Biography: David Ditzel is a Sun Distinguished Engineer and formally Director of the Advanced Systems Group at Sun Microsystems Laboratories, Inc. He is responsible for future technical directions of SPARC and is working on the design of high performance SPARC-based computers. He has been at Sun since 1987, and previously was the principal architect of AT&T's CRISP microprocessor. He helped start the RISC/CISC debate by co-authoring The Case for the Reduced Instruction Set Computer.

David Ditzel is vice chairman, chief technology officer and vice president of marketing of Transmeta Corporation. He founded Transmeta in 1995 to develop his vision for a new kind of computer—one that would learn how to improve its performance and save power as it ran, the first to use advanced software as part of the processor itself. Ditzel has worked in advanced computer design for over 25 years, first as a computer architect and later in management and leadership roles for over 20 advanced processor design efforts. His work first attracted industry wide attention in 1980, when he coauthored “The Case for the Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC).” RISC techniques were subsequently adopted by all major processor vendors.

Before founding Transmeta, Ditzel was director of SPARC Labs and chief technical officer at Sun Microsystems Microelectronics division, where he built the teams for several advanced SPARC processors, extended SPARC to 64-bit addressing, and led a research team in low-power computing. In 1991, he hired most of the former Soviet Union’s supercomputer design team and led these 200 engineers in one of the first joint United States-Russia high-technology projects.

Ditzel came to Sun from AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1987, where he was the chief architect of the CRISP Microprocessor, AT&T’s first RISC chip. Before coming to Bell Laboratories, Ditzel spent 4 years working on the SYMBOL computer. SYMBOL implemented an operating system, compiler and text editor completely in hardware.

David Ditzel, who has published over 30 technical papers in the field of advanced computer design, holds a masters degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelors degree in electrical engineering and a bachelors degree in computer science from Iowa State University. He is a sought-after speaker on computer design and has founded two new conferences, Hot Chips and Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems.

By BBC News Online's Damian Carrington

Transmeta, the secretive computer chip company, have come out into the open with two new chips "explicitly designed for mobile computing".

One of the new processors appears to compete directly with the traditional chips placed in laptop computers. The second is designed for smaller devices devoted to web browsing.

Transmeta team
Linus Torvalds, creator of the operating system Linux which is starting to rival those of Microsoft
CEO Dave Ditzel, formerly chief architect at Sun Microsystems
Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder
George Soros, billionaire financier
The launch of the Crusoe chips was preceded by significant hype, largely because of the heavy-hitting staff line-up.

Launching the chips, CEO David Ditzel explained that the chips were the first to serve instructions to the chip entirely by software. This, he said, meant the chip could be "very simple, very fast and use extremely low power".

Deep sleep

The TM3120 chip is aimed at portable web browsers - a simple, small, touch-activated screen was on display at the news conference. The processor runs at 400MHz, has 100kb of on-chip RAM and has a power management system called Deep Sleep. This allows the device to run in standby mode for weeks, it was claimed.

The second chip, the TM5400, is designed for laptop computers. It runs at 700MHz and has 400kb of on-chip RAM.

Mr Ditzel said: "Most chips in mobile computers today were designed for servers or PCs - they have just been crammed into smaller boxes."

He also announced a partnership with IBM and that the company had appointed staff in Taiwan and Japan, where most chip manufacture takes place.

According to Transmeta, the Crusoe chip promises light devices, which can access the web from anywhere and use all the plug-ins and applications which are found there. They also promise long battery life.

If, as further details emerge, this turns out to be well-founded then consumers may be able to look forward to mobile internet devices as portable as mobile telephones.

Pre-emptive strike

On Tuesday, Intel launched a pre-emptive strike with their own new set of chips designed for mobile computers. It says its 650 megahertz chip is the most powerful processor ever in a laptop and can step down its processor speed to save power when running on batteries.

The more powerful Crusoe appears to outstrip the Intel chip but Intel's share price held steady in New York.

In contrast, shares in ARM Holdings dropped by about 7% in London on Wednesday. The chip design company has significant chip interests in "portable communications, hand-held computing and embedded solutions".

However, Andrew Griffin, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, told BBC News Online that the type of chip architecture Transmeta has developed is very unlike the ARM architecture.

"I think it's unlikely they will be playing in the same space," he said. "I think the share price fall in ARM is unwarranted - it's actually a good time to buy ARM stock."

 

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David Ditzel

Engineer, Billionaire, Founder of Transmeta, also

Vice Chairman, CEO, and Vice President of

Marketing. Formally CEO of Sun MicroSystems