Transmeta flirting with AMD and 1GHz

Summary:The hard-charging chip maker is close to a deal with AMD ... and the 1GHz speed barrier. Should Intel be worried?

As the old saying goes, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Transmeta Corp. are about to announce a relationship.

The chip makers are expected to soon announce the scope of cooperation, according to AMD chairman and CEO Jerry Sanders. However, Sanders remained mum on the details.

Sources say the two companies might swap patents in a manner similar to AMD's past patent-swapping deal with Motorola Inc.

Transmeta is particularly interested in AMD's Lightning Data Transfer technology, sources said.

LDT is a high-speed processor interconnect technology created to be AMD's new bus technology. It provides up to a 20-fold increase in bandwidth and will be used for input/output, co-processing and multi-processing functions. LDT will see use later this year in forthcoming chip sets for Athlon processors.

It's unclear when the deal will be announced, but Sanders indicated, after an interview with ZDNet News, that it would be soon.

It has been a busy second quarter for Transmeta. The once-secretive chip maker announced plans on Thursday to go public.

Earlier in the week Transmeta CEO David Dietzel revealed details on the company's latest Crusoe processor for notebook PCs, the TM5600, running at speeds of up to 800MHz. A follow-on to the TM5600, the TM5800, will reach gigahertz speeds in the first half of next year.

The company also recently landed a licensing deal with Sony Corp.

Sony will use a Crusoe chip in its forthcoming VAIO C-1 notebook, due later in the year. Sony also plans to use AMD chips.

But that's not all Transmeta has up its sleeve.

The company, according to its S-1 filing with the United States Securities Exchange Commission, has also established close relationships with IBM and Toshiba

That Transmeta is working with IBM (ibm) is no secret. IBM's Microelectronics division is currently manufacturing Transmeta's Crusoe chips.

However, IBM also licensed Transmeta's chip technology in December 1997, and Toshiba followed suit in February 1998.

Initially, the agreements gave IBM and Toshiba the ability to manufacture x86-compatible chips using technology acquired from Transmeta.

"Under these agreements, we received license fees, access to technology, engineering and test services, mask sets and wafer and other production services and granted IBM and Toshiba rights to manufacture and market x86-compatible products incorporating the licensed technology," the S-1 form stated.

Transmeta, however, reacquired those rights it granted to IBM and Toshiba for cash and stock.

"(Now) IBM and Toshiba retain a license to manufacture, market and sell non-x86 compatible products incorporating the licensed technology," the S-1 form states. "We are not entitled to any future license fees under these license agreements, and we do not expect to receive license revenue from any other party."

As the old saying goes, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Transmeta Corp. are about to announce a relationship.

The chip makers are expected to soon announce the scope of cooperation, according to AMD chairman and CEO Jerry Sanders. However, Sanders remained mum on the details.

Sources say the two companies might swap patents in a manner similar to AMD's past patent-swapping deal with Motorola Inc.

Transmeta is particularly interested in AMD's Lightning Data Transfer technology, sources said.

LDT is a high-speed processor interconnect technology created to be AMD's new bus technology. It provides up to a 20-fold increase in bandwidth and will be used for input/output, co-processing and multi-processing functions. LDT will see use later this year in forthcoming chip sets for Athlon processors.

It's unclear when the deal will be announced, but Sanders indicated, after an interview with ZDNet News, that it would be soon.

It has been a busy second quarter for Transmeta. The once-secretive chip maker announced plans on Thursday to go public.

Earlier in the week Transmeta CEO David Dietzel revealed details on the company's latest Crusoe processor for notebook PCs, the TM5600, running at speeds of up to 800MHz. A follow-on to the TM5600, the TM5800, will reach gigahertz speeds in the first half of next year.

The company also recently landed a licensing deal with Sony Corp.

Sony will use a Crusoe chip in its forthcoming VAIO C-1 notebook, due later in the year. Sony also plans to use AMD chips.

But that's not all Transmeta has up its sleeve.

The company, according to its S-1 filing with the United States Securities Exchange Commission, has also established close relationships with IBM and Toshiba

That Transmeta is working with IBM (ibm) is no secret. IBM's Microelectronics division is currently manufacturing Transmeta's Crusoe chips.

However, IBM also licensed Transmeta's chip technology in December 1997, and Toshiba followed suit in February 1998.

Initially, the agreements gave IBM and Toshiba the ability to manufacture x86-compatible chips using technology acquired from Transmeta.

