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A Peep From Transmeta And Toshiba (And RLX)

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the wait-are-they-still-secret? dept.

Transmeta 80

irix writes: "C|Net is reporting that Toshiba will ship a mini-notebook May 18th in Japan, coming to the U.S. later this year. The article also has some information about upcoming Transmeta CPUs." Hints and promises from Transmeta are that the next generation Crusoe will be smaller (half the size of current ones), faster (up to 800MHz) and consume less power (not quantified). U.S. notebook makers still seem reluctant to use them though -- so if Americans want a Crusoe in anything but a Sony Picturebook before the end of the year, we may have to watch dynamism.com and similar places. Update: 05/07 09:37 PM by T : OS24Ever also writes: "Linuxgram has an article about scooping RLX Technologies announcment of their new System 324 Web Server. At its optimum, the product will hold 336 Web servers running Linux or Windows (Windows costs $200 more). The Transmeta chip runs 80% cooler with 80% less power requirements, eliminating a lot of heat and need for fans, bringing single point of failure in the machine down to near zero."

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Single Point of Failure (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#239902)

no fans, no fans to break, one less point of failure.

Re:Convincing US manufacturers to use TM chips... (2)

rodgerd (402) | more than 13 years ago | (#239903)

Given that no one seems to be interested in using TM's chip so far, there must be valid reasons.

That doen't necessarily mean those reasons have to do with the viability of the technology. It could be that, oh, most laptop companies have desktop divisions and wouldn't want to lose Intel as a supplier (or get a less-sweet deal) as a result of using Crusoe in some of their portable products.

IBM, for example, couldn't get its stor straight when announcing it was dropping Crusoe - the answer varied according to who you asked.

Re:Not what Transmeta's employees are saying (2)

spot (3593) | more than 13 years ago | (#239904)

110M plus shares leave lock-out, but volume is only 30M, so the insiders in fact have decided to hold onto almost all their stock in a risky startup in unstable financial times. If that doesn't indicate fanatical enthusiasm by the insiders i don't know what does. Only an idiot wouldn't diversify.

In light of the Toshiba and RLX/IBM announcements, I would say Transmeta's future is very bright indeed. I would take this opportunity to buy if i hadn't already. It's the last opportunity before the 5800 comes out and things really start smoking (to use a bad metaphor).

Re:Crusoe for servers? (4)

johnnyb (4816) | more than 13 years ago | (#239905)

The interesting thing is that this is exactly what Intel does, too. The only difference is that Crusoe's translations are softcoded, while Intel's are more-or-less hardcoded. Intel chips are actually RISC at the core, with a translation layer between IA32 and whatever they've got underneath. However, I'm willing to bet Intel's RISC machine is optimized directly for IA32 while Crusoe's is probably more general.

Also, it's interesting to note that having the RISC core give the Intel chip a boost, not a setback.

Re:Tablet PC, etc (2)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 13 years ago | (#239906)

Why the hell would you want to use a chip designed for low-power mobile use in a high-power non-mobile environment?!?

It was designed for lower power consumption and heat output. That happens to be very desirable for low-power mobile use, but *gasp* that also doesn't sound like such a bad idea for a web server farm.

If you're running a database server, CPU performance is more of an issue, but a heavily loaded web server is going to top out I/O and network throughput before it does the CPU.

Just because you can put an insanely high power server out there on the web doesn't mean you need to. A friend of mine runs a web hosting service that serves 140 domains and a number of sites hosted off of the main domain. Most of these are art and multimedia sites (what the service caters to) -- not very lightweight. The sole server is a 188 MHz Cyrix 6x86 with 128MB RAM. The loadavg is currently ... 0.08.

Crusoe isn't compute farm material, but peformance doesn't actually SUCK either.

Re:CA blackouts (1)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 13 years ago | (#239907)

Yeah too bad the rest of the country doesn't realize that 99% of the electricity goes to air conditioning and stirring the water around in Beverley Hills swimming pools. These colo centers can't be using that much power, if they can run the whole place off one or, rarely, two deisel generators as backup.

Re:Crusoe for servers? (2)

Stradivarius (7490) | more than 13 years ago | (#239908)

You are right that the "Cope Morphing" does consume some CPU cycles when it's first performed, though it is cached so the performance hit isn't excessive.

One major benefit however is that you drastically reduce the amount of silicon you need to build your chip. In some of the modern CPUs like the PIII, instruction decoding (the very thing Transmeta is doing in their Code Morphing) can take up half your silicon. That's a lot of savings in power, heat dissipation, and cost.

Transmeta took this in one logical direction and created a mobile CPU. This makes sense, and is a good way to get into a market where the competition from Intel/AMD wasn't as formidable. But here's another application: instead of just throwing out that 50% of silicon real estate, put in more integer and floating point units, maybe increase the cache. That 50% will buy you a lot of extra processing power.

