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Linux.com: Understanding The Fabless Transmeta

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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