't claiming to put the processor on hold, they appear to have made their final decision not to use it" and the title of the article on ZDNet is "
    Compaq cancels Transmeta plans" and on G2 is Compaq Cans Transmeta Box".

  • Lots of hype, promises of changing the market with a wonder product that isn't quite there yet. Unlike MS however they haven't got the muscle to enforce inferiour products on the rest of us.

    I'm sure some people will state this is Intel pressure, but just possibly Compaq (who ship AMD chips) didn't see the cost/performance/power benifits that many on Slashdot have hyped up like a conference of MCSEs.
  • This is extremely peculiar. I just refreshed my IE, and there were two articles about Compaq and Transmeta. I commented on the second, and then refreshed again, and it was gone (*poof*). Am I caught in some sort of bizarre temporal anomaly? Is it some vile trick on the part of Mr. Katz? Will I spend the rest of the day watching the same two articles blink in and out of existance?

  • <I>However, AOL is reportedly uncertain how to sell it and concerned that it will be hacked into a conventional, general-purpose PC, bypassing its single application, a captive AOL client.</I>

    I don't know but for me the only way I would buy such a device (and it does sound cool to have a touch screen in say my kitchen) Would be if I could hack it into a Non-AOL computer.

    ok I'm an idiot. I haven't coded HTML in years.. bite me

  • Just a few more, and this story will contain more posts than the original. Who said duplicating stuff didn't work? After all, that is how M$ did it...
  • The job of the Federal Government is to make sure that companies play by the rules. When companies play by the rules, we have a fair marketplace. If the federal government does not enforce the rules, they are worthless, and we have the *possibility* of an unfair marketplace, and companies' innovations do not have a chance.

    If a thug came up to you and started beating on you (breaking the rules), would you object to the police coming up and stopping them?
  • Companies I worked for generally require to jump to a radically new product from a new company a price/performance increase of five times,
    sometimes ten. 2-3X for an established vendor. Because in this business if you just WAIT 6-12 months without chnaging vendors, you are going to see that kind of increase.
  • by wmoyes ( 215662 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @08:12AM (#642227)
    A professor of mine once examined the power use of a laptop but disassembling it, and reassembling it on sheet of plywood. He added ammeters between the major components and discovered that 1/3 of the power is used by the hard drive, 1/3 by the LCD, and 1/3 by the processor. Even if the processor's power were reduced to nothing, there would only be a 30% savings in consumed power.

    The Transmeta chip should not be targeted towards conventional laptops, but instead should be used to improve the performance of PDA's. Imagine a Windows CE or Palm device with as much processing power as an Intel PII-300.

    I really don't want to see Transmeta die, it has a novel concept. It would really shine if they developed a native Java-VM for it that would translate the byte code just as it does 80x86 instructions.

    BTW for all the anti-Intel people out there, don't forget unlike M$ they do a real competitor or two (AMD, for a while Cyrix, for a while IBM, TI on occasion, and now possibly Transmeta). Also don't forget when a problem is discovered in their product they have to fix it (unlike the 65,000 problems another company hasn't fixed). The actual product that reaches 99% of the public is a good and reliable. Yes its sad that now their marketing department runs the company, and that they haven't modified the core integer pipeline in 5 years, but the engineers working for them are good.


  • Slashdot needs a good groupware package to facilitate interdepartment communications.

    This wasteful duplication of effort could have all been prevented if Hemos in the Bad-Timing-For-Transmeta Dept. had "touched base" with Timothy in the Oy-Vey-Ist-Mir! Dept.

    I recommend Lotus Notes R5, which unlike M$ Exchange is available for Linux.

    -the wunderhorn
    Or prehaps we need to get on Compaq to add Yiddish capabilities to Babelfish [altavista.com]...

    -the wunderhorn
    #define OH_YES_INDEED 1
  • Its at $40, 13:30 EST. It was planned at $14,
    and opened at $21. Fly high, penguins, fly.

  • Don't you think involving the government in market concerns sets a rather bad precedent?

    No. It would be a "precedent" if (a) it were the first time and (b) it serves as an example or rule for subsequent. The Microsoft case is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the first example of "involving the government in market concerns", and plenty of examples already exist. The government in the US, as in most places, is involved in market concerns in all kinds of ways, often to the benefit of businesses (especially large corporations).

