RealTime IT News

For Transmeta, 'Thin' is In

Chipmaker Transmeta Wednesday said it has expanded its relationship with Hewlett-Packard to put its "Crusoe" processors in more devices.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's TM5800 "Crusoe" processors are already found in HP's Tablet PCs as well as several "thin and light" notebooks and embedded environments from other vendors. The new deal will put the low-power chip in the HP Compaq Thin Client t5700.

A thin client is a network computer without a hard disk drive, whereas a fat client includes a disk drive. Many companies like Sun Microsystems are using the units as network computers to serve as the clients for client/server architectures.

"From an architectural standpoint, it is very similar to a notebook or a desktop without a fan," Transmeta Director of Marketing Michael DeNeffe told internetnews.com. "What we've done is to replace transistors with software and allow for better performance while taking up less power."

With up to 512 MB of DDR SDRAM, HP says the t5700 can handle multimedia and legacy support to fit into any environment. The PCI slot capability gives customers a broader selection of options than PCMCIA cards and the client comes with Microsoft Windows XP Embedded operating.

Transmeta says the key to the Crusoe's success is its Code Morphing software. Co-designed by Linux guru Linus Torvalds, the chip is designed to translate x86 instructions into VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) instructions for the underlying hardware engine. The software sits in flash ROM and is the first application to launch when the Crusoe processor is powered up. After it is initialized, other system software components such as the BIOS and operating system are loaded in traditional fashion.

The company said it is continuing to look at other areas to place its processors in other areas as well.

"We're looking at future product potential," DeNeffe said. "The processor is flexible and we're looking at either increasing the speed or reducing the power."

Transmeta is also developing its next-generation processor -- TM8000 or Astro -- for use in a gamut of devices ranging from ultra-light notebooks to high-density blade servers.