Suddenly, they'll have a powerhouse chip that may very well outperform Intel and AMD's offerings at a comparable power/heat/cost. The hardware changes would be relatively simple, and would require modest changes to the Code Morphing software to make use of the extra hardware units. Transmeta could do this without much difficulty.

Will they? Not until they get themselves more firmly established in the mobile market. But once they have the financial muscle to take on Intel/AMD on their home turf, I think they will. The profit margins on desktop/server chips too high to pass up.

Re:Tablet PC, etc (1)

sacherjj (7595) | more than 13 years ago | (#239909)

Anyone know of a good rugged sub-notebook? I like all of the long runtime features, but taking the current sub-notebooks backpacking or bicycle touring an easy way to kill them. Vibration in a bicycle pannier (saddle bag) has killed quite a few laptops, even with decent padding.

I will be riding from Virginia to Oregon in about a year. I'm living "off the grid" mostly (camping, cooking, etc.), so I would have a solar charging setup which charges a 13.2 V (10 or so Ah to charge the sub notebook from), but I don't have any rugged sub-notebook. I would spend $2500 if I knew that it would be a hard kill. But I don't want it to die when I get halfway through my Trans-Am ride.

Anyone know of any good rugged sub-notebooks, or are the newer ones better than previous models?

Re:Crusoe for servers? (1)

buffy (8100) | more than 13 years ago | (#239910)

It all depends on what you want to do. If you want to run a database engine...no...Transmeta-based is not for you. But if you want to load balance a web farm of 48 machines...you simply cannot beat the price, form factor, power draw, or PERFORMANCE PER INCH.

All You Naysayers... (3)

buffy (8100) | more than 13 years ago | (#239911)

I'm as cynical as the next Slashdot'er. However, before you get yourself up in a craze of "less power, why would I want it?" You need to look at this box. It's COOL.

The possibilities of 24 servers in 3U using the power of a typical 1-2U server are incredible.

Get past the idea of using one server per function. You can setup a balanced solution between multiple servers (say 2,4,8,...24!!!) for such redundancy.

Get past the idea of need a super fast processor. For most web serving functions you're much better served by putting lots of smaller servers out there than you are by putting one big server.

Imagine wiring up 48 ports of ethernet with FOUR cables (plus another 24 ethernets coming out of a single RJ45.)

Stop thinking...they're new...I'm too cool for this. It will change they way you approach web architectures...hell other systems infrastructures too.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am an RLX employee. Mid to late 2000, a friend called me to come look at this box. I quit my job and moved to Texas from DC. Don't particularly like much about the area, having lived in an urban location like Georgetown, and moving to a suburban area like the Woodlands, but that didn't matter. I came running.

So, like I said...look at the product. And think.

No I'm not a marketing guy...

I'm in IT--and you think that you're cynical.

Re:Can you imagine...... (2)

Adam Heath (8109) | more than 13 years ago | (#239912)

220 node beowulf setup in under 2 hours.

I talked to the guy after he was done using the hardware. My mouth dropped.

TBH, I am a contractor at RLX, so my opinions may be biased. I also work on the Debian-based default linux stack.

There's just one more thing I will say about this product. -- Bring a clean pair of underwear, because you are going to soil the ones you currently are wearing when you see this thing in action.

But what I really want is a Hitachi Flora 220TX... (2)

Thag (8436) | more than 13 years ago | (#239913)

It's a Transmeta laptop with a CD-ROM and a fullsize screen, in the kind of nice aluminum casing that Panasonic has been using on their M1 laptop (and that Apple has more recently been copying with their titanium laptops). It has a 7 hour battery life, 9 if you replace the drive bay with an additional battery.

Check it out! [transmetazone.com]

Jon

Re:Try again re: Single Point of Failure (1)

Arrgh (9406) | more than 13 years ago | (#239914)

Not really, with typical smp boxes, if a cpu goes bad then your entire machine crashes.

Actually, they're not SMP at all. Crusoe doesn't support SMP. Each "blade" has one CPU, and is a completely independent server.

I don't think the server in question has that capability
Not in and of itself; they're all separate servers. But you could easily dedicate one or more of the "blades" to a load-balancing and/or failover role.

Re:Can you imagine...... (2)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 13 years ago | (#239915)

No need to imagine, my friends. Heard a piece on NPR about RLX technologies. Beowulf clusters are the next phase. They want to sell them to accounting firms and stock market analysts.

I'll dig around NPR and see if I can't find the story.

RLX story - fairly accurate (5)

Ducky (10802) | more than 13 years ago | (#239916)

We've got a beta of the RLX Razor at my work. For a managed services company, this thing is sweet!

For that first slot "control tower" one can do all sorts of nifty things with the other blades from power cycling to bios settings... which inclines me to want to have that first blade not be generally accessable to the outside world. This reduces your available work horses to 23 per 3U density. That's still a rackspace bargain, though!

The hard drives may be a point of contention for some people, but the way I envision these is to boot them via net and have your web cluster get data from network attached storage rather than local. This way you may boot these diskless and reduce the power consumption by about half! A fully populated chassis will then suck less than 200 watts.

