Intel has warned that Transmeta's Crusoe processor suffers from
compatibility problems with existing PC architectures.
Analysts said the criticism shows the startup is "playing a
dangerous game" in targeting the chip giant's core business.
Don MacDonald, director of marketing for Intel's mobile platform
group, said there were doubts whether Transmeta's Crusoe chip is
fully compatible with x86, a standard for microprocessor design and
manufacture established by Intel and supported on its
An Intel spokesman said: "Transmeta has an issue in terms of
full compatibility with what people are using today, the Pentium
III. It doesn't support Pentium III's streaming SIMD [Single
Instruction Multiple Data] extensions, which accelerates audio and
He added the processor does not support Intel's SpeedStep
technology, which is geared to lengthening laptop battery life by
matching power consumption to processor demand.
Analysts said lack of SIMD support, an extension to the x86
instruction set, will not impair core functionality and said the
Crusoe incorporated its own power saving technology.
A notebook based on the Crusoe chip, and weighing around three
pounds, could potentially run for eight hours before running out of
battery life, compared with only a couple of hours on current
high-power ultralight notebooks.
Andy Brown, a senior analyst with IDC, said: "SIMD is used on
the Pentium III for 3D graphics monitoring and better definition.
Supporting this is not Transmeta's primary concern - which is
running processors at a lower wattage and extending battery
Brown said the criticism from Intel showed Transmeta was
"playing a dangerous game" in targeting the notepad market, where
Intel is particularly strong, and that it might do better to go
after the appliance and handheld markets.
"Intel will not make the same mistake with Transmeta as it did
with AMD's K6-2. It was slow to react with the Celeron chip and
allowed AMD to push into the lower end of the market," he said. He
added that Tranmeta needed to show industry backing, beyond
demonstrating its technology with a few hardware partners.
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