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Intel's Competitor to the Crusoe Processor 115

TJ6581 writes "C|Net news has an article up about Intel's new competitor(s) to the Crusoe Processor. Apparently the new chip uses half a watt of power and did not require a major re-design. Also mentions in the article that IBM will be using this processor in the notebook originally designed for Transmeta's processor." Update: 01/30 06:48 PM by H : This is the update to the story I posted last October - Intel has come through.
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Intel's Competitor to the Crusoe Processor

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  • This is what "compotation" is all about. Yes some will see Intel as "evil" in entering this market but lets be realistic -- this is all about business and there is nothing fair when it comes to business since: "business is war".

  • by Hardwyred ( 71704 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @10:12AM (#469523) Homepage
    You know, regardless of how you feel about Intel or Transmeta, this proves that competition is a great thing. When we just had AMD vs Intel, it was all about Mhz. Who would get to 1 gig first and then beyond. Now we have Transmeta and suddenly its not just about fast, but efficient also. This is really what the MS trial should be about. Agree to Disagree that Microsoft is a monopoly, but they really dont have the competition that Intel has in AMD/Transmeta. Good things come to the consumer from competition, and after playing with Windows ME, MS could definetly use a Good Thing.

    ...and the geek shall inherit the earth...
  • Unfortunately, if the reward for competing against Intel that you waste a lot of your investor's money in order to save Intel customers money, I doubt that, in a few years, there's going to be a lot of people stupid enough to even try and enter the microprocessor market.

    There's only going to be competition if there's a chance that you can win. However, the general sentiment (especially around corporations) is "Thank goodness these alternatives exist. If they didn't, we'd have to spend much more on our industry standard stuff."

    Don't expect to the reap the benefits of competition forever if you have no desire to look at a competitors product. Of course, that's hardly a warning that Slashdot-ites need to hear :-).
  • "To get below 1 watt, they have to drop the speed of a PIII to just 300 MHz."

    Where did you get this information? MHz and Watts have no direct, mathematical link between each other. Who did your math?

    My calculation for a standard 300Mhz processor is way over 1 watt, at 14.3 Watts.

    P=VI; 4.33A (Socket 5) * 3.3V = 14.289Watts
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @10:14AM (#469526)
    Where did you get this information? MHz and Watts have no direct, mathematical link between each other. Who did your math?

    It has everything to do with frequency. Where do you think those 4.33 amps come from? Modern processors are made using a process called CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor), which is just a fancy name for two different types of transistors connected together: an N-FET and a P-FET. FET == Field Effect Transistor. The N- and P- refer to whether the transistor turns on or off when the gate voltage is above the threshold.

    A P-FET turns off when Vin > Vt and an N-FET turns ON when Vin > Vt. If you connect a voltage to the gates of both an N-FET and P-FET, and connect the FETs together, you get a nice situation where there is very little wasted voltage (prior to CMOS, people used NMOS, which used a pull-up resistor instead of a PFET, which meant that power was always being drained in the resistor).

    However, there's a problem. The transistors can't switch from "on" to "off" instantly. There's a tiny bit of time when both transistors are in tho "on" state (roughly corresponding to a short across the source/drain), meaning that current can zoom straight through both transistors to ground, which is bad. This is where you lose power.

    Now, you do the math: if a simple NOT gate (which is just two FETs as described above) is switching at something like 1 time per second, you don't lose very much power. But if instead it's switching a million times a second, you lose one million times that previous value. And if it's switching at a billion times a second (one gigahertz), then you're losing a billion times that much power.

    You should learn a bit more about what you're talking about before you attempt to lay down the smack.

  • by vlatko ( 311157 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @10:14AM (#469527)
    Intel is big, and they can pull this marketing thing for a while. What
    they did is produced the chip that works fast when the notebook is used as
    desktop computer, with power adapter on. As soon as the power adapter is
    unplugged, the chip goes to being slow.

    Besides, really nice technology about Crusoe is that it can detect when
    user is having high demand on its laptop, and speed things up, then switch
    to low consumption when the computer is idle (like while you're watching
    something on the screen, not doing much). Intel has not developed such
    technology, it might, but not this year. What Intel is dumping the market
    with slow processors that consume less power, something expected for a
    while now, and make it sound like they're onto something big.

    Quite an expected low punch. Good marketing and excuse for US PC makers
    to offer slower laptops for higher price. It will take a deployment of
    Crusoe based products, such as new Sony laptop, to debunk the myth. Will
    the Transmeta survive? If they have enough money and one or two faster
    chips for this year, I would think in deed.