All in all, a very tasty product. Can't wait to throw these in our colos =)

IBM Is Going To Resell RLX (2)

verch (12834) | more than 13 years ago | (#239917)

A quick blurb [yahoo.com] on Yahoo news mentions that IBM is going to resell RLX boxes. It also calls RLX a Compaq offshoot, although I'm not sure this is a valid use of the term 'offshoot'.

Re:Try again re: Single Point of Failure (2)

scheme (19778) | more than 13 years ago | (#239918)

If you read the article *cough*, you would see that it's can be up to 336 servers (processors) in a 42U rack. Very redundant. Surely you'd agree that such a setup would eliminate problems with any single processor failing.

Not really, with typical smp boxes, if a cpu goes bad then your entire machine crashes. There's a difference between smp machines and fault tolerant machines. Maybe if those cpus where run in a cluster with the same task and data running on multiple cpus and with invisible failover but I don't think the server in question has that capability.

Re:Try again re: Single Point of Failure (2)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 13 years ago | (#239919)

I think the whole point is that the processor runs fanless. So while there is one processor, and it is one point of failure, under normal circumstances you need both the CPU and the fan to be working or the server dies.

Perhaps more to the point the CPU doesn't have any moving parts. If any one thing is going to be a single point of failure, I'd rather it didn't have any moving parts.

Dave

Re:Crusoe for servers? (2)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 13 years ago | (#239920)

This became a FAQ when the crusoe came out. The official line is there is no such thing as a native instruction set, basically because they want to retain the flexibility to change it between one model and another. Or possibily even just between revisions of processor cores.

It's all quite clever really.

Now, when are they going to write the emulator for PPC? Or Sparc?

Dave

Re:Try again re: Single Point of Failure (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 13 years ago | (#239921)

Actually if you read the article it does sound exactly like the cluster you described, read again.

Re:Not what Transmeta's employees are saying (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 13 years ago | (#239922)

You obviously don't play the market much do you?

Re:Down to picking the very small nits (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 13 years ago | (#239923)

Well of course, I'm just making the point that if it produced no heat it would require no energy, this is of course only theortically possible for quantum type computers for computations while giving no answer. Anyways the entire point was that most if not all of a processors energy use is turned into heat, and therefor a 80% deduction in one should produce an 80% deduction in the other.

Re:Try again re: Single Point of Failure (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 13 years ago | (#239924)

80% less heat and 80% less power (do the two really translate so directly like that?),

Actually yea they kinda do, as a perfect processor that would release absolutly no heat, it would use absolutly no energy though such is basically impossible, it is a thoretic possibility. Of course the monitor and other moving part devices would use energy.

Re:Not what Transmeta's employees are saying (1)

angst_ridden_hipster (23104) | more than 13 years ago | (#239925)

A lot of them voted with their feet when the company "offered" relocation to Houston or else.

Evidently, the promise of Vast Amounts of Money[tm] didn't outweigh the certainty of moving to Houston. Why that's any worse than Dallas is anyone's guess.
bukra fil mish mish
-
Monitor the Web, or Track your site!

Other uses for Crusoe. (2)

Matt2000 (29624) | more than 13 years ago | (#239926)

I think it's a great idea to get those Crusoes into the mass market web server market. Transmeta has been so focused on the highly competitive sub-notebook market that they missed Cobalt [cobalt.com] selling RAQ servers hand over fist at amazing mark ups. Any concerns of power can be removed by noting that this things pack an AMD K6-2 450 and still sell for $1500 - $3600 [cobalt.com] .

If Sun can sell a K6-2 450 at $3600, Transmeta has got to be able to find some room in there for profit.

Re:Not what Transmeta's employees are saying (4)

marxmarv (30295) | more than 13 years ago | (#239927)

Lack of confidence isn't the only reason you sell stock. With the market being such an unstable beast and having bled so much in recent history, maybe employees are getting smart and refusing to believe in the options racket.

-jhp

Re:Try again re: Single Point of Failure (1)

Patrick Lewis (30844) | more than 13 years ago | (#239928)

I agree that the article isn't that clear. But I think that you can imply that it is more a cluster topology than a single machine because:
1) processors ('sticks') are hot swappable "sticks". I don't know of any PeeCee SMP system that can do this. (Could just be my ignorance though).
2) the operating systems used. Last I checked Windows can't handle a 336 node SMP server. (Ok, let's be fair, Linux can't either).

I would be interested in what kind of software they are shipping with it.

Re:Try again re: Single Point of Failure (3)

Patrick Lewis (30844) | more than 13 years ago | (#239929)

If you read the article *cough*, you would see that it's can be up to 336 servers (processors) in a 42U rack. Very redundant. Surely you'd agree that such a setup would eliminate problems with any single processor failing.

Re:Crusoe for servers? (2)

jovlinger (55075) | more than 13 years ago | (#239930)

Actually, for repetetive server tasks, dynamic meta level translation can be just the right thing.

