Transmeta founder Dave Ditzel leaves company

Dave Ditzel no longer slogging notebooks

Here's a bit of late 90s processor history for you: Dave Ditzel, the founder of Transmeta, has left the company.

Ditzel left the company on April 1, and is right now contemplating starting a new start-up, he told me during a coffee break at the Hot Chips conference taking place at Stanford.

A former Sun Microsystems chip designer, Ditzel shook up the chip world with Transmeta in the late 90s. The company aimed at coming out with an Intel-compatible chip that would consume less power. Ditzel was one of the first execs to warn that power consumption would become a huge problem. The company, quite secretive at the time, attracted big name investors and people like Linus Torvalds, who works in software.

Unfortunately, all didn't work as planned. The performance of the first chip was pretty weak and subsequent versions were late. Potential contracts with customers like Toshiba faded away.

Meanwhile, Intel woke up to power consumption, in part thanks to Transmeta, and came out with a number of energy efficient processors.

Transmeta has had at leave five CEOs and lost hundreds of millions of dollars. It sold most of its chip operations and now tries to license software.

Still, the company helped bring attention to power consumption and Dave was always an entertaining speaker. It was also the last big IPO of the Internet era. The company went public in November 2000.