    (When a corporate spokesdroid whines about "government interference" and speaks glowingly of the "free market", what they mean is "we only want the government to interfere when it benefits us". Heck, the very act of creating a corporation involves the government in market concerns. I suspect that in an real free market, corporations would be just so much tissue paper in hell.)

  • The key point in the Benchmarking wars here is that current benchmarks don't reflect the core feature of the Crusoe technology.

    For years and years and years (back thru i386 / 486 times), all that's happened is that the x86 instruction set has been executed quicker by successive processors. Modulo some trickiness with pentium instruction pipelining, benchmarks executed on a i386 16MHz (in Protected mode) are directly comparable to the same benchmark executed on a P4 1.5Ghz. The code goes in, the processor munches it, the results come out.

    Wheras the Crusoe has this clever new feature where the code is analysed in realtime and optimisations made to popular code. This implies a benchmark will execute quicker second time round.

    Now add in all the power saving optimisation and you can see that the current benchmarks - winBench et al - which are designed on a fairly simplistic basis, do not effectively translate to the usage model Crusoe-based systems are designed around.

    So, by all means read them benchmarks, but the basic point applies: the only meaningfull benchmark is the one that executed *your* desired workload on the *exact* proposed hardware.

    That's generally why Big Iron manufacturers are prepared to spend months of time, and throw many many people at providing demo services to potential customers. I know of one big BIG bid situation where a team of 50 was provided an *entire* cutting-edge mainframe, together with middleware developers and given 3 months to work with the customer to implement their exact application (minus some error handling and fluff, natch) specifically for the purposes of a benchmark. The potential benefits of the bid far, far outweighed this not-inconsiderable cost, obviously.

    Where was I? Oh yes: Benchmarks are useless. go out and get 1 of each candidate system, and put it through your proposed usage profile. Then decide which is better. Most corporations do this as a matter of course - and you Joe Schmoe individual consumer aren't important enough to worry about so you'll get what Big Q says you can have (and you'd better be grateful).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You again? Who let you out of your bedroom? The only thing j03 gives back is the occasional blowjob, a good ass-reaming for fags like you, and a massive dose of the clap. Make sure you suck HIM off next time; that way your mouth will fester-up and at least the pustules will keep you quiet.
  • Performance isn't the only issue with Apple..Application compatibility plays a big role there, as well. (For Transmeta's sake, hopefully that's not true in their case).
  • it's funny after all this hype about Crusoe and the magical software-driven microprocessor all they end up producing is a low-power x86 clone. big deal.

    as someone who works in the semiconductor biz, there are a hundred ways of lowering power requirements, and most of them are much easier than Crusoe's solution.

    let's face it, if Intel puts a team on it, they could easily match Crusoe's power curve. hell, they could even take an existing mobile pentium and purposely UNDER-clock it, sell the chip as a loss-leader (or near loss-leader) for a short while and drive Transmeta completely out of the market.

    when it comes down to it, if Linus didn't work there, nobody would give a damn about Transmeta.

    - j

  • How much did Linus make????

  • I don't think the geek factor is enough of a business model on which to base a product release.

    I wouldn't mind playing with one myself, but it is clear from the benchmarks that performance is lacking and the extension on battery life is minimal at best.

    Compaq, much like just about any other laptop manufacturer, would prefer to be in the volume market and not the niche, "geek", market. That will only come through satisfying the yuppie craving for the fastest laptop on which to run Powerpoint.

  • >>not simply flexing big muscles (the government is supposed to have laws against that)
    BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!
    Damn your funny ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Since no one mentioned it, the Transmeta (TMTA) IPO was today.
  • But does the Chip have performance issues? If so, I would suspect that Compaq would want to hold off until these issues are resolved. In the laptop wars, speed and battery life is everything...the Chip just may be unproven and Compaq may wait until someone else tests the waters first. Just a thought. Digger.

  • It's been nothing but bad news for Transmeta lately, two product cancellations in two weeks, poor performance numbers and just a general lack of direction in getting to market.

    AND YET, they debut on the market yesterday and beat expectations, even after an increase in the initial pricing. And we all though the investment community has wised up.
  • CNN runs a story about Transmeta's IPO. In the story [cnn.com] thet say how Transmeta is the first IPO since September to double it's IPO proce on it's first day of trade.