I suspect that an implementation is at least several years off, but it should theoretically be possible to generate specialised execution paths with system calls turned into method calls (because the dynmaic translation software could proove no information would escape the specified code path). Inlining the system method calls, you could then potentially get rid of the copying between user and kernel space... potentially, your application could inline the parts of the kernel, all the way down through the networking stack.

As to whether this is likely to happen... who knows. IIRC cdrom.com maxes out an OC-3 on a dual pentium pro, so perhaps it would be overkill. But theoretically possible nonetheless

Re:Try again re: Single Point of Failure (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#239931)

80% less heat and 80% less power (do the two really translate so directly like that?)

Sure - unless you're pumping lots of power out the pins to drive some high current load then all the power that goes into the chip via its power pins has to come out as something (conservation of energy an all that)

Re:Not what Transmeta's employees are saying (3)

rkent (73434) | more than 13 years ago | (#239932)

Of course some of this selling could be attributed to pressures from other losses to raise capital...

And some of it could be attributed to investors diversifying their portfolios as they haven't been allowed to do for 6 months. It is a good investment idea.

---

Re:Crusoe for servers? (1)

selectspec (74651) | more than 13 years ago | (#239933)

correction i must be on crack. Its NOT an emulation for the MAJORITY of the instruction set, but for a good ammount of the pipeline functionality.

Not what Transmeta's employees are saying (3)

selectspec (74651) | more than 13 years ago | (#239934)

The stock lost 23% today as insiders were released from their 1 year lockup-IPO deal and sold. This story [cnet.com] suggests that Transmeta is not viewed with great enthusiasm by the people on the inside. Of course some of this selling could be attributed to pressures from other losses to raise capital, but you cant read it as good news regardless.

Crusoe for servers? (5)

selectspec (74651) | more than 13 years ago | (#239935)

.

"The flexibility of the software-translation approach comes at a price: the processor has to dedicate some of its cycles to running the Code Morphing software, cycles that a conventional x86 processor could use to execute application code."--Transmeta Crusoe Whitepaper [transmeta.com]

VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) technology employeed by the Crusoe is essentially a software emulation layer for the majority of the CPU instruction set. This means that the "Code Morphing" software that translates instruction sets into VLIW words sucks CPU time. In other words, just because is a 633Mhz CPU, doesnt mean it will perform like a PIII 633Mhz CPU. This sounds like a step in the wrong direction.

Convincing US manufacturers to use TM chips... (1)

tcyun (80828) | more than 13 years ago | (#239936)

With all the problems associated with purchasing electronics from overseas (support, replacement parts, availability), what is the best way to convince the manufacturers to provide Transmeta chips for US devices? Having a handful of hardcore enthusiasts surf the net (to get what is essentially showoff/toy hardware as they could get similar devices in the US) would seem to simply satiate the demand curve of the most vocal and knowledgeable.

What activities would help "the masses" get their hands on the technology? (I have a few ideas, but would be interested in seeing what others think would be effective, particularly if executed en masse).

Re:Convincing US manufacturers to use TM chips... (1)

tcyun (80828) | more than 13 years ago | (#239937)

I have a different question for you: Why do you care? Whether a laptop uses a TM chip or Intel or AMD is totally invisible. The only question is performance versus battery life versus cost.

Good points and my post assumed a few things. First, that the TM chips have a gee-whiz factor that makes them interesting toys. In that they are interesting, it might be nice to expose others to the technology.

Second, I believe (as do many others) that there are uses for a low-power chip. Consumer laptops may not be the ideal market. However, providing these chips to the wider market cuases several things. The first is economies of scale. If a slow laptop were priced competively with the added bonus of battery life or low-heat (assuming that those are valid benefits), maybe people would be interested. Second, is simple exposure- maybe someone will think up a better use than what we see today.

Try again re: Single Point of Failure (4)

fanatic (86657) | more than 13 years ago | (#239938)

he Transmeta chip runs 80% cooler with 80% less power requirements, eliminating a lot of heat and need for fans, bringing single point of failure in the machine down to near zero."

Almost wholly falacious (fellatious?) reasoning. You may think the processor is less likely to fail if it runs cooler, but if there's only one of them, it is still a single point of failure. A single point of failure either is or isn't. It is not "nearly" anything. (If you entirely do away with the need for a fan, it helps some.)

--

What about the graphics? (1)

_ZorKa_ (86716) | more than 13 years ago | (#239939)

Ok, it is real cool that transmeta and toshiba are getting in bed with one another. I want to play Tribes 2 or Quake III on my laptop. Give me that Toshiba/Trasmeta, and you have a paying customer.

Zero failure? (4)

Argy (95352) | more than 13 years ago | (#239940)

"The Transmeta chip runs 80% cooler with 80% less power requirements, eliminating a lot of heat and need for fans, bringing single point of failure in the machine down to near zero."

What kind of pointy-haired boss nonsense is that? By what yardstick of single points of failure has it approached zero, and how close is "near?" What about unplugging it? Bumping the reset switch? Drive failure? Flood? Fire? Or running Windows with IIS?