    Plus, Intel plans to produce those chips in a year. A long time, specially after delays.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is al ready a chip that is fast. Generates little heat and runs on a small amount of electricity. It's called Power PC. The real problem is getting rid of the mentality that clock speed is everything. It has lead to an entire generation of power hungry, inefficient, space heaters know as the PIII and the Athlon. This GHz war has gotten out of hand.
  • Same thing happened when XBox was announced to have AMD cpu
  • Large companies have difficulty innovating. This is just the nature of the beast. This is one reason why we shouldn't fear big companies becoming a 100% monopoly in a free market. It won't happen unless there's no way to improve what the company is doing. The little guys with wacky ideas will find a way to carve out some market if their ideas have any merit at all. If the big guy catches on in time, and they compete honestly then the consumer wins with better features or lower cost. If they don't, the little guy provides something better (in some way -- cost, features, etc), and the consumer wins again.

    The only drawback of course, is when the big company doesn't compete on merit but uses behind the scenes coercion. Intel AFAIK has gained marketshare by luck (IBM PC) and going for good, but not risky solutions, and executing well enough.

    I'm not sure you would want an Intel that was innovative, took huge risks, and never failed to execute. I'm sure AMD and Transmeta stockholders don't want that.
  • no, the rolling blackouts should wake people up about lack of government control/intervention over necessary commodities...
  • I think you also have to reboot in order for SpeedStep to step down. Am I wrong or is that another one of the things Intel always conveniently leaves out when talking about their mobile cpus?
  • I have to wonder if this will be yet another area in which Intel will shoot themselves in the foot.

    Look at the Pentium 4 chips. They have flopped from the begining, and, according to a few sources, there are several architecture flaws and set-backs still within the chip.

    AMD has obviously capitalized on the giant's fall by releasing lower speeds in MHz that out-perform faster chips. And AMD's 64-bit chips will show the same results. EV6 architecture is better than what Intel is doing.

    Maybe it is just time that Intel quits pulling the Microsoft and work on improving their current collection.

  • The common (simplified) relation is P=afCVdd^2 Where f is clock frequency, C is total capasative load, Vdd is the core voltage and a is a scaling factor between 0-1 which is a weighted average of the switching rate of all nodes related to f.

    Reduction of feature size greatly reduces C, and will also permit a reduction of Vdd.

    So yes there is an almost linear mathematical relationship between frequency and power as long as you dont change the other significant factors (Vdd, a, Cl). However as the delay of a gate a bit simplified can be modelled as t=kCl/BVdd where k is a constant typically at around 3, Cl is the gate load and B the conductance of the open circuit to Vdd or Vss (ground). B depends on transistor dimentions (higher B means bigger transistors, which means higher Cl for the preceeding gate).

    Thus when you lower f you can exploit this by lowering Vdd and/or reducing C. (Its then generally preferable to lower Vdd until you reach the limits of what you can support, then reduce C to speed, this due to the quadratic relationship between Vdd and P)
  • Why would Transmeta want to underclock their chips down to 300Mhz to save 1/2 watt?
  • Have you considered Linux? ;)

    Runs real good on those Transmeta chips, too.

    More seriously, the chips are good these days, but bloatware sucks back the advances. If you want fast, try running some of the older stuff ... such as WP 5.1 on DOS, on a PIII. Your problems stem from one source - M$. Win2K? Bloat. Lousy memory management, but worse, 50 gazillion background processes sucking back cycles (OK, the number is closer to 50, but the point still stands) MS Office? Bloat. Doesn't even matter which version. M$ Outlook? Bloat^nth, on both PC (and Server, if your using one), and the biggest security hole to come out of Redmond. RTF? WTF! Use text or HTML, but avoid M$ formats. It also kinda sucks that certain M$ progs check files for M$ tags before loading ... and they load significantly faster if the tags are present.

  • especially considering that Intels engineering department appears to be run by the marketing department.

    Pardon for being slightly off the thread, but can you think of any successful company that isn't marketing driven? I'm a tech person, not business, but it seems that every tech company has to make the switch from engineering driven to marketing driven in order to be successful (success doesn't always equal income though).

    Anway your above phrase just struct me as odd..

  • The bad name AMD made for itself with it's old chips? What about the good name it has made with its new chips? I consistantly see them meet deadlines and ship dates (unlike Intel), and from the benchmarks I have seen their current products have been faster and cheaper than their Intel counterparts. I don't think that many people out there these days see AMD and automaticly think that it is an inferior product.

  • Besides, really nice technology about Crusoe is that it can detect when
    user is having high demand on its laptop, and speed things up, then switch
    to low consumption when the computer is idle (like while you're watching
    something on the screen, not doing much). Intel has not developed such
    technology, it might, but not this year

    Bullshit. It's called the HLT instruction and any decent OS executes this instruction when idle. It's been in Intel CPU's for ages and works excellent to conserve power: as long as you run a non-brain-dead OS.

    When Transmeta publishes figures that actually show the power consumption when the CPU IS busy, then we'll see how far they actually are ahead of comparable speed Intel CPUs.

  • >...the embedded market at some stage over the next few years. I fear for Intels future, in this regard.

