Silicon Valley startup aims to make mobile x86 processors

Last month, we reported on VIA's new Isaiah architecture, which could well steal some thunder from Intel in notebooks and mobile devices. The idea of another serious competitor to Intel besides AMD in the mobile x86 space is enticing, but VIA may not be alone. reports on rumors that a Silicon Valley startup called Montalvo Systems is quietly developing an x86 microprocessor aimed at notebooks and ultraportable systems. Little is known about the chip itself so far other than that it's a multi-core design, that it's energy-efficient, and that it could end up being manufactured by Fujitsu.

The lack of publicity surround the project hasn't stopped Montalvo from pocketing $73 million in investments from a variety of venture capital firms. The investors likely have a certain degree of confidence in the industry veterans who run the company, such as Montalvo CEO Matt Perry, who was previously CEO of Transmeta; Montalvo board member Vinod Dham, a former Intel architect from the Pentium days who later joined NexGen and finally AMD; Greg Favor, former chief architect on the AMD K6 processor; and Mike Yamamura, who also worked on the K6 project.

Montalvo has filed a number of patents, although only a few have become public so far. said those patents are generally related to "conserving energy while retrieving data from memory or caches."

An official announcement from Montalvo is expected later this year, at which point the company should pull back the curtain a little and shed some light on its progress. Until then, the company's website is empty except for contact information and a variety of postings for jobs in Santa Clara, California, Boulder, Colorado, and Bangalore, India.

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