Transmeta Reference Board from IBASE
August 05, 2004
Transmeta have approved the IBASE MB860 Mini-ITX motherboard as an evaluation platform for their Efficeon processor. The MB860 is driven by Transmeta's Efficeon TM8600 running at 1Ghz with cunningly integrated North Bridge functionality, and has an ATI M7 graphics controller with 16MB of onboard memory supporting CRT, TFT, TV and TMDS output, and an ALI M1563M South Bridge. Ports and headers are as to be expected on today's Mini-ITX about town, with the possible exception of the LVDS and TDMS interfaces, and the 44 pin laptop-style IDE connector (IDE 2 in the picture). Memory is catered for with a DDR SODIMM socket, which can accept up to 1GB of DDR 333 memory. Ethernet connectivity can be optionally 10/100 or 10/100/1000 (the MB860F).
The Efficeon TM8600 CPU is an interesting chip - it uses code morphing to dynamically optimise and translate x86 instructions and SSE, SSE2 and MMX extensions into VLIW (Very Long Instruction Words), a form of parallel processing pioneered by Josh Fisher's "ELI" group at Yale University. Embedded power management software dynamically adjusts frequency and voltage to reduce heat dissippation and power usage of the CPU to between 1 and 2W under load.
As the MB860 is an evaluation platform targetted and priced for industrial customers to create other low power consumption devices (set-top boxes, laptops, routers, media servers etc.) we might not see one inside a Big Trak just yet - but it will be interesting to see how a Transmeta powered board compares to similar offerings from VIA.
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