EETimes has published a report
regarding Transmeta's recent showing of new versions of its Crusoe processor, fabricated on a 0.13 micron (130nm) die process. The new Crusoe will be produced by TSMC, as Transmeta has left its old partner, IBM.
At 0.13um, the Crusoe's biggest advantage is its price and low power consumption. The Crusoe features roughly one quarter the number of transistors present on a Pentium III, making it much cheaper to produce, and giving it a much lower level of power consumption. Furthermore, the Crusoe features on-die memory controllers, which reduces the overall cost of designs significantly.
Transmeta's latest chips, with frequencies ranging from 667 MHz to 800 MHz, look to keep pace with Intel's offerings on the clock speed and power consumption fronts.
"We'll get about a 40 to 50 percent performance boost with the process shrink," said Ed McKernan, vice president of marketing for Transmeta. "One hundred percent of our output will be 0.13 micron by July, whereas it typically takes Intel about a year to transition. And for the first half of next year we're looking to up the Crusoe to 1 GHz."
Unfortunately, even at 1 GHz, the performance of Transmeta's unique design may still be below levels at which it can be considered a viable alternative to the mobile Athlon 4, and Tualatin Pentium III in particular. Since its introduction, the Crusoe has secured a few design wins, but in most cases, has been passed over for a higher performing Intel or AMD solution.
The Crusoe is perhaps more suited to smaller appliances, rather than notebooks. The Crusoe's low power consumption would make it an ideal companion for high-powered Pocket-PCs, and devices of that nature, where Intel and AMD designs are too high-powered, and not necessary. In any event, it will be interesting to see how far Transmeta is able to take the new Crusoe.
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