Crusoe Exposed: Transmeta TM5xxx Architecture 1

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Report Structure

This report is the first installment of a series of papers on Crusoe internals. The purpose of this initial release is to serve as a wake-up call to those at Transmeta and elsewhere who thought Crusoe was impervious to reverse engineering. It serves as the proof that the knowledge Transmeta sought to keep secret is in fact out there. Considering that this analysis was done for strictly academic reasons in my spare time, it is very reasonable to assume that Transmeta’s full time competitors could possess similar knowledge.

The author is publishing this research anonymously so as to gauge the reaction to its release. If sufficient interest is present, a second report will be released in early 2004, which will describe in detail the instruction set, binary encodings, functional unit specifics and more. The author’s disassembler and analysis tools source code will also be provided. A third and final report will document all behavior specific to translated x86 code, as experimented with in real time on stock hardware.

The eventual goal is to allow developers to switch into native TM5xxx mode at runtime, allowing the modification of CMS itself. Contrary to statements released by Linus et al (see [4] in references) presumably to discourage this very effort, CMS does in fact contain ‘back doors’ to allow such modification. While the factory programmed CMS version in flash ROM does verify a DSA signature on any CMS upgrade images, there appears to be at least one backdoor that not even Transmeta itself was apparently aware of. As stated earlier, this will be presented in the next report once the author has time to write it up.

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