Okay, it's hard to classify Windows as a mere single point of failure.

Why 324? (4)

jefferson (95937) | more than 13 years ago | (#239941)

Why they then call it a System 324 and not a 336 is a conundrum.
...
The way RLX has managed to tuck 24 servers into a 3U enclosure is to stick them in vertically.

Not that much of a conundrum. A 3U enclosure containing 24 servers.

J.

Re:Try again re: Single Point of Failure (2)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | more than 13 years ago | (#239943)

Not exactly agreeing with you, when I saw that statement about single point of failure right after the statement about the 80% less heat and 80% less power (do the two really translate so directly like that?), I thought that there must be some other points of failure in EACH machine, so just because the CPU is not as likely to fail doesn't mean some other part couldn't be a single point of failure. Of course, if you argue that the single point of failure refers to the whole rack, that's a different story, but from the way it was stated, it seemed to refer to the single machine, and I really don't see how running a cooler server changes single point of failure to NEARLY zero, just as you say.

Maybe people just like to use mission-critical sounding buzzword phrases like "single-point of failure" (or mission-critical, for that matter :)

the japanese page is here . Nice geekette :) (1)

ehack (115197) | more than 13 years ago | (#239944)

http://dynabook.com/pc/catalog/libretto/010507l1/i ndex_j.htm

Re:Crusoe for servers? (1)

Angelo Torres (119850) | more than 13 years ago | (#239945)

As has been mentioned before, this emulation layer has to run somewhere, if not in software, in hardware. The major reason why a Crusoe would run slower than a PIII is that it only has two ALUs and a single FPU. You would not buy this chip to play Quake with.

However, by having the "Code Morphing" technology run as software it allows for more aggressive run-time application tuning since more data can be retained on the given application. What this means is that the clock cycles on the Crusoe should be more efficient than conventional processors since it is executing more thoroughly optimized code.

The really cool possibility that this opens up is dynamically loading/unloading specialized processor code that is tuned to specific applications. That would be cool, l33t, sweet, and bitchin' all rolled into one.

For more info, see Ars-Technica's Crusoe Review [arstechnica.com] .

Re:Can you imagine...... (1)

jallen02 (124384) | more than 13 years ago | (#239946)

You know, some of the time its just not off topic.

Get yourself 84U of rack spacing (expensive)

and you have a 600 node beowulf cluster.

Hello World!

Thats pretty sweet cause realistically 84u for 600 computers isnt shit.

Thats a pretty ontopic post, damn moderators.

Jeremy

Sorry, "Sony Picturebook" not "Sony Powerbook"... (1)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 13 years ago | (#239947)

Was too much into that power/energy fling.

Low Power Displays (4)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 13 years ago | (#239948)

The article [cnet.com] states that the Toshiba will use a polysilicon display, which, according to this article [techreview.com] , is one of the new low-power display technologies that is competing against the new organic displays.

As long as this new laptop does not include CD, floppy, or DVD drives, it should be very power efficient. I wonder what the power bottle kneck for such a laptop is. Does the 10GB harddrive zap too much juice? Or is it the graphics chipset? I bet the speakers are the most energy hungry parts on laptops such as this new Toshiba and the newer Sony Powerbooks.

Re:Crusoe for servers? (1)

Andreas Rueckert (138510) | more than 13 years ago | (#239949)

I could live without the PPC/Sparc software, but what about the Java emulator? Running serverside Java on such a machine would kick ass, methinks...

Re:They're too small! (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 13 years ago | (#239950)

That's right. Osborne 1, baby! Can't get enough of that CP/M and Wordstar.

Re:Importing Japanese notebooks... (1)

shepd (155729) | more than 13 years ago | (#239951)

I dunno...

Japanese keyboard, BIOS, serial numbers and manuals maybe? It would certainly make getting support fun! :-)

Re:Low Power Displays (1)

rneches (160120) | more than 13 years ago | (#239952)

Well, if you really wanted to squeze the life out of your battary, you could replace the hard drive with a flash disk, like the ones M Systems [m-sys.com] builds. Just stick some extra RAM in there and use RAMfs for your /proc /var and /tmp filesystems, so you don't kill your FlashDisk too quick.

--

Re:Low Power Displays (1)

rneches (160120) | more than 13 years ago | (#239953)

Uh, yea. That's what I was thinking. You're right, of course.

--

CA blackouts (2)

rneches (160120) | more than 13 years ago | (#239954)

One of the neater ideas for using Crusoe processors would be to put them in servers (or, at least in servers where CPU performace isn't absolutely critical) that have to be up 24-7. If people are going to (wrongly) blame the power crisis in Califonia on technology companies and servers running all the time, the industry could at least take something positive from this and deploy less power-hungry servers.

