Crusoe Finds Way Into Smart Displays

Microsoft qualifies Transmeta's processor for use in "Mira" smart displays.

Transmeta Corp. will announce Tuesday that Microsoft Corp. has qualified the Crusoe TM5800 processor for use in the "Mira" smart displays, which began shipping in February.

Microsoft qualified the TM5800 at speeds of 800MHz up to 1GHz for use in the smart displays, according to Mike DeNeffe, director of marketing at Transmeta. The qualification will allow Transmeta to move further into embedded systems.

"This is a big deal for us for a number of reasons," DeNeffe said. "One, we have a deep relationship level with Microsoft. Another one is that weve collaborated with them on the Tablet PC. [Also], this is indicative of our strategy, and our product line for embedded systems."

A smart display requires a PC running Windows XP to operate and monopolizes the PC while it runs. A Tablet PC serves as a stand-alone computer.

If Transmeta can push the Crusoe into both smart displays and the Tablet PC, the feat will be proof that the market sees the Crusoe both as an embedded and as a general-purpose CPU. Over time, Intel Corp.s Pentium series and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s K6 processors have been forced out of general-purpose PCs and notebooks and into the engines driving embedded devices. But the Crusoe still powers several Japanese ultralight notebooks.

Viewsonics airpanel 100 smart display, on the other hand, uses a 206MHz Intel StrongARM. The Crusoe will likely compete against Intels newer XScale embedded processor for design wins, DeNeffe said.

Over time, DeNeffe said he envisions smart display makers enhancing the product with new features, to turn it into a wireless "thin client" for the enterprise. Today, the smart display cant even do basic tasks like play a DVD wirelessly over the network from the host PC. However, the Crusoe has enough computing power to drive Microsofts Windows Media 9 codec with hardware assistance, he added.

"My take is that smart displays got out of the gate pretty slowly," DeNeffe said. "We need to get together with all the [contract manufacturers] in Taiwan and get them to listen to what were hearing in the enterprise space and hook them up with the OEMs in the thin client space."

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