  • As I write this, Transmeta's stock is up 129%. What a roller coaster ride. While this is supposed to look good for the company, it really has the potential to be quite a disaster. The good news is that the company raised more than $200 million in capital, enough to keep rolling for a few more days.

    But I don't think anyone should believe that the folks at Transmeta are seeing this money. The folks at the company won't be able to cash out for some time. Wall Street has always been good at hyping stocks. The shares are allocated to friends who then turn around and sell them in the aftermarket for a quick buck. It's a very sleezy process and it's not surprising that IPO shares are used as grease in many political situations.

    This kind of wild ride can often hurt a company. I'm very bullish on Red Hat and VA Linux, but all I hear about is their descent from the stratosphere. Somehow the companies have a cloud hanging over them. The money from the peak didn't end up in the company treasury. It didn't end up in the pockets of the programmers or the workers. It only went into the hands of the speculators. But the company and the programmers must pick up the pieces underneith this cloud of failure.

    The Compaq decision is surprising and probably the result of some brassknuckle dealing between the companies. Transmeta probably pushed too hard in negoatiations and didn't have the benchmarks to justify their demands. I can't say I blame Compaq or IBM. They can always come back after the IPO when real chips are shipping and negoatiate a more stable price.

    The saddest part about this event is how it shows how the nerds are being used by the Wall Street guys.


  • I wonder whats happening here.

    Intel is slimier then MS.

    ~Sean
  • those nice young lawyers from the Department of Justice!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm a little confused (maybe like the rest of you), as to why anyone believes that looping the benchmarks will do any good. Benchmarks tend to fall into two categories:
    First, there are benchmarks which are a snippet of code from a real-world application. These snippets are not random, but are captured to represent the typical operation of the application. However, the code tends to be more diverse, with fewer loops and a wider variety of subroutines, which tend to make these benchmarks scale very poorly with most processors.
    Second, there are the so-called "artifical" benchmarks, which are programs written to emphasize some aspect of a processor's operation (memory bandwidth, integer/floating point throughout, etc.) These benchmarks scale extremely well, because they contain numerous well-behaved loops.

    Processors have numerous innovations that make them tuned for looped code. Processors have had instruction caches for at least 15 years now. Intel has a trace cache [intel.com] in the Pentium 4. AMD has predecode In addition, modern processors incorporate branch prediction schemes to help predict loops. With a the same pieces of code run through the processor several times, the processor will usually get the direction of the branch correct, leading to greater execution throughput [amd.com]

    Getting back to the original point, looping any piece of code through any processor will improve its performance on that code, provided that it fits in its caches and predictors. Since a majority of benchmarks are application-based, I can see why Transmeta is a bit concerned about comparing apples to apples. Even with pre-translated code, Crusoe is not much better of than any other x86 processor.

    That being said, their low power technology was a good idea, but their overall performance is lower, so I'm betting that Intel's high performance coupled with their lower power versions is at the heart of IBM and Compaq's decision, not through any political or economic pressure, but simply because Transmeta isn't that far in the lead with (performance/power).
  • I wonder how this will affect Transmeta's IPO this morning. Typically the noon hours are light on trading, but if Compaq is pulling it, and IBM is delaying, will they reach the predicted $55/share that analysts are forecasting, or will they drop below the $18/$21 intro price?
  • The problem with today's benchmarks are that they don't simulate real honest-to-goodness usage patterns.

    Hehe... that reminds me of a 3d card I saw reviewed in some gaming mag a while back... the reviewers ran several sets of 3d benchmark apps on them, and the card blew every existing card out of the water by quite a margin. Real-world performance (frame rate, image quality tests on various FPS games, some flight sims, etc...) was absolutely pathetic. It was basically a card designed to perform excellently on 3d benchmark tests, at the cost of everything else. Heh!

    ----
    Dave
    MicrosoftME®? No, Microsoft YOU, buddy! - my boss
  • It doesn't matter how advanced the technology is, how cool it sounds, nor who helped design it. If there isn't a market need for the product, it's going to be hard to find people to integrate it. Crusoe offers somewhat higher battery performance at the cost of performance. Does the market want lower performance?

