Transmetas Low-Power Chip: Efficeon

Transmeta hopes its new chip will take on Intel and AMD in notebooks, tablets and PDAs while its Crusoe processor digs into the embedded market.

Transmeta Corp. is giving its forthcoming energy-efficient processor, which until now has been known as Astro, the brand name Efficeon.

The chip, also known as the TM8000 processor, will begin shipping in the third quarter, and Transmeta officials will unveil many of the speeds and feeds at Octobers Microprocessor Forum, according to Mike DeNeffe, marketing director for the Santa Clara, Calif., company.

Transmeta has lofty ambitions for the new chip, which officials expect will boost application performance by 50 percent to 80 percent over the companys current Crusoe chips and improve energy consumption and power saving. The company intends the chip to compete with Intel Corp.s Centrino mobile computing platform as well as mobile offerings from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.; earlier this month, AMD announced it is buying the unit of National Semiconductor Corp.that makes the Geode chip family for such products as thin clients and blade servers.

Transmetas Crusoe family of chips, which tops out at 1GHz with the TM5800, has seen its greatest adoption overseas, although Hewlett-Packard Co. is using the chip in its Compaq Tablet PC TC1000, and RLX Technologies Inc. offers some blade servers powered by Crusoe.

However, DeNeffe said he expects that once Efficeon hits the market, it will take over as Transmetas primary offering in such mobile products as notebooks, tablet PCs and handheld devices, while the Crusoe chips will find their way into the companys line of embedded offerings. In January, Transmeta announced it was getting into the embedded space with a new line of Crusoe SE chips for such devices as cash registers and industrial and medical equipment.

Efficeon chips will start shipping to OEMs in the third quarter, DeNeffe said, adding that he expects products featuring the chip to begin appearing before the holiday season in the fourth quarter.

The new brand name is designed to highlight Transmetas "efficient computing" push, which focuses on such features as low power consumption, high performance and energy conservation.

"Weve been talking about efficient computing now for nine months," DeNeffe said. The Crusoe chips enabled Transmeta to get a foothold in the mobile-computing space, he said. Efficeon "will get us more into the mainstream solutions."