A new silicon valley called Montalvo Systems gathered $73 million of venture capital to develop multi-core, energy-efficient x86 processors for ultraportable devices and notebooks.
Among Montalvo Systems' employees are members of AMD, Intel, NexGen and Transmeta. The fabless company hasn't finished a chip design yet but has already filed several patents.
Many of the people behind Montalvo have tangled with Intel before. 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 Advanced Micro Devices, which 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 now largely concentrates on technology licensing. Peter Song, Montalvo's chief architect, earlier founded a company called MemoryLogix, which tried to build low-power Intel-compatible chips. Other current and former employees include Greg Favor (formerly of NexGen and AMD) and Mike Yamamura. (CNET blogger Peter Glaskowsky is chief systems architect for Montalvo and is listed as a co-inventor on two published Montalvo patent applications, but he was not involved in any way in this story. CNET is the publisher of News.com.)
Montalvo is also talking with an established chipmaker to manufacture the chip. The number of chipmakers with legal permission to produce Intel-compatible chips is relatively small and many, such as IBM, have lost money on helping out start-ups in this market. Fujitsu, which makes Intel-compatible Transmeta chips, is one likely candidate.
Good luck Montalvo Systems, you'll need it. Most small companies who tried to compete against Intel in the past weren't really successful, only AMD managed to compete against Intel but currently they're lagging behind.