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Transmeta Closing Up Shop 413

Posted by Zonk
from the fair-thee-well dept.
Ashutosh Lotlikar wrote to mention an article on the Business 2.0 site stating that chip producer Transmeta is going out of business. From the article: "The company's Crusoe family of microprocessors promised lower power consumption and heat generation, enabling the creation of laptops with longer battery life. Critics bashed the chips for being underpowered compared with Intel's latest and greatest. Transmeta struggled to find a market, and recently it sold off most of its chipmaking business for $15 million to Culturecom Holdings, a Hong Kong company better known for publishing comic books."
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Transmeta Closing Up Shop

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  • instruction set (Score:5, Interesting)

    by morcheeba (260908) * on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:52PM (#12732090) Journal
    I wonder what would have happened if Transmeta had released the instruction set for the native VLIW instruction-set processor [wikipedia.org] that runs the x86 emulation layer. Sure, it's probably very hard to code for, but may have offered a tremendous advantage for some applications.

    Also, hopefully OQO [oqo.com] and others have a backup plan so this doesn't put a kink in the handheld pc market.
  • Code Morphing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SlashdotOgre (739181) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:58PM (#12732117) Journal
    If Transmeta does close shop, I hope they consider opening up their "Code Morphing Software". It's an interesting approach to X86 processing on non-X86 processors, for more info check here: http://www.transmeta.com/crusoe/codemorphing.html [transmeta.com]
  • Tablet PCs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alaren (682568) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:00PM (#12732130)

    While I know Transmeta did a lot of work on portable processors for a variety of devices, it seems to me that I first started hearing "Transmeta" a lot when Microsoft made their (most recent) push for Tablet PCs.

    I wonder how much the lackluster appeal of these devices contributed to Transmeta's downfall... or if they just never stood a chance against Intel. Anyone have more numbers on this? Tablets aren't mentioned in the article...

  • Shame (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maelstrom (638) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:01PM (#12732136) Homepage Journal
    I was just wondering what will become of their code morphing technology especially in light of the rumors of Apple potentially going to X86. Could be interesting if Apple had a chip that could do X86 and PPC at near full native.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:13PM (#12732185)
    Critics bashed the chips for being underpowered compared with Intel's latest and greatest.

    These sound like the same guys who insist Apple is going broke every quarter since '91, can only survive by going x86, etc.

    Does the tech industry have more trouble than most w/ utterly clueless people who set themselves up as experts? John Dvorak is still getting published and invited to conferences; so-called analysts make silly statements, Wall Street listens, and everybody (but the analyst) suffers. Crusoe probably got "reviewed" by some moron who gave it a bad rating because it runs at less MHz than the IT guys told him his laptop does.

    Transmeta had some good ideas, too.
  • by mikael (484) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:48PM (#12732390)
    It's an interesting thought ...

    Intel optimised the performance of Just-In-Time compiling for Java straight to x86 assembly language. And at the same time, Intel also designed the Pentium processors to convert x86 instructions into internal processor instructions. What if Java were compiled directly into internal processor instructions?
  • by DoktorFuture (466015) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @10:11PM (#12732488) Homepage
    Everyone who has a vested interest in maintaining the 'status quo' will try their darndest to repress, discredit, and sink anything that threatens them, regardless of the benefit to the average citizen.

    The inverse is also true: the more a new technology benefits the average citizen, the more opposition it will encounter.

    Of course, this only serves to tell the enlightened among us what to check out and buy. If there's lots of people talking trash, there's more often something to it than not.

    People hate change.
  • Re:BS. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by csnydermvpsoft (596111) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @10:52PM (#12732698) Homepage
    When they came out, they definitely had the best MIPS/Watt for x86-compatible chips. I bought a Crusoe-powered laptop back in 2002 (Fujitsu P-series). It routinely got over 10 hours of battery life with the screen at full brightness and over 20 with the screen closed listening to MP3's. With the original batteries, it still gets 6-7 hours with the screen, and 15ish with it closed. It also doesn't get uncomfortably hot, and also has builtin wifi drawing power.

    I've never seen an Intel-powered laptop that could come close to that. Granted, it is a dog (and was even then), but a similar Intel-powered notebook draws more power. If you were to scale-back Intel's current offerings to match the speed of my laptop, they'd probably beat it in MIPS/Watt. However, at the time there was nothing comparable.