For a web site that needs high bandwith but has uneven bandwith requirements (ie - gets a big rush in the middle of the day), you could configure a load balancer to point to Transmetta powered servers when the load was light, and allow the bigger UtraSparc or Xeon servers to go into standby mode. When the hits start to exceed te capacity of the Transmetta servers, the load balacer could wake up the bigger iron to handle the heavier load. No loss of capacity or increase in latency (well, not much, anyway), and dramatically reduced power consumption.

I can't imagine I'm the first person to think of this...

--

Re:Crusoe for servers? (4)

rneches (160120) | more than 13 years ago | (#239955)

Well, I don't know if it's exactly in the wrong direction. It might be a step in an odd direction, but I think there's some wisdom to it if you consider how they intend their CPU's to be used. Transmeta doesn't want to build the fastest chip, or the most powerful chip. If they tried that, they would be stupid - Intel would grind them into the dust. Intel has money to burn on maufacturing technology and speed tweaking thier designs. Speed and power are brut force engineering problems, to some extent - if you're willing to spend more money than the other guy, you can build a faster CPU than they can. Intel (and, to a lesser extent, AMD) can amorize their costs over zillions of units, so Transmeta has no hope whatsoever of winning in a contest based mainly on capital expenditures. So, they have to be clever, and go somewhere where they can actually make a better product than Intel for a given purpose.

Since there is no real point in Transmeta going after Intel and AMD (at least not this year), they have instead elected to do something rather clever, and go after a market that Intel and AMD aren't serving very well - the mobile market.

By sacrificing a little performace, Crusoe chips could potentially bring some truely spectacular battary life to portable computers - and with lower power consumption, you can have smaller battaries, which are lighter... et cetera. And for mobile applications, you really don't need a powerful CPU - I've been using my Dell Latitude with a 366 MHz processor as my Linux workstation, and I have yet to encouter a situation when I really needed even that much power. I'd much rather it be smaller and lighter and last longer than be more powerfull. Don't get me wrong - power is good, but there are other parts of the equation that decide what a CPU is good for. Intel and AMD are going after a different part of the curve than Transmeta. That very fact shows that Transmeta has, at the very least, a compotent management team. Their success, should they find any, will show whether or not they are more than just compotent.

--

Missing the point (2)

sjbe (173966) | more than 13 years ago | (#239956)

Raw speed, measured in MHz or any other way, of the Crusoe processor is NOT the interesting thing about. Low power consumption isn't terribly interesting either actually, though it is a nice side benefit.

The interesting thing about Crusoe processors is that the raw hardware is abstracted from the instruction set.

Why is this important? Instruction sets are really an abstraction themselves. They are what allow us to not have to program in binary. Problem is that until Crusoe, they were always hardware. Wanted some features the instruction set didn't provide? Build a new chip at a cost of billions of dollars. Want to port your software to a different architecture? Better be careful whate instruction set features you depend on. Or instead you can buy a Crusoe processor and it's simply a software update.

But it gets better. With a Crusoe chip, any CPU can be emulated. Want your machine to be a MIPS today and an UltraSparc tomarrow and a Pentium the day after? It's possible, if perhaps not incredibly practical. (though it would be great for testing software on multiple systems without having to buy multiple systems)

Additionally the underlying hardware can be optimized for the real tasks being undertaken without requiring a redesign of the software application or operating system. Transmeta could create a server chip that is highly optimized for I/O or even possibly have several chips work together while the operating system is none the wiser.

Just because the chip doesn't perform the same at the same Mhz is basically irrelevant to the value of the Crusoe chip. Unfortunately Transmeta is doing a really bad job of promoting this. I can't understand why the heat/power thing is the centerpiece of their marketing.

Re:Don't worry though (2)

Anal Surprise (178723) | more than 13 years ago | (#239957)

Duh. It's already here. The PCG-C1VN, Sony's Picturebook, was available in the US only a little after it was in Japan. This improves their previous record -- the PCG-C1 took almost a year to get to the US.

Re:Tablet PC, etc (1)

codeguy007 (179016) | more than 13 years ago | (#239958)

Laptop replacement? That's nothing. Canada's rebel.com is coming out with a server that is based on the transmeta chips. It apparently runs fairly fast and requires only minimal power to run. If these processors could hand web servers and such, Rebel could take on Sun's Cobalt in the small rack mount server market and save companies lots of money with the current higher memory costs.

Re:Convincing US manufacturers to use TM chips... (2)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 13 years ago | (#239959)

What activities would help "the masses" get their hands on the technology?

I have a different question for you: Why do you care? Whether a laptop uses a TM chip or Intel or AMD is totally invisible. The only question is performance versus battery life versus cost.

Given that no one seems to be interested in using TM's chip so far, there must be valid reasons. One is that the performance seems to be much worse that the competitors. And two is that the processor is only a minor source of battery drain.

So why are you so interested in demanding that manufacturers supply with apparently inferior technology?

This is not to say, by the way, that TM's chip may not find uses in applications that are more interested in heat dissipation than performance.


--

Tablet PC, etc (3)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#239960)

Appartently Transmeta is a device of choice for the forth-coming tablet PC spec from Microsoft.

