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Transmeta Shrinks Speedy Efficeon

By Michael Singer (Send Email)
Posted Jun 4, 2004


Transmeta demonstrated its new Efficeon TM8620 processor this week and said it is sampling the low-power chip with customers right now. The company this week demoed what will be its last 0.13-micro processor running at 1.6GHz for ultra-thin notebooks and handhelds.

The Santa Clara, Calif., chipmaker had promised to move its Efficeon mobile processor from 0.13-micron to 90-nanometer (nm) process manufacturing later this year, but the company and its fabrication partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. are having one last 0.13-micron fling.

The new Efficeon TM8620 has the same combined CPU and Northbridge functionality as the original TM8600, but in a 46-percent-smaller package. The goal is to give thin-and-light notebook and small-form-factor PC designers more room to maneuver by shrinking the chip from 29mm-by-29mm to 21mm-by-21mm.

"Architecturally, there may be incidental changes necessary, such as resistors and so on, but they are compatible with current TM8600 systems," John Heinlein, Transmeta director of strategic partner initiatives, told internetnews.com. "Our launch cycle for certain customers with 0.13-micron has now pushed out with the next round of Efficeon because the 90-nm production is ramping up."

Scheduled for volume production in mid-2004, Transmeta said the TM8620 has the same 256-bit Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) engine with x86 Code Morphing software as previous Transmeta processors, along with 192K of Level 1 and 1MB of Level 2 cache and an integrated DDR memory controller, AGP graphics interface, and HyperTransport I/O bus controller. The x86 compatible chip also comes with support for MMX, SSE and SSE2 instructions and will include No Execute (NX-bit) antivirus technology.

The company demonstrated a 1.6GHz version of the TM8620 at the Computex tradeshow in Taipei, Taiwan. When it debuts, the new Efficeon will be available at various speeds running in increments between 900MHz to 1.6GHz. The chip will also be the first to carry Transmeta's LongRun2 power and thermal management technology. The second-generation chip improves dynamic control over power and thermal consumption based on workload demands.

Transmeta also said it has inked a deal with ULi Electronics to produce a new Southbridge connector as a compliment to the smaller 23mm by 23mm Efficeon package. ULi said the new bridge is now in production use with Transmeta's Efficeon for future products from Sharp, HP, and others.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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