I evaluated transmeta’s chips in 2003, I think.. it was for a target product that needed a low power consumption. When we got their development kit and the heatsink was huge, I knew they were in trouble. I KNEW they were in trouble when we tried to return the multi-thousand-dollar kit to look at some other options they had.. and they wouldn’t listen.
If you’re working in the embedded world, you’re probably in a well defined area:
Low power, low speed micros. These are usually under 20mhz, sometimes faster. Cost a couple bucks and have everything under the sun integrated. Some have micro RTOS’s developed for them, most don’t. This market is mature and owned by people like Atmel, Microchip, Zilog, and a hoarde of other people making variants of chips like the 8051. Transmeta didn’t stand a chance there. Those chips consume almost no power at all and cost nothing.
Midrange micros for pdas and other appliances. This is where I thought transmeta had a chance, but then along came Intel with the XScale architecture and they made it work and work very well. This, not the pentium M, is what killed them I think. XScale is cheap, well supported, and very low power.
Above-midrange; Transmeta might have had a shot here, but their power consumption and support was much worse than the x86 compatible Nat Semi Geode (now owned by AMD?), and offerings from Via (C3 MiniITX). Price? No competition.
Notebooks. Pentium M ended this one. So did the G4 chip from Motorola.
Desktop high end CPUS. Nobody ever expected them to be competitive.
Looking back, it seems like their market ran away from them whereever they looked. Unfortunate, but not unforseeable IMO.