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Transmeta: 2GHz Efficeon to offer SSE 3 support

Intel rivals gain Prescott New Instructions

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Transmeta will launch an updated version of its 90nm Efficeon TM8800 processor later this year that supports Intel's SSE 3 instructions, the company said yesterday.

AMD's 90nm 64-bit processors are set to support SSE 3 technology, which was introduced in February 2004 with the debut of Intel's 90nm Pentium 4 processor, 'Prescott'.

Transmeta's move to add the extra x86 instructions to its own chips was probably rather easier than it was for AMD. Efficeon essentially emulates the x86 ISA in software coded for its native 256-bit VLIW core. Adding SSE 3 will have simply involved modifying that emulation layer.

Transmeta began shipping the 90nm TM8800 early in September 2004, in limited numbers. The company expects volumes to ramp through the remainder of the year

Fabbed by Fujitsu, the TM8800 currently clocks at up to 1.6GHz and includes an integrated 400MHz DDR SDRAM memory controller, HyperTransport bus (400MHz) manager and AGP 4x bus controller. It sports 1MB of L2 cache, and support Intel's MMX and SSE 2 multimedia instruction sets. It consumes 3W of power at 1GHz.

The TM8800 also supports Windows XP Service Pack 2's 'no execute' technology - Transmeta calls it 'AntiVirusNX' - which prevents apps executing from memory set for data storage.

Transmeta is known to be preparing an updated TM8800 capable of running at up to 2GHz, but in the past it said this part would ship in 2005. However, the part is expected to sample this quarter, and it's likely that it will be this 2GHz version that provides SSE 3 support. ®

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