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Transmeta TM8000 to bring AGP, HT, DDR buses on die

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Transmeta has posted details of its next-generation Crusoe processor, the TM8000, codenamed Astro.

The new chip features upgrades to Transmeta's LongRun power-saving technology and its Code Morphing x86 compatibility software, but that's only to be expected. More interesting is a revised architecture allows the TM8000 to execute up to eight instructions per clock, like IBM's upcoming PowerPC 970. The TM8000 sports a 256-bit VLIW engine.

The TM8000 will sport three on-chip bus controllers: AGP, DDR 400 and HyperTransport. The latter is clocked at 400MHz. The AGP bus operates at 4x speed. Essentially, then, it integrates its North Bridge onto the die.

Transmeta hopes this level of integration will appeal to a wider array of notebook makers, something it desperately needs to boost sales and achieve profitability. Its most recently completed quarter, Q4 2002, saw Transmeta post a loss of $21.7 million on sales of $6.1 million.

It's undoubtedly no coincidence that Transmeta has chosen to release these snippets of information in the week Intel will launch its Centrino mobile-oriented processor platform. Centrino represents the latest stage in Intel's bid to beat Transmeta on performance and power conservation. Whatever the merits of Transmeta's chip, it's going to have a tough time overtaking the Intel juggernaut.

The TM8000 isn't due to go into volume production until Q3, fabbed by Taiwan Semiconductor using a 0.13 micron process. The TM8000 is set to sport a unique brand to differentiate it from its Crusoe-branded predecessors.

Clock speeds for the part have yet to be announced, but since the TM5800 maxes out at 1GHz, the TM8000 is almost certainly clcoked higher than that.

The chip also supports the Flash-friendly Low Pin Count (LPC) bus - again an attempt to drive the TM8000 into new mobile applications. ®

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