    Clearly you've forgotten about Intel's XScale [] architecture (the successor to the StrongARM []). The ARM [] processor currently holds a HUGE [] segement of the embedded market, and Intel is promising the same low-power high functionality technology at speeds up to 1GHz in the near future. If anything, their presence in the embedded market is growing.

  • Is it CPU speed or I/O throughput that's killing you? Is the hard drive grinding away, or is the CPU operating on a copy of the file in RAM?

    The problem with code bloat has to do with CPU mhz bloat. As the average CPU speed climbs and RAM increases, Microsoft feels free to use every spare cycle. Tell executives that they can choose a laptop that runs for 2 hours at 800mhz or one that runs for 8 hours at 300mhz and you will find a lot of 300mhz laptops and a lot of pressure on Microsoft to make things responsive on a 300mhz machine.

  • You mean like the Open Source community which is still trying to perfect a desktop GUI? LOL.
  • Apparently the new chip uses half a watt of power and did not require a major re-design.

    Alright, the first 100.000% x86-compatible CPU that consumes half a watt! I don't care if Linus isn't on the development team; he's probably half of Transmeta's troubles.

  • score Mod -1 on this one.. reason.. what's the point? (offtopic, offtheirrocker, off-the-glue-soon-we-hope) and no one rids /. of this drivel why?
  • It's as if Microsoft coded the translation app with a lot of WaitAndPunishUserForUsingNonWordDocumentFormat() loops.

    I'll bet that isn't far from the truth. Sounds like exactly the sort of thing they would do, and then turn around and tell the public that it's slow because those other, non-MS formats are "inferior" and just naturally take a long time to process.

  • The 4.33 amps is not fixed, Mr. Smarty Pants; it varies with frequency.

    You need to use this one: P=CFV^2

    P = power
    C = capacitance
    F = frequency
    V^2 = voltage squared

    As you can see, power varies linearly with frequency. Actually, it's better than that: at lower frequencies, you can use a lower voltage, so you get a kind of x^3 relationship with frequency.

    Patrick Doyle
  • Imagine how fast a JVM could be on a chip with so much JIT support?
    Patrick Doyle
  • by jkorty ( 86242 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @09:53AM (#469549) Homepage
    This appears to be entirely a marketing campaign. All Intel did was lower the clock rate until they hit the desired power-consumption level. Hardly rocket science.
  • True, however, I'd be willing to take the performance hit (200 MHz) if it meant that my battery life was extended from 4 or 5 hours to better than 8. There's nothing more frustrating than having to search frantically for an electrical outlet when your laptop is beeping at you... As you pointed out, it IS plenty of horsepower to run office applications.

    Hardly revolutionary, no, but well worth the savings on battery life.
  • have you read the article? didn't it say 500mhz?
  • Ignore him, fascdot is still bitter since he couldn't auction his account.
  • by Fesh ( 112953 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @09:57AM (#469553) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one who smells a back-room deal between Intel and IBM? IBM decides to try putting rather innovative low-power chips by an upstart company... Then a while later, they announce that they're not going to use them after all. A while after that, Intel comes out with a low-power chip and IBM decides to use it for the same application that would have been filled by the new company's chip.

    I'm very suspicious of this flow of events... Intel hears that IBM is thinking about using a chip by another possible competitor, sends a representative over to do some arm twisting, bribing, etc. etc... "Just wait long enough for us to get our low-power PIII out the door..."

    Pheeeew. That's got quite a stench to it.


  • I think that this idea should be persued with the highest degree of intensity, but on a different level. Low powered notebooks are nice, however, what about low powered servers and desktop units? Shouldn't the rolling blackouts in Calafornia trigger to someone that we need to address the issue of power consumption in all industries and, lets admit here, that the Internet is possibly that giant sucking noise that the worlds' power suppliers hear. We keep trying for bigger and faster, but not more efficent. Forget the buggy 2GHz CPU chip that is on the drawing board. We *don't* need it (yet). It will give microsoft something to require -- that's all. New technology just makes old technology obsolete and less expensive. If you need all that CPU, check into a quad PII or something, which should be cheap enough now.

    It's no longer a matter of hardware catching up to software needs but vice versa. We have so many idle CPU cycles (your welcome, SETI) but we're wasting electricty in CPU cycles, and then we waste just as much energy on cooling the heat that those CPU's generate.

    I also agree that Intel will screw it up as they usually do. I mean, lets face it -- Every 1st generation Intel CPU release is about as reliable as an x.0 release of RedHat, so just work on making what already exists better and more efficent.

    I think the Internet community would thank you for it.

    "Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong"

    --Dennis Miller

    --Larry Reckner

  • It's not surprising that Intel was able to improve on crusoe power consumption so easily as this is not the original goal of the chip. IIRC the Transmeta story that was posted on /. a while ago told how they originally planned to use code morphing to make a processor with cutting edge performance. It was marketing that told them to focus on the low-power market.

