Transmetas Efficeon Chip Makes U.S. Laptop Debut

Transmeta Corp.'s Efficeon processor is making its U.S. notebook debut in Sharp Systems of America's new Actius MM20.

Transmeta Corp.s Efficeon processor is making its U.S. notebook debut in Sharp Systems of Americas new Actius MM20.

The ultrathin MM20 is an upgrade of the Huntington Beach, Calif., companys MM10, which is powered by Transmetas older Crusoe processor.

"This is certainly the first foray [for Efficeon] into what I think is our stronghold, the very light notebooks," said John Heinlein, director of strategic partnership initiatives for Transmeta.

Transmeta, of Santa Clara, Calif., unveiled Efficeon in October. Company officials have touted the chips improved performance—from 50 percent to 80 percent better than Crusoes—and improved energy consumption and power savings. Officials expect Efficeon will enable the company to move up the ladder from the ultrathin laptops into more mainstream notebook systems, enabling it to compete against Intel Corp.s Centrino platform and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s mobile offerings.


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for a review of the Actius MM20.

Efficeon also has taken over as Transmetas primary offering in the mobile products space. The Crusoe family of chips, which tops out at 1GHz with the TM5800, is finding its way into the companys line of embedded offerings.

Transmeta also is gearing up for its upcoming move to the 90-nanometer manufacturing process. Heinlein said the company will soon send samples of its 90-nanometer chips to its leading customers, with full production coming in the fall.

Sharps 2-pound MM20—announced in Japan in December—comes with a 1GHz Efficeon chip, which will mean that the notebook will be able to process up to the twice the number of instructions per clock cycle than the MM10, Sharp officials said. In addition, the notebook offers a standard battery life of 3 hours and up to 9 hours with an extended battery.

Other improvements to the notebook, which is available immediately starting at $1,499, include adding twice the amount of memory and an ATI Technologies Inc. Mobility Radeon video controller with 16MB of dedicated video memory.

Though the Sharp notebook is the first of its kind to use Efficeon in the U.S. market, the chip has had some success in other areas. Hewlett-Packard Co. is planning to use the chip in its PC blade offering, called the Consolidated Client Infrastructure, and officials at thin-client vendor Wyse Technology Inc. in December said the company will use an alliance with Transmeta to expand its offerings, also possibly into the PC blade arena.