Chip maker Transmeta Corp. is licensing its technology that controls power consumption and leakage in its processors to semiconductor manufacturer NEC Electronics Corp.
As part of the announcement Thursday, NEC Electronics officials also said that the company has taken an equity stake in Transmeta, buying a small percentage of the 25 million shares sold during a common-stock offering in December.
The deal is "a very exciting endorsement of Transmetas technology," said Arthur Swift, senior vice president of marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker.
Tokyo-based NEC Electronics will use Transmetas LongRun2 technology in future generations of its semiconductor products spanning the 90-nanometer, 65-nm and 45-nm processes.
Transmeta specializes in making energy-efficient processors designed to lower power consumption and increase battery life. With its Crusoe chips, Transmeta introduced LongRun, a technology that enabled the chip to dynamically control the frequency and voltage in the processor. With the release last year of its new Efficeon processor, Transmeta demonstrated LongRun2, which now controls transistor leakage from the chips as well as frequency and voltage, Swift said.
As more transistors are put on smaller chips, the problem of leakage is increasing, Swift said.
"This looming leakage problem might actually cause products to be slower … and bigger," he said. "The problem of leakage has the potential to slow down innovation."
The controls in LongRun2 that dynamically change the frequency and voltage also control the buildup of heat, according to Transmeta officials.
Swift said the deal with NEC Electronics is nonexclusive and that there has been "considerable" interest in the LongRun technology from a number of other companies.