    Now they are paying the price for not exploiting all the benefits of the technology they developed. I hope for their sake that they can find more "markets" for code morphing or they will end up just another company crushed by the Intel goliath.

  • "Update: 01/30 06:48 PM by H:"

    It's now 14:25 EST. If Hemos is still on this planet, he must be in the U.K. or Portugal. Way to go Hemos, such dedication whilst on a European vacation is not common to see these days!
  • "Typical knee-jerk reaction from Intel. They seem to do this more and more. "

    What, compete?

  • I'll bet that if Linus wasn't involved with Transmeta, many people would have dimissed the crusoe chip as vapourware/fud. Let's be realistic though. Transmeta doesn't really stand a chance against the empire. I can imagine that Intel's marketing drones will have a field day with the marketing of these new chips. Intel has a stronghold on the pc market that won't be easy to break - some people does not even trust the chips from AMD yet, because they have been conditioned over the years that intel inside (tm) (r) ... is the only way to go. My point with all of this is that it all boils down to successfull marketing - it's like those additives that you add to your car's engine oil. Many people have their doubts about the real merits of the product, but are swayed by the marketing campaign to buy the stuff. Intel : if we make it they will buy...
  • But you don't have to with Transmeta, that's the point. Intel has to drop clockspeed to compete with Transmeta's full clockspeed. Intel's power to performance still sucks compared to Transmeta.
  • Actually, with most digital silicon technologies (CMOS and related), power consumption and cycle speed have a very tight correlation. Not sure how this relates to the Pentium series (pretty sure they're using a CMOS or HCMOS process... anyone out there know for sure?), but typically half the clock speed can mean 1/4 the power consumption in these types of chips. This is because it doesn't take much power at all for the chip to operate... it's for the chip to change state that takes all the juice.

    In a CMOS circuit, the electricity involved is static (non-changing) and does not require a current flow. For those interested in electronics design, this is why you need pull-up resistors when interfacing CMOS to TTL. You need to explicitly supply a return path for the voltages, because the chip doesn't connect them through normally.

  • The writer of that article was probably correct about the 500MHz intel chip having performance on par with the 600MHz Transmeta chip.
    And he was probably correct about the intel chip running at 300MHz consuming less power than the Transmeta chip.
    But I have to ask: Why didn't he combine the two?
    How well does the intel chip perform in castration mode? And how much power does it consume at 500MHz?
    Of course that's a moot point, because you can only run it at full speed on AC power, even if you wanted to on battery power.
    I'd suspect that the Transmeta chip would run circles around the intel chip (laughing the whole time) if they were benchmarked on battery power. And what's the use of running 20% longer if it takes you 120% more time to do anything?
    I'd rather have five hours of good performance! (And I'd get a spare battery pack.)
  • Inovation does not equal huge risk. Coming out with new and better products is what keeps a business healthy.

    Intel stockholders would want that.

    If the Pentium could converted to low power so easily, there is not much risk in doing so is there?

  • I meant that they do not inovate. They always seem to be behind the eight ball.

    Good one!
  • Right on!

    I'd love to see an 8-way Cursoe server -- in a mid-tower case. This would never be possible with a Pentium.

    I think this is what Transmeta has had in mind all-along.

  • Intel has been working on Speed Step for the last year... How hard is it to drop down a clock speed. You could do it with a handfull of NAND gates, the problem is that most notebook users don't want a 300Mhz PIII, when they could have a 500Mhz PIII, if Intel had placed a little bit more in the design phase of the Mobile PIII.

  • they can get down to 0.13 micron. Transmeta is already there, they can have low power consumption and high mhz... Intel using 0.18 micron has low power consumption but low mhz as well. Intel will only be at transmeta levels by next year, and by then transmeta will be a year ahead. Nice Try Intel
  • Intel designs a desktop processor, and then moves it to the notebook world. Transmeta on the other hand is thinking out of the box, kinda like AMD did, and it is going to pay off in the long run.

  • If Linux were a beer, it would be shipped in open barrels so that anybody could piss in it before delivery.

    Nice sig, too bad it goes both ways. Try these analogies:
    If Windows was a beer...
    it would be sealed shut so that you have no idea what they put in your drink.
    On the side of the keg there is a warning saying that 1 in 5 kegs explode when you tap them.
    Some of the beers you pour will be flat forcing you to dump out your beer and pour another one.
    The beer tastes like shit, it makes you sick and lots of people laugh at you for drinking it, but you keep doing it (oh wait, that was my Budweiser analogy).
  • how many times will you be doing these things on a laptop? not many. laptops are designed for portability, not power. it seems as though people are losing focus as to what a laptop really is. if you want a portable powerhouse, find a small tower case and an AC outlet.

  • Someone hit on the point a couple of days ago about using Transmeta chips in servers. Are there any architecture changes that will need to be made to existing motherboards to accept these Intel CPU's?

