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Sun Microsystems Acquires Montalvo

Sun Microsystems has bought Montalvo Systems, a chip start-up outfit which is best known for its work on a low-power x86 processor, for over $5 million.

“We believe acquiring these assets will enhance the current and future products we are developing and expect them to contribute to future generations of Sun’s microprocessor technology which will in turn drive additional differentiation for Sun’s Systems products,” Sun said in a statement.

The SPARC technology leader officially closed the deal on April 21, but did not issue a public press release and has not yet disclosed financial terms of the deal.

Montalvo reportedly generated more than $75 million in funds from Silicon Valley venture capitalists, but burned through almost $100M in the initial stages of its business. It recently stated another $100M would be necessary to create a working product for testing. After it was unable to guarantee extra funding at the end of last month, the company cut two thirds of its staff.

Instead of following in the footsteps of AMD and Intel, Montalvo’s chips were supposed to be asymmetric cores, meaning both high-performance and low-performance cores would share the same silicon wafer. This would gradually help reduce power consumption because applications not requiring high amounts of power could be distributed to the low-performance cores, while other applications can be assigned to the high-performance cores.

Rather than try to compete with Intel and AMD in the x86 processor market, Sun will integrate Montalvo’s technology into its own SPARC and UltraSPARC line of microelectronics.