"Under these agreements, we received license fees, access to technology, engineering and test services, mask sets and wafer and other production services and granted IBM and Toshiba rights to manufacture and market x86-compatible products incorporating the licensed technology," the S-1 form stated.

Transmeta, however, reacquired those rights it granted to IBM and Toshiba for cash and stock.

"(Now) IBM and Toshiba retain a license to manufacture, market and sell non-x86 compatible products incorporating the licensed technology," the S-1 form states. "We are not entitled to any future license fees under these license agreements, and we do not expect to receive license revenue from any other party."

Transmeta isn't standing still on the chip front, either. The company began sampling the new TM5600 chip last May.

"The TM5600 is similar to the TM5400, but has an increased Level 2 cache of 512KB (versus the TM5400's 256KB). The increased Level 2 cache improves the performance and reduces the power consumption of the TM5600 relative to the TM5400. The TM5600 is produced using .18 micron CMOS technology," the S-1 form states.

The TM5600 also boosts clock speeds, according to the documents. The new chip will range from 600MHz to 800MHz, whereas the TM5400 ranged from 500MHz to 700MHz.

But more details from the S-1 filing indicate that Transmeta has no plans to stop at 800MHz. Its TM5800 chip, due in the first half of next year, will hit speeds of 1GHz (1,000MHz).

"As yields improve and customer performance demands increase, we expect to introduce the TM5800 Crusoe microprocessor. We expect that this microprocessor may have increased Level 2 cache of up to 1MB, and use more advanced semiconductor technology, moving to a .13 micron CMOS technology as soon as it is available during 2001," the S-1 form says.

The TM5800 will allow Transmeta to catch up with rival Intel Corp., which will hit 1GHz in the first half of the year with its mobile Pentium III.

AMD (amd) should also be at or near 1GHz around the same time. It will begin shipping mobile Athlon chips this fall.

When it comes to the Internet appliance market, Transmeta is moving its TM3000 series chip technology toward lower power and lower cost.

The current TM3200 chip, running at 400MHz, offers a built-in Northbridge, which includes the memory and PCI controller.

"For the TM3300 and TM3400 microprocessor, we have redesigned the parts to move from a .22 micron technology into a .18 micron CMOS technology. We expect these products to be available in the first half of 2001. We expect this technology shrink to improve operating frequency, reduce power consumption and reduce costs," the S-1 form states.

Transmeta officials declined to comment for this story, citing the company's IPO quiet period.

Transmeta isn't standing still on the chip front, either. The company began sampling the new TM5600 chip last May.

"The TM5600 is similar to the TM5400, but has an increased Level 2 cache of 512KB (versus the TM5400's 256KB). The increased Level 2 cache improves the performance and reduces the power consumption of the TM5600 relative to the TM5400. The TM5600 is produced using .18 micron CMOS technology," the S-1 form states.

The TM5600 also boosts clock speeds, according to the documents. The new chip will range from 600MHz to 800MHz, whereas the TM5400 ranged from 500MHz to 700MHz.

But more details from the S-1 filing indicate that Transmeta has no plans to stop at 800MHz. Its TM5800 chip, due in the first half of next year, will hit speeds of 1GHz (1,000MHz).

"As yields improve and customer performance demands increase, we expect to introduce the TM5800 Crusoe microprocessor. We expect that this microprocessor may have increased Level 2 cache of up to 1MB, and use more advanced semiconductor technology, moving to a .13 micron CMOS technology as soon as it is available during 2001," the S-1 form says.

The TM5800 will allow Transmeta to catch up with rival Intel Corp., which will hit 1GHz in the first half of the year with its mobile Pentium III.

AMD (amd) should also be at or near 1GHz around the same time. It will begin shipping mobile Athlon chips this fall.

When it comes to the Internet appliance market, Transmeta is moving its TM3000 series chip technology toward lower power and lower cost.

The current TM3200 chip, running at 400MHz, offers a built-in Northbridge, which includes the memory and PCI controller.

"For the TM3300 and TM3400 microprocessor, we have redesigned the parts to move from a .22 micron technology into a .18 micron CMOS technology. We expect these products to be available in the first half of 2001. We expect this technology shrink to improve operating frequency, reduce power consumption and reduce costs," the S-1 form states.

Transmeta officials declined to comment for this story, citing the company's IPO quiet period.

Topics: IBM, Hardware, Processors, Toshiba

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