I have mixed feeling on this one.

But I do not know how viable it will be as a laptop replacement.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

Re:Crusoe for servers? (1)

FlyingDragon (182542) | more than 13 years ago | (#239961)

Linus actually mentioned this on LKML when the Crusoe was first announced. Linux on the bare metal was faster, but not dramatically. The translation caching absorbed most of the overhead.

The speed increase isn't worth the loss in flexibility. The primary advantage Transmeta has is the freedom to completely redesign the chip and instruction set to reduce heat and power consumption. Crusoe has enough speed for its target market, so running Linux on the bare metal wouldn't improve much.

Mumbo Jumbo unmasked... (1)

AndyMouse GoHard (210170) | more than 13 years ago | (#239962)

bringing single point of failure in the machine down to near zero

I think that should read "to near absolute zero" which also explains the 80% cooler remark.

Re: and while you're at it, what is 80% cooler?!?! (2)

megalomang (217790) | more than 13 years ago | (#239963)

What the hell is 80% cooler??

To me, that means that the device generates 20% the heat that it used to, which means instead of running at 322 deg Kelvin, it would run at 64degK, or about -373 degrees Fahrenheit, which is damn cool. It would keep the whole notebook at a cold-ass temperature, definitely removing any need for a fan!

Crusoe isn't the great power saver everyone thinks (2)

esses (223521) | more than 13 years ago | (#239964)

Knowing slashdot's userbase and how anti-large-corporation they are, and since transmetta seems to stand for anti-intel almost as much as amd does, I expect this to be viewed as flamebiat, so flame away! But here are my thoughts. Doing Embedded Engineering professionally I can attest to the various strengths and weaknesses of most embedded platforms out there. Is crusoe low power? Yes! Is it low heat? Yes! Is it the first processor out there to do "code morphing"? No. Is it the the lowest power consumption and lowest heat processor out there? No again. CodeMorphing (as transmetta calls it) is nothing amazingly great. Ever since Intel and AMD both had to preserve backwards compatibility with 16bit processors, and have had to register rename, they've been taking in one set of instrunctions and actually executing a different set. They've accomplished this through *gasp* software built into the hardware! *gasp* They call it microcode. If you want to get down to the nitty gritty, the Pentium4's trace cache is pretty much the same thing that Transmetta's CodeMorphing system does. It decodes an instrunction into other instrunctions and stores (or caches) the decoded instrunction fragments. It's not rocket science. It's not revolutionary. But it sure is cool. That aside, let me get back to the power issue. What most of the readers on slashdot don't seem to know is that both AMD and Intel make mobile versions of their processors. No wait.. everyone knows that but most people don't actually know how different the mobile version is from it's desktop brother. If you were to compare numbers between Crusoe, Mobile Intel and Mobile AMD processors, you'd find that their power consumption is all actually pretty darned close. The mobile version of the desktop processors actually are different right down to some of the core. Many of the mobile processors can turn off part of their cpu's. They can all regulate their frequency. They're flat out not the same processor other than that they have the same name and the same features from a software standpoint. All that said, I personally think XScale/StrongARM are the best performance/power processors out there. Too bad you can't run native x86 code on them.

Mumbo Jumbo (2)

Alatar (227876) | more than 13 years ago | (#239965)

bringing single point of failure in the machine down to near zero

Anybody want to tell me what this means? I sure as hell can't make head nor tail of it.

They're too small! (3)

canning (228134) | more than 13 years ago | (#239966)

I think Toshiba is going in the completely wrong direction with their new laptop. Look at what Crysler did, they went retro! Retro man! I for one don't want a small notebook or laptop. I want my money's worth. Give me a laptop that is slower that my calculator, has little memory and storage, weighs about the same as a small child and contains enough plastic to fill a room.

When it arrives on the continent, the notebook will join Sony's Crusoe-powered Vaio, NEC's Versa Ultralight and a new entrant from Casio.

When it arrives on the continent no one will notice! My laptop screams look at me! I come in five different colors of florescent!


Murphy's Law of Copiers

Re:Crusoe for servers? (2)

zhensel (228891) | more than 13 years ago | (#239967)

On a related noted, could it be possible to compile directly for the Crusoe processor in a native (and I guess therefor significantly faster) instruction set? Could one port, say, Linux to the native Crusoe architechture? Hell, Linus is working there - has he already done this? Like the other responses to this comment say, the Crusoe is great for the mobile market, and if Linux could run 20% faster than windows (presumably a windows port would be far behind given how long it's taken them to finish their 64-bit port) it would go a long way towards consumer acceptance.

Re:CA blackouts (2)

zhensel (228891) | more than 13 years ago | (#239968)

Of course, the demand would go up when people are checking CNN.com to see if they will be the next to fall victim to rolling blackouts, so it would actually make more of a problem :)

Seriously though, I doubt you could convince any company to buy two sets of servers solely for power issues (unless they did some research and found that the power costs saved would offset the cost of the low-load server rack, which it probably wouldn't). Hell, you can't even convince the president of the United States to help fix the power problem. It should be noted that he has reasons similar to the aforementioned technology companies.