    Apparently not. However, there are a couple of other markets that the Crusoe could target fairly easily, that may be more viable:

    • Emulation of ARM and other PDA processors.

      Wouldn't it be nice to have a low-power chip that could run standard PDA application and OS code "natively" but with far more heft? The Crusoe could fit this niche easily. Add appropriate support to a pared down Linux or *BSD, and you could even run, say, PalmOS and Windows CE as two processes on the same PDA. This has potential.

    • Power-hungry but uber-performing desktops.

      Code morphing is a wonderful idea. I've taken my share of compilers courses, so I know how sub-optimal most code is going to be. If you have OS support for profiling and incremental optimization on the fly without too much overhead, you could blow the competition out of the water. Right now people try to do that in silicon with complicated scheduling units, with limited success (I've had my share of VLSI courses, too).


    In summary, I feel that Transmeta has a few useful markets still open to it.
  • by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason.nash@AAAgm ... inus threevowels> on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @06:50AM (#642249)
    Compaq sells Athlons by the truckload in their desktops. Just go to any Best Buy and look.

    With IBM and Compaq both now not doing Crusoe notebooks, I think there is some problem that we don't know. Either price, or a real performance issue. Maybe the final power savings in a full size notebook just aren't worth the effort required to make a new model like this.
  • Has there been any benchmarks released on a Crusoe based system that can be directly compared with another system? Seems to me that most all the benchmarks I've seen thus far are based on the energy per instruction argument, and why Crusoe performs better per unit energy consumed. What I haven't seen are system level benchmarks that compares one against the other. I seem to recall that Transmeta argues that this is the wrong way to compare their chips, since mobile applications don't need the bleeding edge speed, so much as a long battery life.. However, there has to be some metric to evaluate them, so if they only perform like a "400 MHz P3", even if the power draw is on par with a "200 Mhz P3", there might still be limited market acceptance. From what I understand, the power draw of the CPU on a notebook accounts for less than 1/3 of the total draw by the notebook, so even if Crusoe consumes 0.0W, the total for the notebook is still quite high. The big TFT screens that Corporate America favors just sucks up all sorts of power. Futuristic wearable computers with head mounted displays might consume less power, and web pads etc would be interesting for Crusoe to attack. The problem here is that they need to develope the market fast before they run out of funding.
  • Yeah sure, I bet code morphing will be great for the RTOSs these sort of systems tend to use.

    Gfunk


    --Gfunk
  • So, the Dept. of Justice is the catch-all solution for issues such as this? Jeezis...

    Did I cheer when M$ got their (initial) slap from the govt? Kinda. You want to cheer for the big bully getting smacked around.. but from a bigger bully?

    Don't you think involving the government in market concerns sets a rather bad precedent? I wanted to cheer like mad seeing Gates stomped.. but for what reason was I cheering? Is it any better that the government is trying to tell these companies how to conduct busisness? Look at the state of some of this contry's agencies & their desire to micromanage every single little detail. Case in point: the 'gas crisis' this summer combined with the DOE (Dept. of Energy) & EPA. See what happens to an industry sector when you let government have any sort of control, regulatory or otherwise?

    It's said a bunch, but take it to heart. Vote your Intel dissention yourself; with your wallet. I'll happily investigate Crusoe when/if the need arises. I'm more than happy to avoid Intel (I'm avoiding them right now; this is on an hp pa8600). But leave it to be my choice, not some damned 'market equality' mandate from some government agency. That is hardly better than the situation as it exists.
  • by EFGearman ( 245715 ) <EFGearman@@@sc...rr...com> on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @06:54AM (#642253)
    Once again, the artificial benchmarking system seems to doom yet another competitor. Due to the need to translate the x86 intruction set to their own instruction set (VLIW), TransMeta's Crusoe seems to be not the choice for Compaq.

    Obviously, there is going to be some slowdown when testing the entire instruction set (or a reasonable subset thereof), but Crusoe should beat out the P3 on repetitive tasks.

    Just my opinion here, we need new benchmarking standards.

    Eric Gearman
    --
  • I've been thinking, as I hear about companies 'declining' to produce notebooks with Crusoe processors. Could it simply be that the numbers don't look good?

