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Transmeta TM8000 (Astro) to be released in September

Transmeta will officially release the long-anticipated TM8000 processor, also named Astro, in September 2003. At least, this has been announced at the press conference dedicated to Q2 fiscal quarter results.

According to Dr. Matthew Perry, Transmeta CEO, in Q2 the company had started sampling 1.1GHz TM8000 and already received positive response from partners. He said TM8000 performance is about 50% higher in general applications and 80% higher in multimedia apps comparing to the existing TM5800.

Transmeta aims its novelty at low-power notebooks with 12-14" LCDs, blades and home servers, web tablets, etc.

According to Dr. Perry, the company has already signed the agreement with one of the largest OEMs regarding TM8000 shipments. Transmeta estimates the profit as about $6-8 million in H1 2004.

By the way, Transmeta’s current results are far from the best: in Q2 the company earned $5.1 million vs. $6 million in the previous quarter and especially vs. $7.5 million in Q2 2002. Quarter losses made $22.0 million or $0.16 per share. Transmeta explains this with $24.6 million half-year expenses only for Astro development and debugging.

The next quarter results are expected to be similar to the just announced. And only by the year-end, when TM8000 will start arriving in volumes, the company expects considerable shift to profitability.

Let’s revise TM8000 features again. This 0.13µm chip will support 256-bit VLIW (Very Long Instruction Words) vs. 128-bit VLIW of the current generation, and will perform up to 8 instructions per clock. Similar to the existing Crusoe solutions, TM8000 will have memory controller integrated into Northbridge. However, unlike today’s DDR266 support, Astro will work with DDR400 and ECC memory (additional feat for the server segment). The new CPU will have integrated AGP 4X interface along with Low Pin Count (LPC) bus for flash memory.

Besides, the existing Ali Southbridge used with Crusoe processors, PCI-X supporting models might appear as well. Along with the CPU, the company will announce newer LongRun-enabled software for recompiling x86 instructions into internal codes.

TM8000 volume production will be handled by Transmeta´s traditional partner manufacturer, TSMC.

Source: Silicon Valley

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