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Transistor leakage is becoming an increasing problem as semiconductor technology scales to smaller dimensions. Industry experts have called transistor leakage one of the fundamental challenges to Moore’s Law of technology scaling. Leakage problems are expected to get progressively worse as the industry scales to 90nm and 65nm transistors. Leakage power could easily dominate total chip power and prevent low power standby operation if not controlled.

Transmeta Corporation demonstrated during the launch of its new Efficeon processor a new solution to the semiconductor industry’s growing problem of transistor leakage. The new technology, called LongRun2™, provides for software controlled leakage management. LongRun2 technology will be deployed in future versions of Transmeta’s Efficeon processor announced yesterday.

Transmeta's first generation LongRun power management technology was introduced in January 2000, and was the first technology in the industry to adjust MHz and voltage dynamically, hundreds of times per second, to reduce power consumption. Transmeta’s second generation LongRun2 technology extends this approach further to include dynamic adjustments of transistor leakage under software control. Software control is important in order to adjust leakage due to changes in runtime conditions, such as voltage and temperature, that are not predetermined when the chip is manufactured.

Transmeta’s new LongRun2 technology is able to control transistor leakage through software while a chip is running. Transmeta’s LongRun2 software works to control leakage as an interdisciplinary solution in combination with special circuits in the Efficeon processor, and with a standard CMOS process. During the demonstration at the Microprocessor Forum conference, Transmeta showed the Efficeon processor adjusting leakage up to hundreds of times per second while playing a video game, playing a DVD movie and going into standby. In standby mode, Efficeon core leakage power was reduced by approximately 70 times by using LongRun2 technology, according to Transmeta.

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