    Companies go nuts trying to please consumers (or so the story goes). Surely they have pre-knowledge the the best seller is the processor with the biggest number on it. Mhz sell. And let's face it, Crusoe is not a big Mhz getter. And quite honestly I don't think any company wants to take a risk on something new if it isn't 'NEW AND IMPROVED'. In this case, that would mean something with far greated Mhz. It doesn't matter to comsumers that there is no way in hell your computer is using the Mhz that it already has. All that matters is that they get the biggest number possible. Could this be a valid theory?

    Oh wait, never mind. Conspiracies are the only accepted valid theories nowadays. Right folks?


    Slow moving marsupials and the women that love them
  • The /. crew editted my original title of "Compaq Dumps Crusoe"

    Thanks for making me look like a dope, guys.
  • You bet! I want a Crusoe chip in a wearable computer with an ultra small display (with magnification) and lower power tiny hd and/or large flash storage systems.
  • The CPU in any laptop is one of the largest power drains there is the 2nd would be the LCD and the distant 3rd would be the CD-ROM then Hard Disk ask any user the best battery life you can expect from your laptop is when the CPU is idle and the screen is off, defeats the purpose doesn't it. We need to address the issues one by one. CPU is the first to tackle the screen is currently being redesigned as we speak unfortunately it won't be really revamped for a few years.
  • My theory for why IBM's TM notebook is on hold:

    For whatever reasons, they can't produce enough chips. Maybe manufacturing problems, maybe it's just huge demand. Whatever the case, to increase market share and get as many companies using TM as possible, they put their own plans on hold and focus on producting enough chips to meet demand...

    -MG
  • Wait at least 30 days and see where it is. Anything under a month after the debut is all hype and frenzy.

    Don't you think it's going to go Berzerk first?(ok bad pun)
  • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @07:14AM (#642260)
    Could this be Intel flexing it's influential muscles, or is Transmeta not being competitive enough price-wise?

    Could it be that well established companies don't want to take a risk and use a new product from a company nobody knows anything about? Could it be that without Linus Torvalds, nobody would even bother to look at Transmeta? Could it be that the power savings from the CPU are hardly noticable in the large scheme of things when you have LCD backlights and hard drives to power?

  • ... if Microsoft's T abl et PC [zdnet.com] turned out to be Crusoe/Transmeta's salvation?
  • It's been nothing but bad news for Transmeta lately, two product cancellations in two weeks, poor performance numbers and just a general lack of direction in getting to market.

    Be careful here. Getting your news via secondhand web surfing tends to over-expose you to the negative side of things. There's a dangerous anti-Transmeta spin that Slashdot seems to enjoy promoting. Are there other non-Transmeta project cancelations that are not reported? How common is it for a computer maker to announce a project and decided to kill it before shipping? The over analysis of Transmeta is leading to warped views.
  • I can't believe that this news is coming out on the day of their IPO. This is going to hurt them. It's going to hurt even worse because of the timing. I wonder if this has been planned?

    Vanguard
  • From: http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/001107/n07 552 878.html [yahoo.com]

    Tuesday November 7, 1:16 pm Eastern TimeTransmeta stock soars in Wall Street debut

    NEW YORK, Nov. 7 (Reuters) - The stock of Transmeta Corp. (NasdaqNM:TMTA [yahoo.com] - news [slashdot.org]) more than doubled on Tuesday in the highly anticipated Wall Street debut of the maker of low-power-consuming microprocesors that are making a big splash in the laptop computer market.

    Transmeta stock was up $21-1/2 at $42-1/2 in heavy trading on Nasdaq, well above its initial public offering price of $21, which already had been raised to $16-$18 on Friday from $11-$13 a share. Transmeta raised $273 million by selling 13 million shares at the $21 per share offering price.

    In what appears to have been a false start to trading, a Nasdaq member firm began trading the stock before its official opening, which had been set for 1 p.m. EST, a Nasdaq spokesman said. In those premature trades, which were subsequently cancelled, the stock appeared to have traded up $19 at $40.

    The offering was a bright spot after some dreary months for the IPO market. In October, 35 companies held off from going public, the highest number in one month since CommScan LLC started tracking the figures in October 1990.