    I say start shipping a bunch of these down to Silicon Valley to free up some electricity so we can read Slashdot all day long.

  • by crgrace ( 220738 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @06:59PM (#469571)
    Where did you get this information? MHz and Watts have no direct, mathematical link between each other. Who did your math?

    Actually, for CMOS, Power = C(Vdd^2)*f
    with Power in Watts, C (Capacitance) in Farads, Vdd in Volts, and f in Hertz.

    Basically, this equation says to lower power dissipation, we can lower Vdd (power supply), lower the capacitance, or reduce the clock frequency.

  • Intel will do with it like they do with their other products, they'll kill it. They have the 3com USR syndrom where they can't make anything right.
  • I couldn't agree with you more. BUT maybe the reason Transmeta are harping on about low power consumption the way they are is because it is the one feature that could make them money? Joe Average User won't care about the exact details of how the chip works, will he - he wants fast computing, and long battery life.
    The code morphing layer is indeed revolutionary, but what practical - profit-making - applications does it have right now? If people want x86 compatibility they buy an Intel or AMD CPU. One possibility I can think of is running native PowerPC (or even SPARC?) stuff - like a PC and a Mac in one - but surely that would require significantly more work on their code morphing.
  • At the risk of going off topic, I would just like to apologize for the idiocy of my original message.

    "Where did you get this information? MHz and Watts have no direct, mathematical link between each other. Who did your math?"

    I actually didn't mean to word it as an insult, but I just recently quit smoking. 8-).

    I was honestly wondering what the Eqn was. I'll be the 8th to admit I was wrong. Thanks to everyone who wrote me personally to call me a flaming retard. 8-)

  • this really hurts transmeta, it's probable time they start expaditing the code morphing feature and not the power consumption. I would love to have a system capable of running multiple codes based on different architecture, but to be realistic whats the point. will we ever escape the evil clutches of intel ?
  • by handorf ( 29768 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @09:41AM (#469576)
    The Register story on this read as "Intel targets Transmeta". Doesn't that kind of strike you as "Intel Targets Joe Blow"?

    An Intel spokes-droid said today "Since we've utterly failed to compete with AMD, we've decided to set our sights lower. Transmeta, watch out! We're taking your nonexistant market share!"

    Silly Intel, just make some decent chips.
  • While this is still vapourware, it looks bad for Transmeta.

    Well, it looks to me like this is just a Guyserville Pentium III (i.e. Mobile Pentium III with SpeedStep) that has been UNDERclocked to 300MHz. If you find a way to underclock the exisiting ones that far, I bet they'd only need half a watt, too...

    Has anyone actually brought out a notebook using their Crusoe processor yet, as in: can you buy one down the store right now?

    Yeah. Head down to CompUSA or Fry's, and check out the Sony 'PictureBook' PCG-C1XN. It's powered by a Crusoe processor, and I've seen it in stores for over two months now.

    My prediction: despite their technical innovation Transmeta will founder and eventually get bought out by... AMD.

    No... More likely by Via. They've been the ones on a processor-company buying spree. AMD seems to want to do it the hard way.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @09:40AM (#469578) Homepage

    While it does have low power consumption, it's not exactly brimming with processor power. To get below 1 watt, they have to drop the speed of a PIII to just 300 MHz. Of course that's still plenty to run office programs or an mp3 player, but it's hardly revolutionary.

  • I'll bet its an underclocked P3 or a brand new chip that needs 2 more years of work.
  • Didn't we already hear about this?
    MailOne []
  • tml
    MailOne []
  • Does it really matter how much power the processor uses in notebooks when the screen sucks the battery dry?

    Pardon my ignorance, but how about the "moving parts" of a laptop? I can imagine the harddisk taking up quite a bit of power as well, which could become very frustrating as you frantically try to save your hard work before you're out of power...
  • Not only will this result in smaller, cooler chips, but these processors will be made with copper, rather than aluminum, wires. Because they conduct electricity better, copper chips will reduce power consumption.

    I thought Intel has had horrible trouble making chips with copper? Is this true? If so, what can we expect from these chips? Isn't this why Intel is having so much trouble competing with AMD?

  • Transmeta's future is huge, but it's because of the code morphing software, which has to be one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and not their hardware, which is downright mediocre, if not laughably bad.
  • Change that to read benchmarks instead of real applications and you might be right. When you start talking about real applications, where you actually do the same thing again and again rather than switching tasks as fast as possible, a lot of the performance disadvantages of the Crusoe go away.

    That said, I'm not terribly worried either way. My workplace still uses PII 400 based desktops, and I have a PII 366 laptop, and they seem to be just fine for everyday use in a business setting. PIII 300 class performance is likely to be plenty for most applications anyway. It's not like you're going to be trying to set Seti@home records or do heavy-duty compilation work on your laptop.

