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Is that a VMware CTO and Transmeta CEO at your start-up?

Spot the executive

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We'd like to welcome all the chip and server fans out there to a fresh edition of "spot the executive." This week we'll be taking a look at the talented workers at two of our favorite start-ups - Nuova Systems and Montalvo Systems.

Cisco earlier this month laid a golden egg all over Nuova's brass. It handed the hardware upstart $50m and more or less vowed to buy the company in a couple years. That's great news for folks like Mario Mazzola, Luca Cafiero and Prem Jain who are used to sucking from Cisco's generous teat either as executives at the company or as heads of start-ups that Cisco acquires.

But what about the rest of the Nuova crew being touched by Cisco for the very first time?

Well, of special note, we've found VMware's founder and former CTO Ed Bugnion - not pronounced 'bunion' - at Nuova as the start-up's VP of engineering. Bugnion used to be a graduate student of fellow VMware founder and Stanford professor Mendel Rosenblum.

Nuova has managed to keep the nature of its products pretty quiet, although Bugnion's presence helps confirm some of the rumors we've heard. Our sources claim Nuova is working on a virtualization system that would combine server, storage and networking technology in a single box. The system is meant to align with Cisco and Intel's larger strategy around Data Center Ethernet (DCE).

Haven't heard of DCE yet? Well then, you're going to want to give this PDF a read. Broadly, DCE is a proposal to add more virtualization to networks and make it possible for myriad types of traffic to share Ethernet networks. It's not hard to image a company such as Cisco seeing Nuova and DCE as a means of encroaching on the turf of Sun, IBM, HP and Dell. But Cisco would prefer you don't think about that just yet.

Who else is at Nuova? Well, there's Fabio Ingrao, the project lead for server start-up Fabric7. And there's Dan Lenoski, the former VP of engineering at Cisco. You'll also find a bunch of former Juniper, Netillion and Sun Microsystems executives. Quite the talented bunch.

Moby Thick

A chap from Montalvo Systems has confirmed our suspicions that former Transmeta CEO Matt Perry now finds himself as CEO and Prez of the chip start-up. That same fella, however, reckons that our past stories suggesting that Montalvo is working on a low-power x86 chip are complete gibberish.

While we take the criticism to heart, we're struck by the number of people at Montalvo with pasts in the low-power chip field. For example, there's Transmeta ex Carlos Puchol who is now a senior architect at Montalvo and former PA Semi staffer John Tseng. Montalvo also boasts other former Transmeta staff such as software engineer Tim Cheng, engineer Tom Kenville, engineer Anshuman Nadkarni, and Transmeta's old engineering manager Chris Ferris.

Say, whatever happened to the 64-bit x86 chip stuff Transmeta was working on?

To our critic's point, Montalvo does seem awfully stocked on the server front for a company meant to be beavering at a mobile processor. It has a ton of former Azul employees and some Fabric7 folks of its own.

Or, you could take Montalvo at its word and believe the first line of the company's job application, "Montalvo Systems is a semiconductor startup headquartered in Santa Clara, CA and is developing a complex high-performance media processor targeted at portable applications." ®

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