Transmeta to fly with Astro chip

Transmeta, which has suffered through a difficult year and a half, is gearing up for a comeback with Astro, a newly designed microprocessor due out in 2003. Astro, which is being shown off for the first time in a hotel suite at the Bellagio Hotel during Comdex Fall 2002, is the company's second-generation Crusoe processor, an energy-efficient chip for notebooks. It will consume less power than the company's first Crusoe chips, the TM 5000 series, but offer substantially more performance, said Chief Technical Officer David Ditzel.

"The TM 5000 was designed in my basement," he said. "We looked at what we did right and what we did wrong and figured out how to do it all over."

The chip differs from its predecessors in that it can issue eight instructions per clock cycle. Current Transmeta chips, and other competing chips, issue only four instructions per cycle, the company said. As a result, more work can be accomplished per clock cycle. Increasing the work per clock cycle also lowers energy consumption, which increases battery power.

Astro will come out toward the middle of 2003 and be manufactured on the 130-nanometer process. Officially, it will kick off the TM 8000 family of Crusoe chips. Additionally, Astro is fairly small, which means that the chip will likely cost little to produce, an important factor in the current notebook environment. Although notebook sales continue to grow, more manufacturers are touting sub-$1,000 PCs, a price that requires an inexpensive processor.

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News source: ZDnet

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