The minnows of the x86 compatible processor market are preparing to make the leap to 64-bit computing according to presentations at the Fall Processor Forum yesterday.
Transmeta, detailing the shift of its Efficeon architecture to 90 nanometer, said that 64-bit compatibility was on its roadmap, while Taiwanese upstart Via Technologies also threw its hat into the 64 bit ring.
Transmeta CTO Dave Ditzel listed 64 bit extensions as one of the things we’re working on, in his update on the Efficeon roadmap. Arguably, adding 64-bit extensions would strengthen the vendor’s pitch for dense non-notebook applications. It already pitches itself for low-power blades, and the latest Efficeons are featured in a deskside personal supercomputer from Orion Multisystems, which features 96 of its latest TM8800s and is claimed to offer 300 Gigaflops on DP Linpack, the firm said.
For its part, Via Technologies yesterday said its Isaiah core, due in early 2006, would feature 64 bit support, as well as a high speed front side bus, an industry leading floating point unit that can achieve floating-point additions and multiplies using only two clock cycles, and pumped up cache.
While Transmeta’s Ditzel yesterday held out the promise of 64 bit support on future versions of the vendor’s Efficeon platform, right now, the company is working on getting its Efficeon 2, dubbed TM8800, onto the market. It announced last month that the platform, its first on a 90 nanometer process, had begun limited production.
The TM8800 debuts at 1.65Ghz, and the vendor expects to hit the 2GHz mark by the end of this year. The range will span devices running at 1GHz to 1.1GHz at 3w, 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz at 7W, 1.6GHz to 1.8GHz at 12W, 1.8GHz to 2GHz at under 25W.
The 25W part takes the vendor out of its original niche of low power notebooks, into more the more mainstream thin and light segment. Transmeta’s director of strategic partner initiatives, John Heinlein, said this would allow the company to offer manufacturers a single platform that spans most of the portable computing market, except for full-spec desktop replacements. While the company is uncharacteristically emphasizing higher clock speed with the TM8800 launch, Heinlein said its overall pitch was still based on the greater efficiency of its products.
In his presentation, Ditzel said apart from notebooks and blades, Efficeon 2 opened the door to a range of high volume platforms such as Media Center PCs, personal video recorders, and UPC handhelds.
The new platform will offer also no-execute virus protection in conjunction with Windows XP Service Pack 2, and SSE-3 multimedia instructions.
Looking to next year, the next generation Efficeon 3 core will debut on 90 nanometer, before moving onto 65 nanometer. Efficeon 4 will then debut on 65 nanometer. Apart from the 64-bit support, other enhancements with the upcoming cores will include a doubling of cache, a tripling of DRAM bus speed, and a quadrupling of HyperTransport speed.