  • Maybe he got his information from the article. Now there's a novel idea!

    From the article:

    On average, the new Pentium III consumes about half a watt of power, or less than half the power of Intel's current notebook chips.


    Like other mobile Pentium IIIs, the new chip contains SpeedStep technology, which lets the chip run at a slower rate when operating on battery power. The chip runs at 500MHz when plugged into a wall and at 300MHz on batteries.


    Transmeta countered Intel's assertions, noting that Intel's new 500MHz chip runs at 300MHz when the notebook is unplugged.

    "This is a very slow processor at 300MHz when mobile," a Transmeta spokesman said in an e-mail. "That's a big sacrifice to get to lower power levels. Transmeta is about double the megahertz at the same power levels."

  • "Do they have a big Open Source name working on it?"

    do you think that many people outside the Linux and programming communities even know who Linus is nevermind buy one product over another because of him?

  • Yes, you are right. If it weren't for the government imposed caps on the retail power rates, there would be no "crisis", just higher bills. And then there's the years of regulation and red tape that kept new plants from being economically viable in ca, so that ca utilities now have to pay spot market prices to get enough power--causing the high cost. To continually pay these rates and then being forced sell the power at a lower rate is forcing power cos into bankruptcy. All due to government control and intervention.

    The fundamental error in thinking was that the existing power infrastructure must be healthy since it reliably provided power for years. Well, the US system is overall fairly healthy, but the system in CA is not. Years of regulation and nimbyism caused a severe lack of generating capacity and led to reliance on the general health of the overall system.
  • I keep hearing Transmeta (and others) spout off about the low power requirements of their chip. While that is interesting, I think it really misses the point of what is interesting about Transmeta's chips.

    What is interesting about their chips is the abstraction layer and the benefits it provides. No longer is it impossible to update chips to fix flaws in them and no longer is it necessary to have a single vendor for whatever chip the software was designed for. The fact that Transmeta's chips happen to draw very little power doing it is really just a nice byproduct. I think Transmeta is doing itself a disservice by harping on this fact.

    Granted, low power consumption is an easier concept to communicate but I think it really misses the bigger picture. In the same way that higher level languages made software development easier than coding in assembly, Transmeta is taking the next step in abstraction. Easing software design barriers is what is truly interesting and revolutionary about what they are doing.

  • While Intel needs years to ramp up a new, expensive hardware architecture, Transmeta can copy it in a few months cheaply.

    AFAIK Transmeta used something like two years perfecting their code morphing software for x86 emulation only. Emulating hardware like AMD's or Intel's 64 bit one isn't that easy to make effectively. However, I wouldn't be that surprised if Transmeta had SSE2 support in the near future because it should increase floating point performance greatly. AMD is doing that too. Though if there isn't good support for floating point calculations in hardware I wouldn't expect that much...

    If their code morphing software is easily portable to other CPUs it would be interesting to see it's performance on something like Alpha or G4. Of course those don't have required hardware to make emulation effectively compared to Crusoe chips.

  • ... intel has a bunch of smart kids working for them.
    give smart people alot of time and money and they replicate
    something that already exists, shocking.

  • Um, I just waited 90 seconds on my PIII 600MHz with 256 meg RAM running Win2k for MS Office to translate a 1 MB document from .rtf. This document was a saved Outlook message. Don't tell me that 300MHz is fast enough. Fucking 600MHz isn't fast enough. When I have to wait these long times just to open a fucking document, even a relatively small file, there's just no excuse. The CPU's too slow, the software too bloated, and file formats too proprietary.
  • If they had stuck with this one [], they could actually have learned some of Transmeta's lessons by now. It was also designed to use less power than a standard processor, but I think more than this newly announced chip. ( considered it for the Netwinder before choosing Crusoe)
  • It's too bad that Transmeta's VCs had to spend so many million$ to get Intel off of it's fat lazy ass. Of course, Transmeta will probably be forced out of business, not because Intel's solution is any better, but because it looks better on paper, and is from Intel.

    Then once Transmeta is safely in Chapter 11, Intel can stop revving these low power CPUs, and go back to 60-watts-in-a-laptop-set-specs-for-drive-and-displ ay-manufacturers-to-produce-low-power-components. Don't you just LOVE the free market?
  • That's the thing. The HD is not being hit very hard, nor is the CPU pegged (I cancelled the process in Task Manager, WINWORD.EXE was at 0% most of the time, but if I waited, the process would complete - eventually).

    It's as if Microsoft coded the translation app with a lot of WaitAndPunishUserForUsingNonWordDocumentFormat() loops.

    The Word window is just sitting there, hourglassing away. Fuckitall.
  • First of all, kudos to Intel for this. Nice modification to their product.

    However, the writing in this story hit a new low, even for C|Net. It seems as though the reporter couldn't justify transcribing the entire press release, so he added a few sentences of his own. Aside from that, it was pure and utter pro-Intel, end of Transmeta, drivel.

