Transmeta to launch new Efficeon processor

The new Efficeon is being heralded as the best chance the small chip company has to compete against rival Intel Corp. 

“It’s the second most important day in the company’s history,” since Transmeta first launched its Crusoe chip in 2000, said Brian Alger, an analyst at Pacific Growth Equities.

Santa Clara, California-based Transmeta ran into production problems with Crusoe and failed to gain the support of major PC manufacturers.

But, Hewlett-Packard Co.  is expressing support for the Efficeon, while Nvidia Corp. has said it will develop a multimedia processor for Transmeta’s chips, including Efficeon.

“In order for the company to capture new business and attract new customers they need to stay at the leading edge of technology,” Alger said. “For Transmeta, in particular, this is a critical juncture. They’re making a leap forward.”

Transmeta has added new power management technology to reduce power leakage from smaller circuitry and new interfaces for faster memory speeds, among other advances, said Art Swift, senior vice president of marketing.

“This Efficeon processor opens up new markets,” Swift said. “We added features that increase the applicability of the product for blade servers in which companies pack the number of processors tightly together.”

The new chip enables typical applications to run about 50 percent faster than Crusoe and multimedia applications up to 80 percent faster, said John Heinlein, directory of system marketing at Transmeta.

The chip can offer the same performance at less power or higher performance at the same power as the current chip, he said.

Shares of Transmeta stock have benefited from buzz surrounding the chip, rising 136 percent on Nasdaq since Sept. 12. On Monday, the shares rose 18 percent to close at $4.52.

Earlier this month, Transmeta shares rose on the news that Fujitsu Ltd.  would be the first foundry for next-generation Efficeon chips manufactured using the 90 nanometer process.

Efficeon chips will initially be made using the 130-nanometer technology manufacturing process. The smaller the circuitry and space between transistors the more transistors that can fit on a chip, increasing the computing power with no increase in cost or size.

“They have some of the very brightest minds in the world,” Alger said of Transmeta’s engineers. “But from a corporate perspective, in the current design and structure of the company, they certainly need to have a successful product here.”

Source: Reuters

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