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NVIDIA Designs GPU For Transmeta

Hoping to get its new chips into more mainstream systems, Transmeta Wednesday said it has inked a deal with graphics chip maker NVIDIA .

The two Santa Clara-based companies said they have worked for two years to develop NVIDIA's C8000 companion chip for Transmeta's next generation TM8000 or Efficeon processor. The chip, which is in due out later this quarter, is expected to find its way into a wide range of mobile PC platforms as well as tablet PCs, ultra-personal computers, silent desktops, blade servers and embedded systems.

NVIDIA was light on the details but daid the new graphics chip includes its Southbridge functionality, support for Hypertransport and an integrated AGP interface for high performance graphics.

"Our collaboration with Transmeta enables a new class of ultra portable mobile computer," NVIDIA president and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said in a statement. "As the mobile computer increasingly becomes the primary computing device for many people, the demand for smaller form factor, low power solutions becomes apparent. By closely collaborating with Transmeta, our combined technologies are enabling computer makers to deliver an outstanding multimedia experience in stunningly small, low power devices."

The TM8000 is being produced as an x86-compatible 256-bit VLIW version processor with eight 32-bit instructions executed per clock. Transmeta's fab-less partner TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is in final production with the 0.13-micron process processor. The latest conversations with company execs pointed to the TM8000 as clocking at 1GHz.

The chip includes integrated Northbridge core-logic technology, which connects the CPU to the system memory and the AGP and PCI buses. The three new high performance bus interfaces include an on-chip 400 MHz HyperTransport bus interface, a technology taken straight out of AMD's design playbook as well as Double Date Rate 400 (DDR-400) DRAM memory interface; and AGP-4X graphics interface all on the same die. Previous versions of Transmeta chips took the PCI graphics approach.

Transmeta said the majority of the $24.6 million the company has spent in the last six months on research and development has been poured into the Efficeon. The company said the payoff will come when it goes toe-to-toe with its most obvious competition: Intel and its XScale processors as well as its Centrino chipsets.