First Read

A first take on enterprise IT technology news and events.

So Long, Transmeta

So Transmeta is up for sale, a move reported by eWEEK's Scott Ferguson and one that will mark the end of an innovative processor company that turned its attention to battery life and energy consumption several years before "green IT" became a popular industry phrase. The move can't be considered unexpected, and it won't create much of a ripple through the industry. That said, Transmeta's passing deserves attention.

For the most part, not much has been heard from the company since it announced in 2005 that it was stopping production of its Crusoe and Efficeon chips in favor of gaining revenue through licensing its intellectual property, particularly its LongRun and LongRun2 technology, which let users dynamically manage such aspects as frequency and voltage.

Up to that point, Transmeta officials had spent millions developing energy-efficient chips to meet the growing demand in the mobile computing space, and later the embedded market. However, the company was never able to gain much traction in the market, as evidenced by the millions of dollars it was losing on a quarterly basis by the time of its 2005 decision. But the company did make enough noise to fuel the discussion around energy efficiency and spur Intel to start addressing the issue of power consumption.

Transmeta was an interesting company that offered innovative technology. For a reporter, it was also a strange company to cover at times. Even as it tried to carve a space for itself in the highly competitive processor space, its executives played all its cards close to the vest. They were all pretty smart dudes, but they would say very little during briefings, even those interviews that they had initiated, and at times would decline to comment on wider industry trends, despite the urgings of frustrated PR folks to open up a bit. The executives acted as though Transmeta was Intel, rather than a small company desperately chasing Intel. That probably wouldn't have changed the eventual outcome, but it probably didn't help them at the time. Name recognition never came easily for Transmeta, though it did have some success overseas.

Still, as I've said about AMD in the past, competition has always been good for Intel, and Transmeta was no different. The company hit on a growing issue in an industry that was beginning to see rapid growth in mobile computing, and Intel smartly took notice. That was inevitable, and eventually spelled doom for the little company.

So goodbye, Transmeta. You gave it a good shot. It was good having you around, however briefly.