Transmeta chips to run Linux, Windows, attack Intel x86
Ditzel blabs immediately pre-launch, reckons Intel chips 'rudimentary'
Just hours before the big gig where Transmeta's super-secret was due to be revealed, company CEO Dave Ditzel blew it by spilling his guts to Dow Jones Newswires. We shouldn't be too hard on the lad, as spinmeisters and top flight execs alike generally melt when confronted by the Mighty Dow, but even so - Transmeta was supposed to be the big secret, and it's a bit careless of the boss to spoil the party. But it's happened now. There are two chips initially, the 400MHz 3120, aimed at appliances running Linux, among other things, and the 5400, running at 700MHz and aimed at Windows portables. Casually describing Intel chips as rather rudimentary, Ditzel confirmed that Transmeta's Crusoe family of chips is being fabbed by IBM, and will be aimed at the x86 mobile computer market. This incidentally proves the sensation-mongers who read and understood Transmeta's patent applications right when they disbelieved the spin - there, Transmeta said x86 was only used as an example, and the technique could be used for any chip, but we knew what the company really meant all along, didn't we? The company showed several demo systems powered by Crusoe chips. Windows is the OS where the obvious immediate money is, but it's worth noting that Ditzel says Transmeta is going into mobile Internet computers, which may mean he's looking at form factors where other operating systems are appropriate. Register thought: Transmeta's hardware is fairly OS-agnostic, Linus Torvalds reckons that Linux should now be aimed for growth in the non-PC appliance and device markets, and Linus Torvalds works for Transmeta. So go figure, if you hadn't clocked the significance of the 400MHz low power appliance chip already. As Ditzel told Dow (confirming the patent-based extrapolations you may have noted round these parts), Crusoe uses "code-morphing" to translate OS instructions into native code, so its simpler to run Windows, Linux or Java, and the chip itself is easier to build and therefore cheaper. Power demands are also lower, hence making it more appropriate for mobile computers. The 3120 is in production now, while the 5400 is to be fabbed in 0.18 micron for mid-year. Oh, and here's a couple of prize Ditzelisms before they call us off (remember who it was blabbed to Dow). Says Dow: "Ditzel, a former top chip architect at Sun Microsystems and one of the principal creators of the 1980s chip architecture known as 'reduced instruction set computing,' [don't mail us, we know about the guy at IBM, and - argh! - Elbrus] tried hard to keep the company secret since he formed it with eight other computer gurus in 1995." Right. But who blabbed to Dow? And what did he tell them? "I think if we didn't have Linus, we could have pulled off the secrecy," said Ditzel." Oh, right... ® Transmeta launch coverage A Linux, Transmeta Web-enabled Diamond Rio for CeBIT? Transmeta could face Intel legal challenge No home for Rambus at Transmeta Transmeta OS tweaking auction Transmeta chips to run Linux, Windows, attack Intel x86