According to a story running in The Register Sun Microsystems is said to have paid "a bit north of $5m" for the technology assets of Montalvo Systems, a chip start-up outfit which is best known for its work on a low-power x86 processor.
The Register says it has seen a notice supporting the purchase which will become a part of the Sun business unit, although it also suggests that any interest in the x86 IP is nothing more than a red herring and the real interest lies in asymmetrical core design. This is an area where Montalvo has plenty of experience, and it would make sense for Sun to be investing money in being able to run both high and low power cores on a single chip with each handling the specific software it is best suited to. El Reg further speculates that the very fact that Sun mentions assets in the notice is a red flag to suggest Montalvo, as rumoured, has struggled to get much interest in its technology so far. "This is a personnel and patent thing" The Register reporter insists.
Certainly, Montalvo has never really managed to produce a working model for the energy-efficient multicore chip that it has been working so hard on it would appear. This despite the venture cap injection of at least $75 million that has been spent on the project.
According to a Sun statement quoted in the report "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."