Transmeta licenses low-power tech to Nvidia

Agreement covers all of Transmeta's patents and patent applications, as well as the LongRun2 suite of advanced power management technologies.

Update at 10:40 a.m. with background about why Nvidia licensed Transmeta's technology

Transmeta

Transmeta has licensed its LongRun and low-power chip technologies to graphics chip giant Nvidia for a one-time fee of $25 million. Nvidia is hoping tackle power consumption issues that dog its high-performance chips.

Transmeta, an erstwhile chip vendor turned intellectual property supplier, said Nvidia was granted a nonexclusive license to Transmeta's Long Run and LongRun2 technologies "and other intellectual property for use in connection with Nvidia products."

The agreement grants to Nvidia a license to all of Transmeta's patents and patent applications and covers "advanced power management and other computing technologies," according to a statement from Transmeta.

LongRun2 technology is a suite of advanced power management and leakage control technologies.

Nvidia has always emphasized performance over power efficiency: its chips are fast but power hungry. Nvidia needs Transmeta's low-power technologies to better meet the requirements of the laptop and handheld markets, Nvidia spokesperson Derek Perez said.

"(Transmeta's) LongRun technologies for advanced power management and transistor leakage control have shown proven value in the market," Perez said. "You'll see us leverage this technology to improve the power/performance metrics of our GPUs moving forward."

Recently Nvidia has been grappling with overheating problems in laptops that use its graphics processors. On July 2, Nvidia released a "Business Update" that addressed a defect centered on "weak die/packaging material" in certain versions of Nvidia graphics silicon used in laptops. The die refers to the chip itself and the packaging is what encases the chip.

After this announcement, both Hewlett-Packard and Dell published lists of laptops that were affected by the flaw.

Transmeta, formerly a supplier of low-power x86 processors, now develops and licenses microprocessor technologies and related intellectual property. The company filed a lawsuit against Intel in October 2006 alleging that the latter infringed upon Transmeta's patents. Transmeta later settled with Intel for $250 million.

Transmeta is presently focused on developing and licensing advanced power management technologies and licensing its computing and microprocessor technologies to other companies.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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