    Investors and analysts have been intrigued by Santa Clara, Calif.-based Transmeta's Crusoe microprocessors that consume far less power than those made by Intel Corp. (NasdaqNM:INTC [yahoo.com] - news [slashdot.org]) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE:AMD [yahoo.com] - news [slashdot.org]). That means longer battery life, a crucial goal for laptop computer makers.

  • by uradu ( 10768 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @08:22AM (#642265)
    The Crusoe chips in their current incarnations are simply x86 wannabees. They emphasise power thriftiness over performance. Therefore if Intel and AMD come out with equally power efficient chips, their advantage would be gone. Besides, as has been pointed out numerous times, the CPU is only one part in the power budget of a portable, and not even the largest one.

    Transmeta should instead apply the code morphing technology in fields without ready competitors. Maybe something like a Java chip, or something fitting into Microsoft's .NET architecture. Or develop a hybrid chip that can switch between x86 and PPC instruction sets dynamically, allowing you to run Windows and MacOS for example on the same machine at the same time. There are lots of issues that would make the latter pretty hard beside the CPU, but my point is to take advantage of your strengths to do something your competitors can't.
  • Remember back then , they were shipping Netscape on their desktop! Then Microsoft told them to bend over and put IE, they did.

    Um. So did the rest of the computer industry. Compaq was far from a loner in that aspect.

    If Intel whent over to them and told them to bend over and use their PIII chips, you can bet they are bending pretty sweetly right now.

    As someone already stated, Compaq is already heavily committed to the Athlon, the Pentium family's main/only competition. They own and produce the Alpha, Merced and McKinnely's future competition. I'd figure that Compaq has done enough damage to intel and vice versa, that Intel can't possibly hold anything over their head when it comes to Compaq adopting new chips.

    Now, if it was Dell that one week announced Crusoe laptops and the next week cancelled the plan and simultaneously introduced $100 price cuts across their product line, then i'd think that intel got to them.

    Look at the facts. Compaq uses AMD K6 and Athlons. They produce and own Alphas. The "threat" of crusoe doesn't nearly stack up to the threat that compaq already presents to intel.

    Maybe it's something to do with the Crusoe, ever consider that?
  • by dbarclay10 ( 70443 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @08:23AM (#642267)
    The problem with today's benchmarks are that they don't simulate real honest-to-goodness usage patterns.

    Before the Crusoe, they came close enough. Running the same program on a processor multiple times yielded the same results, so long as the program wasn't competing for resources. Those processors were in a limited way "stateless," which is to say that they don't remember anything from the last time the program ran.

    Since benchmarkers didn't need to worry to much about it, the benchmarks generally run a program once, then run a different one, then a different one, etc., etc., etc..

    In real life, however, a person is likely to open Word, then maybe open Internet Explorer, close Word, open Excel(which shares a lot of code with Word), close Excel, open Internet Explorer, and so on. That is *real life* usage, and Crusoe performs fairly well at it - certainly not as bad as traditional benchmarks would suggest.

    When was the last time you played Quake III for two minutes? Yeah, I thought so. Fact is, when you're running on a Crusoe, those first two minutes will be much slower than the subsequent hour ;)

    So, as you can understand, Crusoe doesn't need "rigged" benchmarks - it just needs *real* benchmarks. The problem isn't that Crusoe will only perform well if the benchmarks are rigged, the problem is that Crusoe *won't* perform well unless the benchmarks put a computer under the same stresses and loads(or lack thereof) that a computer will go through on a daily basis.

    Dave
    'Round the firewall,
    Out the modem,
    Through the router,
    Down the wire,
  • I do not think the comparison with AMD is appropriate. K6 was a mediocre design and they could not even produce them after K6 was announced. When the finally were able to produce it in quantity, Intel had faster and better processors and K6 was delegated to the low end.

    Athlon on the other hand is a superior design and AMD is digging deeply in Intel's market share at the high end.

    It took some time of course but Athlon's martket share have been growing since the introduction.

    The problem was that the manufacturers initially (after K6) did not trust AMD's ability to produce enough of their processors.

    The problem with Transmeta, however, is that it does not have a clearly superiour technology (i.e. the saving in battery life are offset by the fact the the performance is relatively poor). I was surprised that so many manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon so fast. The defections are not surprising at all. If (a big if) Transmeta can keep up and deliver, they will be come back eventually.