    C|Net has never had great reporting, but this _stunk_.

  • Also, as Transmeta reduce feature sizes, they should be able to break into the embedded market at some stage over the next few years. I fear for Intels future, in this regard.

    why do people keep gunning for Transmeta to go into the embedded market? why do you want antiquated x86-based chips in the embedded market anyhow?

    x86 is still kicking because of backwards compatibility for PC applications. the embedded market doesn't need this kind of handicap! there are plenty of good embedded processors, such as PowerPC and MIPS, that are considerably better designed to meet the needs of true embedded applications.

    now if you're talking about a Transmeta chip that's not simply x86 compatible, perhaps with more direct access to their "true" instruction set, that's different. but embedded devices shoudn't be cripped by a processor that's better designed for other tasks. use the right processor for the job!

    - j

  • by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @12:34PM (#469598) Homepage

    I don't have any inside info. on how portable the code morphing is, but implementing a new instruction set (not x86) or porting code is bound be easier the second time around.

    They've got the experience from the first attempt, and that makes a huge difference.

  • foo []

  • How about a nod towards the PowerPC for balancing power and performance?

    AMD for now has a huge performance lead, at the sacrifice of power. Intel has a huge marketing and manufacturing lead, with slightly less power and slightly less performance.

    Transmeta wipes the floor with power, at the sacrifice of performance.

    How bout something in between?
    PowerPC, with good power, and good performance?

    Geek dating! []
  • In my line of work, in my company, Linux is not really a workable alternative. That's not to say that MS Office is THE standard in my company, things ARE changing, but in MY division, with the people I generally communicate with, Win/MS Office is a LONG standing tradition, and shaking them of it has been very difficult. And getting IT support when things are broke with non standard apps is impossible. So, I have to read LOTS of MS documents, and when I save my email, I used to use rtf a lot, and I don't remember it being this slow back when I was using Office97 on NT 4.0, on a P 166.
    It's just fucked.
  • The fact that AMD might be buying Transmeta will help them tremendously except for the bad name that AMD made for itsself with its k6-2 chips...

    What the hell are you talking about? The K6-2 was an excellent product (I'm still using a K6-2 system and have never had any problems with it). Oh, and let's not forget that it was the product that prompted Intel to release the original Celeron.

    You might also want to think about the present -- AMD's CPUs are the fastest x86 CPUs available and they cost far less than Intel's. If any company has made a bad name for itself, it's Intel (paper launches, P4, 1.13GHz PIII recall, rambus, bugs, bugs, more bugs... anything I've forgotten?).

  • , not because Intel's solution is any better, but because it looks better on paper,

    Not true, it's always easier to implement established architetures.

    Intel can stop revving these low power CPUs, and go back to 60-watts

    Not so sure. There's a good possibility that Intel may have made a bad move by tipping it's hand, now that it really CAN offer an excellent power/performance part. Of course, Intel could always flip the bird to the OEMs who established these low power designs, but not if there's a foothold from parasitic competition from AMD and Cyrix. We'll see.

    Don't you just LOVE the free market?

    Of course I do. What are you suggesting?

  • The great thing about Transmeta isn't that it's x86 compatible, but that it's compatible with other instruction sets. Thus, you can use Transmeta and not worry about them having to continue to make the chip or support the instruction set. It will always be there. The processor is often not the most power-hungry or expensive device. Adding a little by getting a slightly faster Transmeta ensures that you will always be able to use it and there will be no backwards compatability issues.
  • Agreed, and to be more precise, I meant big companies have trouble innovating for various reasons all having to do with their immensity. They get to the point where people are confortable making and following plans and then some risk taker pokes them from outside. The new mobile chips were not a result of someone's bright idea, but a crisis management reaction to the upstart Transmeta's success in winning designs. Someone said, omigod, and threw some engineers in a room to figure it out. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if someone had already figured out how to reduce power and some upper level manager decided against it because it didn't fit into the plan.
  • It truely sounds as if IBM and Intel were making love in the same bed. Transmeta stated that it would ship Mobile Linux with its own systems, and the fact that Linus is employed there really makes it seem as if their first priority is Linux, although this is probably not true (a key priority at most).

    Just keep in mine the relationship between MSFT and Intel. Now picture them in a little street gang that is waiting to initiate big blue into their posie. Transmeta is just becoming a victim of MSFT's "class bully" tactics. I just hope they can hang on.

    Who knows? Remember that "AMD to acquire Transmeta" thingy?
  • OK, so when PIII runs slow it runs low power.

    But what's the real average power consumption for the average websurfing user of the 2 chips?
    Anyone in a position to test them.

