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Nvidia to make chipsets for Transmeta

Further extending its reach beyond graphics processors, Nvidia will produce chipsets for Transmeta's Efficeon processor.

Further extending its reach beyond graphics processors, Nvidia will produce chipsets for Transmeta's Efficeon processor, the companies said Tuesday.

The Nvidia C8000 will essentially connect the processor to other components inside a computer and likely significantly enhance the speed at which data flows inside a Transmeta-based PC.

The C8000 will contain an AGP port for connecting the processor to the graphics chip, a standard feature in Intel-based PCs but a new one for Transmeta computers. Along with speeding up graphics performance, incorporating an AGP port will allow manufacturers to insert Transmeta chips inside of notebooks with larger 13- and 14-inch screens, a market the company hopes to penetrate, said Dave Ditzel, Transmeta's chief technical officer.

The C8000 will also connect to the processor through a HyperTransport link.

The chip in many ways will be similar to the chipset Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia will produce for the Athlon64 chip that Advanced Micro Devices will release Sept. 23. Although called a chipset, the upcoming Nvidia parts for AMD and Transmeta actually consist only of a single chip. Both Transmeta and AMD have integrated the traditional second half of the chipset, the memory controller, into their processors.

The Efficeon processor, formerly code-named Astro, comes after a difficult two years for Transmeta. The company has endured a spate of layoffs, management changes, financial losses and delays since 2001. Recently, however, Hewlett-Packard incorporated chips from the company into thin-client terminals and Web tablets.

Efficeon is based on a new design that the company says will use less power and provide more performance than its previous chips. Both characteristics should, ideally, let the company land design wins in normal-size notebooks and a delayed crop of supermini PCs.

"You are going to start to see smaller form factors," Ditzel said.

Details about Efficeon will be released Oct. 14 at the Microprocessor Forum with a technical presentation by Ditzel.