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Transmeta, a designer of low-power microprocessors that are not available widely nowadays, said it finally began to ship its first 90nm commercial chips that feature higher performance, lower power consumption compared to predecessors as well as a feature that enhances security.

“Earlier this month Transmeta began limited production shipments of its second generation Efficeon family of processors, the TM8800 series,” the company said in its statement.

1.60GHz Now, Higher Speeds – in Future

Transmeta’s highly-acclaimed Efficeon processor delivered in mid-October 2003 after some delays is a 256-bit VLIW chip that integrates DDR SDRAM memory and AGP controllers as well as 512KB or 1MB L2 cache depending on its version. It uses special code-morph software to run conventional x86 applications and supports widely-used instruction sets, such as MMX, SSE and SSE2. The Efficeon utilizes 400MHz HyperTransport bus to connect I/O processors.

The Efficeon microprocessors produced using 90nm process technology feature some more functionality amid lower power consumption and higher performance compared to the first incarnation Efficeon and older-generation Crusoe processors. Particularly, the new Efficeon sport LongRun2 technology for optimized power consumption as well as AntiVirusNX Technology, a security feature that protects certain system memory data regions from insertion and execution of potentially harmful code, that is also referred as NX-bit or eXecute Disable (XD) and works only in conjunction with Windows XP operating systems that feature Service Pack 2.

The Efficeon TM8800 is manufactured using the 90nm CMOS process technology at Fujitsu Electronics Devices Group Akiruno Advanced Technology Center near Tokyo, Japan. The initial 90nm TM8800 chips feature a maximum clock speed of up to 1.60GHz, but higher speed-bins, such as 2.0GHz, are expected to be sampled by the end of 2004.

Santa Clara, California-based Transmeta did not specify power consumption figures of the Efficeon TM8800 chip.

Still Limited Availability?

Systems based on the 90nm Efficeon TM8800 processor will begin shipping this month, starting with a new notebook computer from Sharp Corporation that was introduced on September 9th, 2004, in Japan. The recently announced Orion Multisystems Cluster Workstation will also use the new 90nm Efficeon TM8800 when the system begins shipping later this year.

Transmeta received the first samples of the Efficeon TM8800 in early 2004 and showcased the functional 1.60GHz processor at Computex Taipei 2004 show. Still, so far Transmeta only plans to supply the new chip to a couple of PC makers. It is unclear whether rather rare availability of Transmeta’s new products is conditioned by low chip yields, the number of processors that correspond to production quality, or by the lack of demand from makers of notebooks.

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