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"Smart Processors from Transmeta"
  02/15/2000

Transmeta Corporation has ended four and a half years of secrecy with the introduction of Crusoe, a group of so called smart microprocessors. Named after the fictional character Robinson Crusoe, they are designed to create a new category of mobile computing devices. The Crusoe processor family is based upon a unique architecture called Code Morphing software. Code Morphing software surrounds a silicon engine to deliver a fully PC compatible processor. It is this software that provides the compatibility by translating instructions (or "morphing") to the underlying hardware engine. Crusoe hopes to deliver on the consumer need for mobile devices such as ultra-light PCs.

Mobile PC's, operating with the standard Windows operating system and Microsoft Office applications, can take advantage of the Crusoe processor's low power. It is being estimated that the power savings should be enough to allow an average user to operate on a single battery for up to a full workday without recharge.

Crusoe-based Internet devices such as Web pads and mobile clients can take advantage of the Linux operating system to create a very economical machine. Although they will be economically sound, they will handle all the required Internet plug-in applications. In addition, Linux offers an additional advantage in that it is an operating system that can be stored in Flash ROM thus removing the need for an expensive hard disk drive.

In a departure from traditional microprocessor design, Transmeta made innovative use of software to implement many functions that had previously been implemented in hardware. This approach gives Crusoe both the high performance and low power required for today's demanding mobile computing environment.

Crusoe is a smart processor that "learns" about an application while it runs and uses that experience to greatly extend battery life. Using a new Transmeta invention called LongRun power management, Crusoe continuously adjusts its operating speed and voltage to exactly match the needs of the application workload. LongRun can make adjustments hundreds of times per second, which can dramatically extend battery life. This is in contrast to other processors that run at a fixed operating speed, needlessly wasting battery life.

LongRun also provides a solution for today's strenuous multimedia applications that typically drain an ultra-light PC's battery in as little as an hour. With LongRun, it is possible to design a lightweight mobile PC that plays a DVD movie for three hours or more.

The Crusoe processor family consists of two solutions, the TM5400 and the TM3120, for the Mobile Internet Computing market. The model TM5400 is targeted at ultra-light mobile PC's running Microsoft Windows and NT operating systems. These PC's will take advantage of the TM5400's high performance and LongRun power management to create the longest running mobile PCs for office applications, multimedia games and DVD movies.

The TM3120, operating at up to 400MHz, is designed for economical Web pads and mobile clients. With the Crusoe processor and the Linux operating system, users can expect a complete Internet experience, including access to the full range of plug-in applications. Transmeta is also providing assistance to OEM's (Original Equipment Manufacturers) looking to accelerate their time to market with new mobile Internet devices.

  - by Clayton Crooks

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  comp.arch.embedded
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  alt.os.linux