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Novafora, a startup attempting to develop video processors, on Wednesday said that it had completed of Transmeta Corp. Separately, Intellectual Ventures announced that it partly acquired Transmeta’s patent portfolio from Novafora and will be able to license these technologies to third parties. 

“With the completion of our acquisition of Transmeta, we are now focusing on putting its innovative technology to work. The addition of Transmeta’s power management technology to our video processor will enable us to target Novafora’s products to the broadest range of video-oriented devices,” said Zaki Rakib, chief executive officer of Novafora.

Novafora acquired Transmeta for $255.6 million in cash and the day the transaction was formally closed it sold part of Transmeta’s patent portfolio to Intellectual Ventures, an intellectual property licensing firm, for an undisclosed sum. The portfolio contains 140 patents as well as and a substantial number of pending patent applications.

“The acquisition of the Transmeta semiconductor patents augments one of the most comprehensive patent portfolios in the semiconductor field, which now includes more than 2000 patents. This benefits our current and potential licensees by providing more access to innovation and greater opportunity for commercial success,” said Paul Reidy, vice president of semiconductor licensing at Intellectual Ventures. 

With the completion of these two transactions, the technologies developed by Transmeta for more than a decade will be used further through two distinct routes:

  • Novafora’s improving its own proprietary designs by using some of the technologies invented by Transmeta.
  • Intellectual Ventures providing other companies with access to Transmeta’s former patent rights under non-exclusive licensing terms.

The portfolio Intellectual Ventures got contains relatively young patents; many were issued in the last few years. Transmeta licensed these patents to several of the largest microprocessor companies to generate revenue of approximately $300 million. The company was a pioneer in low-power microprocessor technology, “code morphing” techniques, and very long instruction word design architecture. With the acquisition Intellectual Ventures have a patent portfolio to create a new central processing unit.

“[The additional patents] cover inventions in high-performance, low-power, and embedded processors. Some of the recently issued patents detail some of the most interesting breakthroughs in microprocessor architecture we’ve seen in the last decade or so,” added Mr. Reidy. 

Transmeta used to develop ultra low-power VLIW microprocessors that could be compatible with x86 instruction set through the so-called code-morphing software. However, due to low performance of those chips, they have never gained popularity.

Tags: Novafora, Transmeta, VLIW, Intellectual Ventures


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