Transmeta goes for compact computing with new Crusoe chips

Designed to bring high performance processing to applications within small and thermally constrained environments, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Transmeta Corp. introduced two additions to its Crusoe line of chips Monday — the TM5700 and TM5900.

The new processors offer up to 1GHz of clock speed and measure 21 millimetres by 21 millimetres, making them ideal for use in blade servers, thin clients, printers, copiers, point-of-sale terminals and set-top boxes, the company said.

The Crusoe TM5700 and 5900 are 50 per cent smaller than Transmeta’s Crusoe notebook processor, the TM5800, and allow system designers to get the same high performance and low-heat characteristics in smaller form factor fanless devices, the company’s CEO Dr. Matthew R. Perry said in a statement.

While both the 5700 and 5900 chips are capable of 1GHz clock speeds and come with a 64-bit double data rate (DDR) synchronous dynamic RAM (SDRAM) memory controller and a 32-bit PCI controller, the 5900 processor offers higher performance with 512KB of Level 2 cache. The 5700 offers up 256KB of Level 2 cache.

Due in production this month, Transmeta said a small form factor Mini-ITX motherboard evaluation/reference platform based on the TM5900 will be available during Q1 of this year.

So far, Transmeta has garnered support for its new small form factor offerings from some big names in the industry including Microsoft Corp., Linux-based system software maker MontaVista Software, and thin-client maker WYSE Technology.

Still, one industry expert is not fully convinced.

“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.”

– With files from IDG News Service

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