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Transmeta pledges 'no execute' security support

Efficeon to handle WinXP SP2 security system

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Transmeta today claimed that its Efficeon chip will be the first "energy-efficient" processor to support the oft-touted 'no execute' NX instruction required by Windows XP Service Pack 2's anti-virus sub-system.

So it either missed AMD's low-power Athlon 64 launch t'other week, or it doesn't believe that the mobile 64-bit CPUs are energy-efficient.

AMD's 64-bit processors have supported NX since launch. Intel's Itanium chips support the feature, too, as will future 64-bit Pentium and Xeon processors, the chip giant revealed last week - though Intel is calling it 'XD' rather than NX.

Transmeta's support for NX will come mid-2004 when it launches "new Efficeon processors scheduled to ship in mid-year 2004". The current version, the 130nm TM8600, was launched last October. A 90nm version of the part - the TM8800 - is due during the second half of the year. It's not clear whether Transmeta's statement that it will support NX with a revised 130nm part or today's statement marks a narrowing of the TM8800's launch window.

Either way, adding NX will allow Windows XP SP2 to prevent viruses and worms from executing code stored in areas memory marked for data rather than executables.

Of course, doing so is relatively easy for Transmeta, which simply needs to tweak its Code Morphing software to add NX support. Code Morphing translates inbound x86 instructions into the Efficeon's native Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) instructions at run-time.

Transmeta is this month providing Microsoft with advance versions of Efficeon-based systems with NX support for internal evaluation and use, the chip maker said. ®

Related stories

Transmeta sales rise as Efficeon interest grows
Transmeta's 90nm Efficeon to sample January '04
Transmeta plots Efficeon roadmap to 2GHz
AMD delivers on low-power Athlon 64 pledge
Microsoft irks ISVs with XP SP2 delay

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