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AMD to Resell Transmeta Chip for Pay-as-You-Go PC

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the stamp-of-approval-for-more-cash dept.

28

InfoWorldMike writes "InfoWorld.com reports that AMD will resell Transmeta's chip for Microsoft's pay-as-you-go PCs. Transmeta said that they had struck an exclusive arrangement for AMD to brand the specialized Efficeon chip under their own name and resell it worldwide. AMD plans to use Microsoft FlexGo and its Efficeon deal with Transmeta as part of its 50X15 initiative, which aims to build a global network of partners and business models to help connect 50 percent of the world's population to the Internet by 2015." From the article "For the first time, Transmeta and the Efficeon technology will have the brand and power and reach of AMD," said Art Swift, president and chief executive officer of Transmeta. "[Our goal is] to reach as many consumers in the world as possible in emerging markets."

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DRM love you chip (2, Funny)

Isosonys (589846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478045)

It's a STD for geeks in the form of a CPU.

It gets you mixed feelings to see... (1)

Zx-man (759966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478057)

How a nice technology is being involved into ruining your privacy.

$100 laptop (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478058)

IIRC the AMD chip which is going into this laptop may not have been completely decided. Would the Transmeta CPU be a good match for that application? Perhaps Microsoft could sell pay as you go software for Linux :)

Re:$100 laptop (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478427)

Whilst a don't think that it is set in stone, the Geode chips the OLPC project are planning to use include a south and northbridge along with graphics in one package (IIRC 1.1W for a 533Mhz PIII equivelent with direct pin out to an LCD sounds ideal for a very cheep laptop).

The Efficion has an integrated nothbridge, but the extra chips needed for a southbridge/graphics package would be bound to up the costs. (Not to mention the Efficions are more like a 1Ghz Pentium-M with AMD64 added on for good luck, and they suck 5W of power).

Why? (1)

nlago (187984) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478145)

I don't get it. Aren't the transmetas optimized for low power consumption? Why bother with that on a desktop, why didn't AMD go with one of their "standard" processors?

Well, I guess a possible answer is that their processors are faster than the transmeta and they want to keep the market split ("cheap computers are ok, but if you want performance go for the K8"). Maybe it is also a means of diminishing the competition (previously, transmeta was one of the companies working towards this, now they are partnering, which is probably beneficial to both).

But why haven't such agreements appeared before, on "ordinary", low-end consumer products, then?

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478159)

I don't get it. Aren't the transmetas optimized for low power consumption? Why bother with that on a desktop,

Even desktop PCs are starting to hit a heat wall now.

More power = more heat = more fans = noisy heap o' crap. Noone wants a noisy heap o' crap.

Re:Why? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478638)

Err because it's a good idea ? Just because you can afford to throw out a pizza after taking just one bite doesn't mean it's a good idea.

I'm all for high-performance low-power chips. For most uses, we don't need the super-multi-ghz light-flickering beasts anyway. Frig, my main PC needs a 600 watt power supply just to breathe. Give me an 8-cpu low-voltage rig and I'll be happy, not to mention saving a chunk on my hydro bill. Hell, I'd build servers around massively-parallel mobile CPUs if I could.. just give me a board for it! Less power = less heat = longer life. I'm sure the nearest small biz with a dozen servers wouldn't mind an extra ten grand a year just in power savings for using low-voltage chips.

Re:Why? (1)

nlago (187984) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478972)

You realize you did not answer my question?

I didn't ask "why is less power consumption good"; I asked "why would AMD bother to use a transmeta chip intead of one of their own"? The only advantage offered by the transmeta being less power consumption, this is not relevant to the application (this "pre-paid computer"). Why wouldn't they just use one of their more power-hungry cpus *or*, if anything, use the turion, which (I guess) is a little lighter on power?

Re:Why? (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478246)

Less heat dissipation lets you fit more cores in.

Efficeon (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478259)

This CPU is one of those technology jewels [transmeta.com] that never got a spread interest in the market.
It is power savvy while being powerful enough and x86 compatible.
It would be great if AMD could really revitalise it to avoid flops like Amiga [wikipedia.org] : good ideas with no luck! at all

Re:Efficeon (1)

dammy (131759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478301)

Atleast with this CPU, the open source Amiga-Like operating system, http://www.aros.org/ [aros.org] will run on it.

dammy
http://www.teamaros.org/ [teamaros.org]

Re:Efficeon (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478579)

*cough* http:www.aros.org/ [aros.org] -> 404

Torvalds.... (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478275)

Torvalds would be rolling in the grave if he knew what they do with the technology he helped to develop.

Re:Torvalds.... (1)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478446)

Psst... he's not dead...

Re:Torvalds.... (2, Funny)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15479163)

He would be if he knew!!!

Re:Torvalds.... (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15479749)

Psst... he's not dead...

Have you confirmed this with NetCraft?

This doesn't make a lot of sense... (3, Insightful)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478727)

...why would anyone want a Transmeta in a pay-as-you-go PC? Transmeta chips like the Efficeon are optimized for low power usage, not price (as a value pay-as-you-go PC would require)...

Sure, if you're selling PCs in sub-saharan Africa where there isn't a good power net, something like this might make sense- But this story says these PCs are being sold in places like Mexico/Brazil/Russia- Last I checked, a power outlet isn't too hard to come by in these places...

The other possiblity is that they are embedding the cost metering of the PC directly into the Transmeta "Code Morphing" software that allows Transmeta chips to emulate other PCs... maybe this would allow the metering to be done at a low enough level inside the chip that it would be hard to hack the "metering" out of the final PC... If this was the case, however, they would have trumpeted this in the press release.

