As AMD continues its battle for dominance in the microprocessor market, the company announced an alliance with start-up Transmeta to promote industry standards for next-generation chips.
Specifically, Transmeta has secured the rights to use AMD's x86-64 architecture, which will be the foundation of AMD's 64-bit Hammer chips due out next year.
Transmeta will also use a complementary technology called HyperTransport which is used to improve the speed at which data can move between a system's microprocessor and peripheral chips.
AMD said the technology, which essentially provides an easy transition between 32-bit and 64-bit processing, extends the x86 processor architecture to 64 bits, but retains full compatibility with 32-bit applications without taking a performance hit.
The timing of the announcement comes just a few days before AMD rival Intel plans to launch its own 64-bit Itanium chip on 29 May.
In addition, Transmeta also will use AMD's instruction set when it develops the 64-bit processors. David Ditzel, Transmeta's co-founder and chief technology officer, said: "There's no reason to reinvent the wheel here."
According to Ditzel, companies have already started to build chipsets around the HyperTransport bus, which is up to 48 times faster than the standard input/output bus. He said that Transmeta has not announced plans to develop a 64-bit processor but "wants to keep its options open".
The HyperTransport technology will be used by the two processor companies and by Sun Microsystems and Cisco, as well as a number of graphics chipmakers to connect their chips. Microsoft is also evaluating the technology.
Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64, said Transmeta's move to license AMD's x86-64 technology will simplify the lives of software developers and increase the likelihood that the x86-64 architecture will attract the software support it needs for market success.
Terms of the licensing deal were not made public.
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