Sun Buys Stealth Mode Startup Montalvo System

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Friday, April 25, 2008

Sun Microsystems (JAVA) bought Montalvo System, a Silicon Valley semiconductor startup which is still in stealth mode.

Montalvo Systems succintly describes itself as a “well funded fabless semiconductor startup funded by prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firms”.

The Santa Clara, California based company has come up with a design for a chip for portable computers and devices, when (and if) finished and manufactured, will theoretically be capable of running the same software as chips from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices.

Montalvo’s chips, however, will fundamentally differ from the latest Core or Opteron processors from Intel and AMD in that the cores on its chip won’t be symmetrical, i.e. identical to each other. Instead, Montalvo’s chips will sport a mix of high-performance cores and lower-performance cores on the same piece of silicon, similar to the Cell chip devised by IBM, Toshiba, and Sony, according to sources close to the company.

By merging asymmetrical cores onto the same piece of silicon, Montalvo can cut power consumption by dishing applications that don’t require a lot of computing firepower onto less-powerful, more energy-efficient cores.

They recently acquired a funding of $73 million.

Many of Montalvo’s executives have an history with Intel. NEA-IndoUS’s Vinod Dham, who sits on Montalvo’s board, was one of Intel’s chief chip architects during the Pentium era. He then went to NexGen, which designed an Intel-compatible chip, and then AMD when it bought NexGen.

Montalvo’s CEO is Matt Perry, who also served as chief executive of Transmeta, which once tried to take on Intel in notebooks but failed. Peter Song, Montalvo’s chief architect, earlier founded a company called MemoryLogix, which tried to build low-power Intel-compatible chips. Source: WSJ & CNet

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