David Ditzel

CEO, Transmeta

David R. Ditzel is the rare technologist who not only likes to be on the theoretical leading edge, but the contentious firing line as well.

He is currently contending that only through a combination of his firms Crusoe hardware and software will effective mobile devices be built for the Internet.

Crusoe offers its own blend of low energy consumption and power management that may yet prove just right for small-battery devices. It has already been incorporated into Fujitsu and Sony laptops, and was a candidate to power the IBM ThinkPad 240 up until IBM substituted an Intel chip.

In January, a group of former Compaq Computer executives formed a new server company, RLX Technologies, to take advantage of the Transmeta chip.

Whatever Crusoes future, Ditzel has again challenged the industry to think outside its preconceptions and try something new. As a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, he co-authored the 1980 paper, The Case for Reduced Instruction Set Computing, which proposed that many simple instructions could replace Intels complex instruction set in chip design.

Ditzel was the chief architect of AT&T Bell Labs first reduced instruction set computing chip. In 1987, he left AT&T for Sun Microsystems, where he became director of the SPARC Labs and chief technical officer. He founded Transmeta in 1995 to implement a low-energy chip with a software translator of the Intel x86 instruction set.