Here's what I suspect is really happening: AMD and Transmeta have probably struck an unannounced deal licensing some of the valuable Transmeta patents. However, since Transmeta has been hurting lately and probably is seeking extra funding to survive, AMD threw Transmeta a little PR nugget that allows them to forecast increasing chip sales in the near future to help secure additional capital- just my guess.

Re:This doesn't make a lot of sense... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478775)

That's an interesting point about the patents. Makes sense in the face of something I was thinking didn't add up too: AMD already makes [wikipedia.org] a low-power, low-cost chip that seems pretty well suited to this job, yet they aren't using it.

Re:This doesn't make a lot of sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478903)

Interesting hypothesis. If that's true, then what does Transmeta have which AMD don't, can't, or won't develop.
Transmeta have two big themes: low power and "code morphing". Maybe they are something which AMD is interested in.

Huh? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478805)

is this AMD admitting that their Geode and Turion processors aren't really that efficient?

Linus Torvalds ANTIMONOPOLIST N 1!!! in TRANSMETA (0, Offtopic)

TruzenZuzeks (980076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478867)

Linus Torvalds - the LINUX Father and developer has created the best Window-Breaker system LINUX to stop the soft monopoly AND HE WORKS AS a senior developer in TRANSMETA, a company which layed the ideas for Intel-Breaker. I hearby DECLARE him as the World No.1 ANTIMONOPOLIST FOR SINGLE-HANDED INITIATION OF WINTEL-BREAKING SEMPRE FI Linus! P.S. This actually brings one to seriusly meditate on the ability of one (1 !) single acting person to break the mold ( "the matrix", if you plaease). Although an avalanche of supporters helped him, the fact remains that this single guy successful action brings all kind of philosophical thoghts - Dao De tzin, Sun tzu, David (from the Bible Testament) .

Pay as you live (1)

matt328 (916281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478979)

This is a bit of paranoia, but imagine waking up to this one morning:
"Like that body you're living in? Since it was grown in our lab we own it and you are only renting it. You are now 3 months late on your rent, violating the terms of service you implicitly agreed to by being born. Have a nice afterlife."

Re:Pay as you live (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494323)

And no children without permission - no unauthorised reproduction of patented genetic material - we don't care that it was some virus that inserted "Our Patented DNA" into your germline, anymore than we do if wind spreads pollen containing "Our Patented DNA" to crops on your farm.

Maybe the first step towards a merger/buyout? (1)

BBPursell (814973) | more than 8 years ago | (#15479103)

Anyone think that maybe this could be the first move towards AMD taking Transmeta into the fold? While Transmeta hasn't done all that well in retail, and AMD has very good competing products, there are a few things that would make this merger a good thing for both companies. For Transmeta, they don't become another casualty of the "great technologies that were poorly marketed, and slightly ahead of their time" type, and become part of a larger company rather than a mountain of paperwork, memories, and angry stockholders. One thing for AMD, who has seemed to be on the cutting edge of the general-purpose processor world since the introduction of the Athlon back in '98 or so, this gives them access to a completely different type and generation of processors, using the code-morphing soft-processor. These processors, and their technology, have a couple of VERY obvious uses for next-gen stuff. Firstly, the code-morphing nature of the Transmeta processor would allow them to introduce new instruction sets without designing new silicon. They could, when developing a new architecture, then ship properly configured soft-processors to developers before new architectures are completed. Secondly, the huge increase of importance for virtualization is on the horizon and soon to be crucial. The soft-processor can offer a whole lot more versatility to the world of virtualization, if it is reprogrammable while executing... (ooh, I just thought, what if you were to pop one of these in as a reprogrammable co-processor into an open slot on dual or quad-opteron board like the currently planned FPGA, only easier to reprogram -- no need for customized Verilog of VHDL). Another thing for AMD is that it is not doing all that well in the notebook market. While they generally kick Intel's tail in power consumption, that's only on the desktop. Transmeta's primary marketing tactic is that they have the lowest power consumption for a GPP (General Purpose Processor). Lastly, as to the importance of low-power consumption for the desktops mentioned in this article, remember, in other parts of the world, electricity is not a cheap as it is in the US or other industrialized nations. Also, in some more remote areas, where there is no (or an unreliable) power grid, people need to minimize the amount of extra power drawn from their generators. BTW, how long till someone gets Linux running on one of these things, making it such that people can "Pay-as-they-please"?

viruses and spam (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15479113)

...help connect 50 percent of the world's population to the Internet by 2015.'

Sweet, just imagine the viruses and spam we'll get when 50 percent of the world is connected. And all the new crappy myspace pages that will be created.

It's for the security (1)

remsleep (926379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15480439)

It's not the standard Efficeon, is a modified version that stops running if the owner doesn't pay the bill -- built under contract from Microsoft. Because the security is all in the CPU it is much more difficult to hack (ie. stop paying the monthly pay-as-you-go FlexGo bill, and just keep the computer). I think Intel-based machines are going with some kind of BIOS modification, but its much less secure. Apparently AMD has recognized this, but clearly Intel would lose serious face if they in any way recognized any value in anything Transmeta.

link to implementation details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15482121)

See this article: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9584_22-6080208.html [zdnet.com]

quote:

Theirs is a very secure implementation because the code is on the chip," said Billy Edwards, senior vice president and chief innovation officer at AMD. "Over time we will put it into our chips."


stop speculating and get your story right. oh wait, this is /.

irony? (1)

scatterbrained (144748) | more than 8 years ago | (#15482510)

Art Swift as CEO of Transmeta? What's next, Joe Cool as
CEO of Intel?
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