Transmeta introduces small form-factor microprocessor

Transmeta Corp. announced Monday that it was launching two new Crusoe processors, 50 percent smaller than previous Crusoe products, aimed at mobile and embedded-computing product developers.

The Crusoe TM5700 and TM5900 microprocessors offer up to 1GHz of clock speed and are available in a 21 millimeter by 21 millimeter package, Transmeta said. This is 50 percent smaller than the Crusoe notebook chip, the TM5800, and retains the same low heat dissipation characteristics, Transmeta said. The company hopes the small size will be useful in STBs (set-top boxes), thin clients, blade servers, portable consumer products and other small, fanless products where size and heat issues are important, it said.

Like earlier Crusoe processors, the new versions offer an integrated Northbridge. A Northbridge communicates with the computer processor using the FSB (frontside bus) and controls interaction with memory, the PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) bus, Level 2 cache, and AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port).

The new processors offer 1GHz of x86-compatible performance, equivalent to the fastest TM5800 version now available; integer and floating-point execution units; separate 64K byte instruction and data caches; a 512K byte (for the TM5900) or 256K byte (for the TM5700) L2 write-back cache; a 64-bit DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) memory controller; and a 32-bit PCI controller, Transmeta said.

"Transmeta has run into customer concerns over performance with the TM5800, for example in Hewlett-Packard (Co.)'s TC100 tablet. Users expect more performance than Transmeta has been able to deliver," said Peter Kastner, executive vice president and chief research officer with the Aberdeen Group in Boston. Kastner had not been briefed about the new, embedded version of the Crusoe processor but said the power of the processors to date "have not been good enough for many of today's applications."

A motherboard evaluation/reference platform, based on the TM5900 processor, will be available in the first quarter of the year, Transmeta said. It will include schematics, design guides, processor specifications and device drivers needed to evaluate products designs.

Transmeta was not immediately available to comment on prices.

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