Re:All You Naysayers... (2)

zhensel (228891) | more than 13 years ago | (#239969)

I'm in IT--and you think that you're cynical.

Is it just me, or would I think twice about buying from a small server company with an IT department. Especially considering there probably are only one or two marketoids to help out at this point in the company's development. I don't know, I just thought a company that solely produced massively redundant rack servers like this would be more, uh, self-sufficient?

They were referring to the fans, not the CPU. (1)

OS24Ever (245667) | more than 13 years ago | (#239970)

Having to bring down a server because your cooling system fails is extremely annoying & time consuming.

Re:CA blackouts (1)

xkenny13 (309849) | more than 13 years ago | (#239971)

  • If people are going to (wrongly) blame the power crisis in Califonia on technology companies and servers running all the time, the industry could at least take something positive from this and deploy less power-hungry servers.

Perhaps ... this may reduce your electrical bill (by how much, I have no idea), but it won't affect the "power crisis". Energy saved at night or during off-peak times cannot be stored for use during the next day. The biggest problem is "peak" usage, and generally at that time, you're using the big processor anyway since busy hours are busy hours.

I actually wonder if night-time energy conservation helps or hurts the power companies. The saved energy doesn't benefit us, and the lost revenue from night-time energy usage adversely affects the ability to build/rennovate other power plants.

Purposeful or under-handed power-company/governmental bunglings notwithstanding. :-)

Re:IBM Is Going To Resell RLX (2)

McSpew (316871) | more than 13 years ago | (#239972)

A quick blurb on Yahoo news mentions that IBM is going to resell RLX boxes. It also calls RLX a Compaq offshoot, although I'm not sure this is a valid use of the term 'offshoot'.

Perhaps you'd prefer the term 'splinter group' or 'faction.' The guys at RLX are ex-Compaqers who decided there was another way to do things. They include Gary Stimac, who was one of Compaq's original executives and Mike Perez, who used to run Compaq's server group.

Re:What about the graphics? (1)

lyberth (319170) | more than 13 years ago | (#239973)

Yes Confuscious also said "if you go to bed with an itchy ass you wake up with a smelly finger"

Re:Tablet PC, etc (1)

number one duck (319827) | more than 13 years ago | (#239974)

Its possible that that niche doesn't exist at all, as any list of failed products will tell you...

Battery life? (1)

scorcherer (325559) | more than 13 years ago | (#239975)

OK, we all know that processor power consumption isn't everything. But let's keep the general idea of reduced power. Does it still mean longer battery life?

I mean, it seems to be the case with laptops that whenever they invent a better battery technology, they use up all that power for the latest Hexium XIV+++ @ 1.6 helluvahertz and the largest possible backlit TFT display (which, btw, is starting to give a retro feeling of those lovely luggables).

So they might just cut down battery sizes and use the power reduction only to market it as lighter and smaller. OK for some people that might just be what they want but /dev/me wants a fscking computer not a hey-look-my-pute-is-smaller-than-yours-oh-ignore-t he-fact-that-the-battery-dies-so-quickly. Damn.

--

LOOOOOOOONG life (3)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 13 years ago | (#239976)

I can't wait to see what happens when someone teams up mini-fuel-cell type batteries (like the ones Motorola [slashdot.org] has in development) with a low-power proc like the Crusoe or StrongARM to build a tablet PC that lasts for a month on a single charge

Re:the japanese page is here . Nice geekette :) (1)

Jay Whitney99 (412854) | more than 13 years ago | (#239977)

the Libretto L1 will be available in the US from Dynamism.com in two weeks. Check out http://www.dynamism.com/libretto/index.shtml

Don't worry though (2)

The Angry Clam (442606) | more than 13 years ago | (#239978)

Sony is pretty good about bringing out products in the US eventually, and when they do, the best part will be the compatability with Linux. Look at the Vaio, for example. Almost totally supported, which is pretty rare with notebooks. I'm happy with mine. I'm sure that when the Crusoe shows up on American shores, it'll be in a great product too... gotta love the toys

Re:Down to picking the very small nits (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 13 years ago | (#239979)

Agreed. Reminds me of the refrigerator question:

If your house is too hot, will opening the refrigerator door help, hurt, or have no impact?

-- MarkusQ

Down to picking the very small nits (2)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 13 years ago | (#239980)

a perfect processor that would release absolutly no heat

Not quite. Any non-reversible operation increases entropy and thus produces some heat. Changing a 1 to a 0 (by draining a charge to ground, say) will produce heat. You could sure reduce it below where we are now, and there are some interesting designs around for almost-reversible-process-computers, but even they have to do something irreversible (e.g. tell you the answer) to really qualify as "computers".

Can you imagine...... (2)

Atlas_Smirked (450172) | more than 13 years ago | (#239981)

Alright! Somebody had to do it.... Can you imagine a Beow.....
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