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Linux.com: Understanding The Fabless Transmeta

Sep 15, 2000, 03:27 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Richardson)

"A recent EETimes story announced that Transmeta had changed its production agreements with Toshiba and IBM. In the beginning, Transmeta had sold production rights to the Crusoe processor to these companies. While Linux fans everywhere are rooting for Linus Torvalds' latest venture, this move begs the question ... is this a good thing for Transmeta?"

"Transmeta's Crusoe processor design is just that ... a design. Every modern processor goes through years of simulations before the earliest silicon is spun. Intel, IBM and AMD maintain very expensive chip fabrication facilities, funded by decades of revenue and investment. A small startup like Transmeta cannot afford to start a fabrication facility, even with Paul Allen's deep pockets."

"Like most companies producing custom ASICs, Transmeta uses the "fabless" approach to chip design. The simulated design is given solid form by an outside production house. With NexGen (the first Pentium clone, later sold to AMD to make the K6), the design house produced chips under contract. These chips were sold under the NexGen name."

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