Transmeta Unveils Smaller Efficeon Chip

At half the size of the current Efficeon, the processor is aimed at smaller form factors, embedded devices and thin, light notebooks.

Transmeta is coming out with a new version of its Efficeon processor later this summer that—at 48 percent smaller than the current chip—is targeted at smaller form factors, embedded devices and thin, light notebooks.

Transmeta Corp. unveiled the Efficeon TM8620 this week at the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan. Also at the show, the company demonstrated its upcoming Efficeon, built via a 90-nanometer manufacturing process and running at 1.6GHz.

The current chips, built on the 130-nanometer process, top out at 1GHz, said Greg Rose, director of marketing at the Santa Clara, Calif., company.

Rose said Transmetas presence at Computex was its largest at any show, as it continues to grow the Efficeon line.

Efficeon, which began appearing in notebooks earlier this year, took over for Crusoe as Transmetas key technology. The announcements at Computex are also happening in a region that has been particularly friendly to Transmeta chips.

"Its a very, very large presence, showing a commitment to the region and showing all the technological achievements," Rose said.

Like Crusoe, Efficeon is designed for high performance, long battery life and energy efficiency, via technology such as Transmetas code-morphing software that enables it to run Windows and applications designed for Intel-based computers and LongRun 2 power-saving technology.

It also offers high-speed HyperTransport links between the processor and the rest of the computer, and 1MB of Level 2 cache.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about Transmeta targeting the Centrino market with its Efficeon.

The TM8620, with integrated Northbridge functionality, will come in at either 21mm by 21mm or 23mm by 23mm, with both the Northbridge and Southbridge embedded, Rose said. It will run at 900MHz or 1.1GHz.

Transmeta expects Efficeons built via the 90-nm process to become generally available later this year.

Company officials have said they expect Efficeon to find its way into notebooks with 12- to 14-inch screens, enabling Transmeta to branch out beyond the ultrathin laptop space.

The chip has made some inroads—Hewlett-Packard Co., for instance, is using Efficeon processors in its bc1000 PC blade systems—but Transmeta is still waiting for it to gain wider acceptance.

Late last year, Transmeta and thin-client vendor Wyse Technology Inc. entered into a partnership in which the two companies will jointly develop non-PC desktops based on Transmeta processors.

Transmeta has been hampered in part by its own approach to the industry, according to Shane Rau, an analyst at International Data Corp., in Mountain View, Calif.

Transmeta has focused on the mobile market, which put it in direct competition with Intel Corp., and has not looked as hard at other areas—such as blade servers and thin clients—until more recently. Efficeon is a step in trying to broaden its reach, Rau said.

In addition, Transmeta promised so much with Efficeon that many customers stopped buying Crusoe chips in anticipation, dropping the companys shipment numbers last year, he said. Transmeta traditionally had shipped about 100,000 units per quarter, but in the second half of 2003, it saw those numbers drop to about 30,000 in the fourth quarter.

"This is a company that needs to focus and try to compete well with the competition, particularly with Intel," Rau said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms Desktop & Notebook Center at for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.