Exclusive: Transmeta flirting with AMD and 1GHz

The hard-charging chip maker is close to a deal with AMD... and the 1GHz speed barrier. Should Intel be worried?

As the old saying goes, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Transmeta are about to announce a relationship.

The chip manufacturers are expected to soon announce the scope of cooperation, according to AMD chairman and chief executive Jerry Sanders. However, Sanders remained mum on the details.

However, sources say the two companies might swap patents in a manner similar to AMD's past patent-swapping deal with Motorola.

Transmeta is particularly interested in AMD's Lightning Data Transfer technology, sources said.

LDT is a high-speed processor interconnect technology created to be AMD's new bus technology. It provides up to a 20-fold increase in bandwidth and will be used for input/output, coprocessing and multi-processing functions. LDT will see use later this year in forthcoming chip sets for Athlon processors.

It is unclear when the deal will be announced, but Sanders indicated, after an interview with ZDNet News, that it would be soon.

It has been a busy second quarter for Transmeta. The once-secretive chip maker announced plans on Thursday to go public.

Earlier in the week Transmeta chief executive David Dietzel revealed details on the company's latest Crusoe processor for notebook PCs, the TM5600, running at speeds of up to 800MHz. A follow-on to the TM5600, the TM5800, will reach gigahertz speeds in the first half of next year.

The company also recently landed a licensing deal with Sony.

Sony will use a Crusoe chip in its forthcoming VAIO C-1 notebook, due later in the year. Sony also plans to use AMD chips.

But that's not all Transmeta has up its sleeve.

The company, according to its S-1 filing with the United States Securities Exchange Commission, has also established close relationships with IBM and Toshiba

That Transmeta is working with IBM is no secret. IBM's Microelectronics division is currently manufacturing Transmeta's Crusoe chips.

However, IBM also licensed Transmeta's chip technology in December 1997, and Toshiba followed suit in February 1998.

Initially, the agreements gave IBM and Toshiba the ability to manufacture x86-compatible chips using technology acquired from Transmeta.

"Under these agreements, we received licence fees, access to technology, engineering and test services, mask sets and wafer and other production services and granted IBM and Toshiba rights to manufacture and market x86-compatible products incorporating the licensed technology," the S-1 form stated.

Transmeta, however, reacquired those rights it granted to IBM and Toshiba for cash and stock.

"[Now] IBM and Toshiba retain a licence to manufacture, market and sell non-x86 compatible products incorporating the licensed technology," the S-1 form states. "We are not entitled to any future licence fees under these licence agreements, and we do not expect to receive licence revenue from any other party."

Go to Pt II/ Climbing the megahertz ladder

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