Transmeta hunts for life in small devices

Thin and quiet

Transmeta keeps plodding along with the release of two new processors for small form-factor PCs and other computing devices such as cash registers.

The Crusoe TM5700 and TM5900 chips are Transmeta's latest effort to make the most out of its low power consumption processor designs. The company hopes to extend its presence beyond laptops and Tablet PC types of computers to new markets where it might actually be able to give larger rivals a bit more competition. The chips go on sale later this month and are aimed at a host of devices, including PCs, portable devices, smart displays, point-of-sale terminals and copiers.

The TM5700 ships with 256Kbyte of L2 cache, while its big brother the TM5900 ships with 512Kbyte of L2 cache. Both chips take up but 21mm by 21mm of space and include an integrated Northbridge. Transmeta reckons the chips will come out running close to 1GHz.

One longtime Transmeta watcher is bullish on the new chips. Chris Hipp, co-founder of blade server maker RLX Technologies, paved the way for Transmeta's use in servers, opening a new but small market for the company, and thinks the new line of processors could help Transmeta establish a foothold in a fresh set of markets once again.

"By reducing the footprint and decreasing power yet again, they're making a very strong case for this chip to become the defacto standard for fanless PC's and embedded systems like cash registers and ATMs," Hipp said. " Intel just doesn't get it, nor do they have an answer."

As is the case with any Transmeta endeavor, the company is searching for OEMs to back up its low power premise. HP has picked Transmeta for its thin client terminals, which is nice a vote of confidence, but a few more OEMs will be needed to generate serious cash.

We'd like to tell you more about the new chips but after a rather curt exchange with Transmeta's PR staff, we are still left waiting for extra details. The company does not appear quite as hungry as it once was. ®