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Intel snatches server deal from Transmeta

One of chipmaker Transmeta's server partners defects to Intel's Pentium III-M chip, saying the Intel processor delivers "the best balance of performance and power consumption."

One of chipmaker Transmeta's server partners has defected to Intel's Pentium III-M chip, saying the Intel processor delivers "the best balance of performance and power consumption."

Amphus, based in San Jose, Calif., announced on Wednesday a new high-density server design called Virgo, based on low-power Intel processors. The company, among others, was originally touted as a win for Transmeta's Crusoe processor last winter.

The high-density server market has drawn increasing interest because it allows data centers to pack many more servers into much less space than traditional servers. The new type of units, in which "blades" containing an autonomous server are packed into a standard-sized 2U unit, are often based on low-power laptop processors such as Pentium III-M or Crusoe chips to decrease heat output and power consumption--a real concern in California, with its rolling blackouts.

Amphus and Intel will jointly promote the new server design to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and ODMs (original design manufacturers), who will be able to begin volume production of Virgo-based products by the fourth quarter.

"We evaluated currently available low-power processors for the Virgo platform and, through rigorous testing, we concluded that Intel's low-voltage processors deliver the best balance of performance and power consumption today," said Henry Fung, Amphus' chief executive, in a statement.

He noted that the Intel chips will allow future Virgo products to offer symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) capabilities. Crusoe does not have multiprocessing capabilities, and Transmeta says it has no plans to produce a multiprocessing chipset.

"We have had discussions with Amphus as we have on an ongoing basis with many companies in many market segments," said a Transmeta spokesperson. Amphus is not a revenue generating company for Transmeta and is not listed as an OEM customer on Transmeta's Web site, the spokesperson said.

The chip startup was initially praised for its Crusoe chip, which uses a technique called code-morphing to run standard Intel-compatible code while consuming less power. But Intel, along with Advanced Micro Devices, quickly fought back with new software for reducing laptop power consumption.

The Pentium III-M, code-named Tualatin, launched last week using an advanced 0.13-micron manufacturing process to reduce power consumption and heat emission. Most PC processors are currently manufactured to 0.18-micron specifications.

Staff writer Matthew Broersma reported from London.