Transmeta Intros Crusoe ProcessorJanuary 20, 2000 by Jeff Shepard
Transmeta Corp. (Santa Clara, CA) recently introduced the Crusoe Processor family for mobile computing, including the TM5400 and TM3120. The devices will be part of a family of very-long-instruction-word (VLIW) processors that allows 128-bit wide commands to be sent to the processor, twice as wide as Intel's 64-bit chip. The processors are also software based and Dave Ditzel, Transmeta CEO, claimed that this allows them use between 1.2 and 1.65W of power, compared to about 7W for comparable Intel Pentium III processors.According to Transmeta, traditional processors regulate power consumption by rapidly alternating between running the processor at full speed and (in effect) turning the processor off. The Crusoe family is designed to adjust its power consumption without turning itself off; instead it adjusts its clock frequency. According to the company, software can continuously monitor the demands on the processor and dynamically pick just the right clock speed needed to run the application.In addition, the Crusoe processor has Code Morphing software that can adjust the processor's voltage. This technology is designed to translate x86 instructions into software that runs on Crusoe and extends the battery life of Crusoe-based products.According to Transmeta, the Crusoe processor has a voltage range of 1.1V to 1.7V and requires a voltage regulator module (VRM). The TM3120 is designed to run from 333MHz to 400MHz and is equipped with a 96K-byte cache. The TM5400 runs from 500MHz to 700Mhz and is equipped with 128K-byte L1 cache and 256K-byte L2 cache.According to the company, the TM3120 is designed for thin devices like Web Pads, which run a mobile version of Linux, while the TM5400 is designed for a yet-to-be-developed generation of long-life sub-notebook computers running Microsoft Windows and NT operating systems."We reinvented the microprocessor," said Doug Laird, Transmeta's vice president of product development. Ditzel went on to add, "We think it will enable a new class of full-day battery-life systems."Pricing for the TM3120 333MHz will be $65 and $89 for the 400MHz. Pricing for the TM5400 500Mhz will be $119 and $329 for the 700MHz.