Transmeta Hopes to Trump Intel on Security

Crusoe processors get wireless technology; Intel rolls out notebook chips.

Users of mobile technologies will see greater security and speed in their devices thanks to innovations from chip makers Transmeta Corp. and Intel Corp.

Transmeta announced last week that it is building wireless security technology into its Crusoe TM5800 processor and future chips. The Santa Clara, Calif., companys cool-running, energy-efficient Crusoe chips are found in such devices as Hewlett-Packard Co.s Compaq Tablet PC TC1000 and several of RLX Technologies Inc.s ultradense servers.

The new chips will enable users to store sensitive data, such as digital certificates and authentication keys, on the chips in an area that hackers wont be able to access, according to Transmeta officials.

The technology includes a hardware acceleration engine for such encryption algorithms as DES (Data Encryption Standard), DES-X and Triple DES. The architecture will be able to adapt to future industry standards, such as Advanced Encryption Standard, officials said.

Transmeta officials said the company expects to ship chips with the security features in the second half of the year. The features will be part of the upcoming Astro chip, a notebook processor built using a new architecture that the company said will be more energy- efficient than the Crusoe line and help Transmeta move up the notebook chain into products with 12- and 14-inch screens.

With its more flexible architecture, Transmeta has been able to jump ahead of Intel in building such security features into chips, said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc., in San Jose, Calif.

"Its that flexibility that is allowing this to happen, as opposed to only the technology itself," Enderle said.

Intel, also of Santa Clara, in September an-nounced its LaGrande Technology security strat- egy, which it will integrate into future processors. However, LaGrande and Microsoft Corp.s own security strategy architecture, called Palladium, dovetail, and now it seems that neither will appear until later in the year, Enderle said.

In the meantime, Transmeta will have a head start in an industry—and a country—that is clamoring for security, Enderle said. "This gives Transmeta life when otherwise we might be asking what theyre still doing around here," he said.

For its part, Intel last week rolled out six notebook processors—including a 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M and a 2GHz Celeron.

The other processors include three Ultra Low Voltage Pentium III-M chips, designed primarily for ultralight notebooks and Tablet PCs. They run at 800MHz to 933MHz. Intel also unveiled a low-voltage 866MHz Celeron.

Intel also announced an integrated graphics chip set for its mobile PC group, the 852GM. When combined with Intels mobile Pentium 4 or Celeron processors, the new chip set offers double-data-rate 266/200MHz memory capability and a 400MHz system bus, according to Intel.