Transmeta, een nogal vaag bedrijf waarover we een paar week geleden tijdens de Comdex ook al wat nieuws poste, heeft wat meer info bekend gemaakt over wat ze van plan zijn.
Het idee ziet er erg vet uit: een super snelle processor die alles draait wat te emuleren valt en dat nog veel sneller doet ook.
The Register heeft een artikel met info, waarvan hier een deel:
Clear? Thought not. The application actually covers a range of 21 interrelated claims, the gist of which seems to be that Transmeta thinks it can design a cheap, fast processor which uses a range of cute techniques to overcome the shortcomings of cloning and emulation. The techniques are applicable to all kinds of target hardware, operating systems and applications, but obviously x86 and Wintel apps are the most important ones that have to be tackled. They allow for the design of a new, original processor (VLIW seems to be the preference, but this doesn't have to be the case) which can run x86 and other applications faster than the original.
The point of the "memory controller" aspect of the application is to allow for the detection of the difference between memory and memory-mapped I/O. Emulation systems such as SoftPC have to deal with situations where the hardware used by the application being run is different, or maybe isn't even there. Instructions to I/O also have to be executed in a particular order, so dealing with this, if you don't know which is memory and which memory-mapped I/O, slows down emulators massively.
Transmeta intends to combine microprocessor and memory controller into something it refers to as a "morph host." The CPU will include code morphing software and a hardware morph portion. How this works is as follows: The target application gives target instructions to the code morphing software for translation into host instructions, which the morph host can then execute. At the same time, the target OS receives calls from the target application and transfers these to the code morphing software. Says the application: "In a preferred embodiment of the microprocessor the morph host is a VLIW processor designed with a plurality of processing channels."
The VLIW processor itself can be much simpler, faster and cheaper than current processors, because it "does not include circuitry to detect issue dependencies or to reorder, optimise and reschedule primitive instructions. This, in turn, allows faster processing at higher clock rates than is possible with either the processors for which the target application programs were originally designed or other processors using emulation programs to run target application programs. However, the processor is not limited to VLIW processors and may function as well with any type of processor such as a Risc processor."