  • ...that a broker friend of mine <a href="">scooped me</a> to the information.

    For shame ;-)
  • Yeah, but what about when the DOJ slapped down IBM back in the '80s? Before that, IBM was about as unfriendly as you could get. Now, they do really cool stuff, don't agressively lean on their competitors, and generally behave nicely to everyone else. Sometimes a little government interference in the market is needed.


    -RickHunter
  • Yeah...but the number of devices without large LCDs/hard drives/memory/etc. is increasing - portable devices. If, as the reports indicate, this market is rapidly expanding, I can imagine Crusoe chips will be quite applicable there.
  • by dboyles ( 65512 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @09:59AM (#642272) Homepage
    Even if the processor's power were reduced to nothing, there would only be a 30% savings in consumed power.

    Only 30%? For most new laptops, that means almost an extra hour of battery life. If the Crusoe coule cut CPU battery consumption in half, we're looking at an extra 30-45 minutes of battery power in your laptop. That's not minor.

    Imagine if GM came out with a way to give its Camaro the same power/weight ratio, but with a 15%-20% savings in gasoline consumption. It would be hailed as an engineering marvel in the auto industry.
  • The news comes at a particularly bad time for Transmeta, whose initial public offering is scheduled to start trading around 9 a.m. PST Tuesday.
    Now that's a shite way to start it off. Whoever said "There's no such thing as bad press" never worked in the stock market. Sharkey
    www.badassmofo.com [badassmofo.com]
  • Transmeta doesn't have a compelling product.

    Without the RDF of Linus on their staff, I doubt that Transmeta would have as much visibility as they do.

  • that the crusoe may not be the best processor in the world? seriously, folks, the fact that the concept adds a layer of software to 'morph' the instructions sounds kinda ridiculous to me. If you want a low power microprocessor go with a RISC based architecture ... like any Mac or Sun or HP. Have you ever noticed that a Mac does not need a fan?

    Just because it was 'designed' by Linus does not make it a wonder product ...
  • by stilwebm ( 129567 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @07:19AM (#642278)
    It doesn't matter how advanced the technology is, how cool it sounds, nor who helped design it. If there isn't a market need for the product, it's going to be hard to find people to integrate it. Crusoe offers somewhat higher battery performance at the cost of performance. Does the market want lower performance? I think you'll find that pricing is based on processor performance and features like built in ethernet, firewire, etc. right now, and battery life is something laptop users have come to accept as being less than 4 hours. If people are going to buy a laptop with lower performance, they expect lower cost. If Transmeta wants to fit in to the market, they need to adjust their pricing and help integrators market battery life better. And saying a 600MHz processor has performance like a PIII at 500MHZ when it is really more comparable to a 350MHz PIII doesn't help your marketting campaign one bit. It isn't like the users aren't going to verify that.
  • by BadBlood ( 134525 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @06:56AM (#642279)
    Just like Linux is having/has had a hard time overcoming the Windows mind-share, so will Transmeta have a similar fate with regard to Intel/AMD.

    You can't really expect such a big splash right away with relatively unproven technology (market wise). Just be glad someone (Sony) has given Transmeta/Crusoe a chance and let the performance of their product dictate their success. Look how long AMD took to really get a foothold in the CPU market. After all their K6's, it wasn't really until the Thunderbird Athlon that they earned their place in the market with a fantastic product.

  • I don't know if you're neccessarily wrong.

    From what it seems to me is that IBM is waiting for someone else to test the waters and then reap the benifits of a tested product. While Compaq is just giving it up for now (no decision is buisness is final).

    I suspect they found something wrong. IBM's attitude recently fits very well into what the Crusoe offers. It is new, popular with the geeks, Linux-Able, cheap(?), etc... And if they turned it down...

    Devil Ducky
  • It looks like the Crusoe processor is really going to take off and fly. Like an Iridium satalite.

  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2000 @07:23AM (#642283) Homepage
    Umm so on the basis that it is slower on the overall benchmarks and that these benchmarks aren't designed to make Transmeta win... you want new benchmarks. The benchmarks referenced are application benchmarks, and what better test of a CPU than how quickly it runs an application.

    Sounds so like MS "we're quicker if you let us rig the test" comparisons with Linux.

