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Ex-Soviets seek $$$ for Merced-killer – Transmeta linked?

Poverty-stricken boffins at Elbrus need $40 million to crush Intel. Give generously?

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Russian microprocessor design company Elbrus International today announced details of E2k, a CPU it claims will run three to five times faster than Merced - and there may, or may not, be a Transmeta connection.

Elbrus is the cash-strapped spin-off of the Soviet military and space supercomputer programmes, and the fact that today's press release is tagged on the web site as "Investor Teaser for Elbrus" makes it fairly clear that we're not at prototyping stage yet. Nor are we going to get there unless some Western money goes into the project.

The possible Transmeta connection comes via Transmeta founder Dave Ditzel, who had dealing with Elbrus while working for Sun a few years back. Elbrus is said to have solicited support from Sun, IBM and HP in the past, but without success. Elbrus also has considerable experience of code morphing, another Transmeta-type issue.

E2k, says Elbrus, will use an explicitly parallel instruction set and is based on an architecture which "has been continually refined by the Elbrus team since 1985," when the team's first explicitly parallel computer, Elbrus III, was launched. E2k will use a binary compilation procedure in order to run x86 programs, and is the subject of 70 US patent applications. E2k is intended to achieve 135 SPECint95 at 1.2 GHz fabbed in 0.18 micron, and to take up less than a half the die size of a Merced at 0.18 micron. Elbrus is looking for funding of $40 million to take the project forward. ®

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