    If nothing else, Transmeta will have prodded Intel and AMD to make more power-efficient chips.
  • by xtal (49134) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @11:48PM (#12732948)
    FWIW; I'm an embedded firmware and hardware developer amoung other things, and HAVE worked with their hardware:

    I evaluated transmeta's chips in 2003, I think.. it was for a target product that needed a low power consumption. When we got their development kit and the heatsink was huge, I knew they were in trouble. I KNEW they were in trouble when we tried to return the multi-thousand-dollar kit to look at some other options they had.. and they wouldn't listen.

    If you're working in the embedded world, you're probably in a well defined area:

    - Low power, low speed micros. These are usually under 20mhz, sometimes faster. Cost a couple bucks and have everything under the sun integrated. Some have micro RTOS's developed for them, most don't. This market is mature and owned by people like Atmel, Microchip, Zilog, and a hoarde of other people making variants of chips like the 8051. Transmeta didn't stand a chance there. Those chips consume almost no power at all and cost nothing.

    - Midrange micros for pdas and other appliances. This is where I thought transmeta had a chance, but then along came Intel with the XScale architecture and they made it work and work very well. This, not the pentium M, is what killed them I think. XScale is cheap, well supported, and very low power.

    - Above-midrange; Transmeta might have had a shot here, but their power consumption and support was much worse than the x86 compatible Nat Semi Geode (now owned by AMD?), and offerings from Via (C3 MiniITX). Price? No competition.

    - Notebooks. Pentium M ended this one. So did the G4 chip from Motorola.

    - Desktop high end CPUS. Nobody ever expected them to be competitive.

    Looking back, it seems like their market ran away from them whereever they looked. Unfortunate, but not unforseeable IMO.
  • The Curse of VLIW? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ignorant_coward (883188) on Monday June 06, 2005 @12:36AM (#12733161)

    Sun's MAJC: dual core VLIW FP monster...gone
    Transmeta: also VLIW...going
    Intel: Itanium VLIW FP monster...stagnant once HP's base converts from PA-RISC and Alpha

    It seems that no VLIW architecture to date has really been successful against PowerPC, SPARC, and AMD64. Is it the compilers? Too nontraditional?

  • by Atomic Frog (28268) on Monday June 06, 2005 @01:46AM (#12733428)
    Let's see, since I actually worked at Transmeta up until about 2 months ago and I still know the guys who work there, I'm pretty confident in saying that they are NOT out of business!

    As far as I know, they are still churning out silicon. I don't know where Business 2.0 gets this trash.

    BTW, their chips are pretty competitive now. It's a bit late, but you never know.
  • Re:BS. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ady1 (873490) on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:33AM (#12733579)
    its really sad to see a company fall which took an alternative approach to processing. Hope that their technology don't get forgotton.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 06, 2005 @09:20AM (#12735092)
    I work for one of the world's largest manufacturers of computers, and I remember hearing several rumors that we had a Crusoe-based laptop ready to go, but that Intel "suggested" they might have "production issues supplying us with mobo chipsets" to support our Intel-based models if we sold Transmeta gear.

    Perhaps this is illegal, unethical, or immoral. Perhaps it never even happened, but the truth is that it's very hard to challenge major players when you are starting from scratch.

    I'm posting anonymously for obvious reasons, especially since I'm spreading ugly rumors I have no way verifying.

  • by one$less (889793) on Monday June 06, 2005 @11:23AM (#12736398)
    (Now I see why Rob Malda says slashdot could be dying. A swamp of americans shouting, screaming and spitting without knowing what's going on. Americans. Heh.)

    Culturecom truely is a company most known for its comics business. But it has deep pockets, and is also known to buy this and that business, extract the most money out of it within 1 yr or 2, then leave users dying in the cold. Its 'chinese2000' is one of the best known "Linux distribution" in Hong Kong, and one of the ugliest.

    - First version is an incomplete rip of redhat. What is incomplete? Even trademarks / logos are not completely replaced! Redhat sued it later and it has to pay lots of money.
    - Next version is another rip, seemingly from (at that time called) mandrake. Between these 2 versions, their bundled office are not compatible!
    - No more. No 3rd version. Users either accept the fact that there is no security update, or just format it.

    And one of the saddest is that, it hired one of the oldest and most respected open source pioneer in China, yet didn't produce anything really useful.

    There are still good companies in Hong Kong, but not this one.

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