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  Transmeta's Crusoe, HotRod or Performance Hog? 
  May 11, 2001, 06:00am EDT 


By: Sander Sassen

Transmeta's Crusoe processor sets new standards for processor design and in software translation of instruction sets. We have yet to see the implications of this approach for the computer industry, but they are likely to become apparent over the next several years. The technology is scalable and not limited to low-power designs or to x86-compatible processors. However, due to its architecture it may not offer the same level of performance as any given processor of similar clockspeed and configuration.

Performance can vary greatly between programs, depending on whether its speed of execution relies on rerunning a section of code a large number of times. The Code Morphing software is designed to optimize instructions that recur, allowing execution to be optimized after each iteration. It does offer a great basis for running multiple processor platforms on a single processor core.

When notebooks incorporating Transmeta's Crusoe processor become available, don't expect all of your programs to work faster over time; some code is not too well suited for optimization, after all, and other code is already heavily optimized. Just keep in mind that Transmeta's Crusoe processor emulates another processor's instruction set, and we've yet to come across an emulator that outperforms the original. Although marketing slogans and product presentations might have got you thinking otherwise, in reality you will always lose performance if something isn't programmed natively.

1. Introduction
2. Code Morphing
3. Execution, Decoding, Scheduling
4. Caching and Optimization
5. Power Management
6. Conclusion

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