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Transmeta sues Intel over chip patents

Lawsuit targets Core 2 Duo processors

Low-power chip maker Transmeta has sued Intel, claiming that the Pentium and Core PC processors violate its patents.

The lawsuit, filed in the US, alleges that Intel has violated 10 patents covering processor design- and power-efficiency techniques.

Transmeta is asking the court for damages, royalty payments, and an injunction barring Intel from selling infringing products. Intel's Pentium III, Pentium 4, Pentium M, Core and Core 2 processors violate the patents, Transmeta claims.

The lawsuit comes after the two companies failed to agree to licensing terms, said Transmeta's president and chief executive officer Arthur Swift. "Friendly win-win discussions between the two parties had broken down and we thought it was appropriate now to turn to the courts."

These discussions had been occurring "off and on, for years", he said.

An Intel spokesman declined to comment, saying that company lawyers had not yet had time to review the lawsuit.

Nine of the 10 Transmeta patents invoked in the lawsuit cover basic processor functions like scheduling and addressing instructions on the chip. The tenth patent relates to Transmeta's LongRun technology, which is used to adjust the voltage of the processor, depending on its workload.

Transmeta, founded in 1995, tried and failed to break Intel's stranglehold on the notebook PC market. The company developed software that reduced power consumption, allowing PCs to run longer, but the company's Crusoe processors never caught on with laptop buyers.

Lowering power consumption has become a more important issue for Intel of late, and the chip-making giant has been battling rival AMD to develop faster and cooler microprocessors.

In its first nine years of business, Transmeta, in Santa Clara, California, posted $650m in losses. Last year, the company switched business models and now focuses on licensing its technology.

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