  • by Urban Existentialist ( 307726 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @09:45AM (#469608) Homepage
    Although Intel have an impressive grip on the processor market, I am tempted to buy shares at this news. You see, the foolish reactionary types who make buy/sell decisions at the major brokers will doubtless make a kneejerk reaction and announce Transmeta dead. However, I think that the future is still bright for Trandmeta. The market for these types of chips is growing hugely, and Transmeta have a head start. There is no reason why they shouldn't be able to improve what they have above and beyond what Intel have, especially considering that Intels engineering department appears to be run by the marketing department. We have seen the consequences of this with the P4.

    Also, as Transmeta reduce feature sizes, they should be able to break into the embedded market at some stage over the next few years. I fear for Intels future, in this regard.

    Transmeta have a bright future, despite this news.

    You know exactly what to do-
    Your kiss, your fingers on my thigh-

  • I guess iNTel is the only one who hires smart kids... Not.
  • It's been rumored for a while that Intel was pulling back its efforts in number crunching power and focusing more on low power consumption and portability. It started when they discontinued SMP in the Pentium IV. Now it looks like they really are shifting to embedded systems.
  • I think the argument is the reverse of what your saying: Crusoe's power consumption isn't revolutionary since a 700 Mhz Crusoe roughly equals the performance of 300 MHz PIII.

    This shows the benefits of competition working in a market driven society: Transmeta forced Intel to offer a low-power chip, which they really had no reason to do until now. Of course, Intel's offering will basically demolish Transmeta b/c OEM sol'ns for PIII are off-the-shelf simple, not to mention a barrage of other concerns (reliability, market proven, brand equity...)

  • To get below 1 watt, they have to drop the speed of a PIII to just 300 MHz.

    Well, keep in mind that this is very possibly about the same performance as the Crusoe will end up being in real applications.


  • by the_tsi ( 19767 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @09:47AM (#469617)
    Even though this means they're about to get hosed off the face of the planet, Transmeta has had a significant effect on the mobile processor market... While AMD has shaken up the "inexpensive desktop market" enough over the past several years and managed to force Intel to drop their prices and to continue to push the Celeron line, no one really took on their mobile processors. Transmeta, by getting a couple OEM contracts and producing some damn spiffy chips, have gotten enough momentum to make Intel drop their prices, power consumption and the like. Even if Transmeta isn't around in a year, their influence on Intel will be... people won't pay the 4x premium anymore for notebooks that run at 1/4 the speed of their desktop.

    ...More Powerful than Otto Preminger...
  • by Pulzar ( 81031 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @10:04AM (#469618)
    You'd think that they already knew that lowering the clock speed lowers the power consuption. I guess they didn't believe the "science mumbo-jumbo" until they built a chip and tried it out.

    "Oh, look, the smaller feature size also made the chip smaller! Damn those mathematicians, they were right again!"
  • So glad to see people justifying the existance of ACs like this. Ahhhh... anonymity. :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @10:06AM (#469621) Homepage

    Transmeta should be able to improve on their initial products as well. We're used to this kind of one-upmanship with AMD, I see no reason why Transmeta can't do the same thing.

    But aside from that, I doubt that Transmeta's entire business plan is based on low-power. The strength of their technology is flexibility. It would be cool, for example, if they could produce a laptop version of AMD's 64-bit chip, or Itanium for that matter without a major re-design. While Intel needs years to ramp up a new, expensive hardware architecture, Transmeta can copy it in a few months cheaply.

  • by Crspe ( 307319 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @10:10AM (#469624)
    Sure, I have bought one - using it right now. Works fine - so much fun watching the frame rate increase in geiss visualisation as the morph engine re-optimizes.
    As for whether this is the end of Transmeta, I guess it depends what they do with their product line from here - The concept is really great, and should allow transmeta to bring out improved models fairly quickly. The question is ... will they?
    I think that is what will define whether Transmeta survives or not.
  • Actually I don't think Copper is the critical factor. While the highest speed Althons I think the 1.1GHz and 1.2GHz are made with Copper in Dresden only, I believe the rest including the 1GHz and the non-Thunderbird 1GHz are at least sometimes made with Aluminium. Copper is probably most helpful at the extremes of clockspeed and power consumption, but it isn't why the P-III can't get beyond 1GHz without reducing the die size.
  • why do people keep gunning for Transmeta to go into the embedded market? why do you want antiquated x86-based chips in the embedded market anyhow?

    I don't want a x86 in my embedded product, but lots of people who design them do. Either because lots of tools work with x86s, or it is easy to find people who can do x86 code, or x86 drivers exist for devices they want, or because that is what their boss wants.

    Transmeta shouldn't argue with those suckers, it should take their money.

  • From the article:
    "To cut power consumption, Intel essentially took advantage of certain characteristics it discovered
    after the chips came out."
    Haven't you always suspected they designed things this way?
    [Spokesdroid]: "This is our new beta^H^H^H^Hhigh-performance chipset..."

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes

"Oh what wouldn't I give to be spat at in the face..." -- a prisoner in "Life of Brian"