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NatSemi says Transmeta, Intel no threat to Geode

Geode gets everywhere at show

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CeBIT 2000 A senior executive at National Semiconductor has told The Register that the firm believes it can stay ahead of Transmeta's Crusoe technology and continue to make big design wins for its Geode, x86 compliant, technology. Jurgen Heldt, marketing director of National Semiconductor Europe, said that since Geode's launch last year, his company had made large design wins, the most significant being Microsoft and Ericsson, announced this week at CeBIT. Sources said that the company is set to announce further big OEM design wins in the next few weeks. NatSemi is designing several flavours of the Geode, aimed at different markets, including a version for Deutsche Bank (in a DM50 million deal), Heldt said. Other recent wins include deals with IBM for its thin clients, and with Compaq. Heldt questioned Transmeta's software-driven approach to CPU architecture: "We ourselves tried to emulate code in the past, but you burn performance. We did with our 3200, which was able to run x86 code, but it impacted performance by 40 per cent. Transmeta says its performance hit will be between 20 and 40 per cent." Unlike Transmeta technology, the Geode had sound power management abilities, he said. "In our process and architecture we still think we're ahead of them. On the system level, we burn 10 per cent less power on a chip that doesn't yet even exist." Intel's Timna technology would not impact the Geode platform, Heldt claimed. He said that there were "something like" 23 other functions built in to the chip, as well as x86 emulation, none of which would be easy for Intel to emulate with the Timna. There were several technology demonstrations on NatSemi's stand in Hall 13. Vtech, a Hong Kong based company, showed two email terminals which, apparently, use a RISC based Geode. There was also a section of the stand demonstrating Sensil GSM mobile technology, which appeared to use a tiny embedded Geode microprocessor. NatSemi also demonstrated a Bluetooth videoconferencing solution based on two small Sony notebooks which included tiny cameras built into the machines. However, a staffer at the stand pointed out, the problem with Bluetooth was not the technology but the lack of infrastructure. The telcos and the consumers would have to subsidise this in the initial stages, he predicted. Slim Web Pads using Geode technology from Samsung, Acer, Vestel and other manufacturers were also on display at NatSemi's stand, while the Ericsson HS 210 Web Pad and phone held pride of place. NatSemi was also showing its iDVD on a chip solution, while other executives revealed that Japan was likely to be the first to market with products that had Bluetooth technology built into mainboards. Web Pads from the different manufacturers cost under $1,000 for consumers, according to Heldt. He predicted that price would start to fall steeply as the technology proliferated. ® CeBIT 2000: Full Coverage

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