Intel claimed to have squeezed IBM to dump Transmeta
But Transmeta gains Compaq as consolation prize
IBM's decision to dump its planned Crusoe-based ThinkPad 240 had nothing to do with benchmarks, and everything to do with Intel, according to sources close to Transmeta. Quanta, which was to build the machines, was surprised when the project was abruptly cancelled; one Transmeta partner who declined to be named told The Register: "It was on schedule, fully functional, and IBM were very happy with it."
Taipei sources are adamant that Intel put the squeeze on IBM. The company - which you'll recall was recently entirely vindicated in an antitrust case - is claimed to have told Big Blouse that Intel CPUs and chipsets might be in desperately short supply. Even more so, for even longer, that is.
Our anonymous Transmeta partner also asks for a history of similar offences on Chipzilla's part to be taken into account. "It happened on a Cyrix Media GX project I was involved in a while back. Intel offered us a special deal if we cut the Cyrix design."
In addition to the alleged influence of Intel's alleged "oppressive thumb" (TM Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson), IBM's thinking on the Crusoe 240 may have been changed by Transmeta's volte face on licensing, which was revealed back in September. Technology licences granted to IBM in 1997 and Toshiba in 1998 gave the two companies the right to manufacture and market x86-compatible products based on Transmeta technology.
Transmeta bought back these licences, leaving the two with the rights to build and sell Transmeta chips, but without the ability to use Transmeta technology in their own x86-compatible designs. IBM's deal was terminated substantially in advance of the Crusoe 240 project, but the change wasn't widely known until early September, and Quanta's contract to build the machines seems to have been canned towards the end of that month.
There is, however, a likely consolation prize for Transmeta - Compaq. Compaq was an early investor in Transmeta, and towards the middle of this year said that it was investigating Transmeta technology; since then, silence.
But next month the company is being tipped to roll with a Transmeta portable, produced for it by a major Taiwanese manufacturer. We understand however that this partner is not jilted IBM partner and Transmeta backer Quanta, which doesn't seem to be having a particularly good Q4, so far. ®
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