  • "A professor of mine once examined the power use of a laptop but disassembling it, and reassembling it on sheet of plywood. He added ammeters between the major components and discovered that 1/3 of the power is used by the hard drive, 1/3 by the LCD, and 1/3 by the processor."

    A friend of mine once examine how a laptop saves power. By using it, he noticed that the harddrive could spin down, and that the LCD could turn off. One thing that wasn't changing to save power was the CPU -- it was always going at one hundred percent when being used in normal mode, and wasn't changing its power profile based on code.

    Your argument is called a straw man. You're distracting from the truth by putting a simplified picture of the issues out there. Say your laptop-equiped CEO is running Word on a plane. Chances are the HD will have a chance to spin down, as it'll be working in memory. Obviously the LCD won't be turning off as the CEO works on the document. BUT thanks to the Crusoe, it can use its codemorphing to adapt its emulation to the task at hand, and change its power draw from a couple of watts to one watt or less. That's an important savings.
    --
  • Well "Compaq Holds Off on Crusoe" makes it sound more like Crusoe is going to be delayed instead of being shelved altogether.
  • Now that Intel has publically flogged Rambus, Intel's partners are finding Intel a bit less unattractive. That's probably mainly it. I'm sure there are technical reasons, but those are always squishy enough to work over, especially if Transmeta learns to be more flexible on price. If it's cut or die, of course they'll cut, so I doubt that's the issue. It's gotta be strategic.
  • Exactly, the items that use the most power in the PC are as follows:

    1) LCD
    2) Hard Drive
    3) Memory
    4) CD/DVD (If used sparingly, otherwise higher up)
    5) CPU

    Remember, the CPU will sleep and shut down portions on HLT instructions, memory is always going.

    Plus, code morphing just isnt fast.....I dont want my programs to run faster the more i use them, I want them to run fast everytime. And the fact that it caches translated code in main memory....oh great, I thought shared video memory took too many precious resources from systems!
  • no - if it were a technical reason (chip not as fast as advertised, consumes more power than advertised, not stable) - Transmeta could make up for that by pricing the chip right. If they don't do that, they go out of business. Right? It's rather compelling.

    So I believe that the real issues are strategic - (mind you, some people call these strategic business motivations "conspiracy theories"). In the recent past, computer manufacturers were kind of fearful of Intel's posturing, especially with Rambus cramming patents down everyone's throat. Computer manufacturers were looking for alternatives. AMD is one. Cyrix (gag) is another, now here comes Crusoe. Sure, baby, why don't you come over here and sit by me?

    Then Intel publically floggs Rambus, and manufacturers gain a bit of territory back (namely, the choice, in system design, of what kind of RAM to use) - and they all flock back to Intel.
  • The trolls sit in utter frustration
    &nbsp And fear and loathing and consternation
    Women around them they dare not touch
    &nbsp They sit in private and dream too much

    They tiptoe through forums in anonymity
    &nbsp throwing stones at Anne Marie
    Did she mock, slight or bait?
    &nbsp No, her crime is to cogitate.

    Although her opinions are often odd
    &nbsp at least her brain is not a pod
    Oh my! Imagine that threat of late
    &nbsp A female geek who states it straight.

    Dare I make this non-AC? Such temptation...
    this might ruin my reputation.


    --

  • Admit it, not seeing a Crusoe in a Compaq Armada just might make Linus Torvalds livid. Watch out now, Transmeta's IPO value might go the way of priceline.com: shoot way up, then plummet down, ending up only 1/4 of its original value.

    Remember:

    megalomaniacal software developer + hardware manufacturer = DISASTER!!!

    Just as:
    Bill Gates + Pocket PC = debt, it might turn out that:

    Linus Torvalds + Transmeta = bust.

  • Now I may be mixing up something but my question is - is the Word code small/uniformic enough to get translated once, or it will be translated again and again as something bigger than translated instructions cache? In that case performance will be just as low as benchmarks (because every time something happens in Word's tummy it will be re-translated again)...

    -----
  • Okay... they only talk about IBM's not putting out a laptop but its an interesting piece (and in the print version it had Linus's picture to go along with it :)

    http://www.nydailynews.com/2000-11-07/News_and_Vie ws/Media_and_Business/a-87490.asp [nydailynews.com]

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