back to article Intel pulls out hard cash to gobble virtual CPU upstart Soft Machines

Intel is in the process of acquiring Soft Machines Inc, a Santa Clara-based chip designer, according to two people familiar with the matter. Soft Machines' claim to fame is its VISC processor architecture – that's Variable Instruction Set Computing. VISC processors contain a bunch of physical cores that are presented to …

  1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    Loss cutting

    This looks like a typical SV scenario where the VC's don't see much of a future for the company and are cutting their losses while they still can. Must mean Soft Machines has at least some IP, as the company itself doesn't have any other assets.

  2. Alan J. Wylie


    Reminds me of Transmeta and their Code Morphing Software: another company from Santa Clara that never reached profitability.

    1. Alan J. Wylie

      Re: Transmeta

      One of their vice-presidents was previously Executive Vice President at Transmeta:

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A friend that worked there was miffed that a board member, Marco Chisari, paid himself a $1 million bonus as part of the deal. Even though employees got little and were whipped constantly to get through tape out and other activities. Not exactly taking care of the team.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If I had a nickel...

      If I had a nickel for every time I've seen this type of behavior in SV, I'd be a billionaire. My favorite was a publicly traded wireless, CCP, WAN & HPA chip company where I knew the VP of the only profitable part of the company, with about 1/5th of the employees but generated 90%+ of the revenue. The company went through a multi-year rough patch, and when it finally pulled through and was about to post it's first profitable quarter in a couple of years, the CEO & CFO gave themselves big bonuses that, if awarded, made that quarter a loss too. My friend refused to sign off on the financials & left (to a bigger & vastly more successful company), and the old company basically struggled along with losses or break even due to the incompetent CEO & CFO until it was acquired in a fire sale a few years later.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not FAST enough

    Of course it's going to be unable to compete on its own. Great idea, but, with the same issue that all emulators have: Not FAST enough. Even dirt-cheap years-old 'original' chips that it's emulating are going to run faster. A sell-out is not surprising, neither is the low low price.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I heard they had a bigger offer some time ago. But that offer didn't have enough cash up-front and there was no way to execute on what was promised. We've been seeing their employees interview for a while. They've had a lot of turn-over and heard they were desparate. Sounds like they found a way to pay back the investors and a few people at the top will make out. From what I gather, the Linley specs are pure marketing.

  6. Mage Silver badge

    Neither Fish nor Fowl

    It's an interesting idea, but unless you really need x86 and ARM instructions in the same chip what is the point? It would be a very niche market and only of value in a Full Fat SoC with GPU and all I/O shared, maybe on a MS Surface Phone/Tablet able to run real Windows programs and Android Playstore Apps.

    Performance, power consumption and cost is going to be poorer than simply a regular x86 SoC with an ARM core added or vice versa and much poorer than either a dedicated ARM or x86.

    Perhaps Intel can find something useful in the IP. I doubt the staff will be employed long, though some may find suitable positions in Intel. Certainly I can't see the value of anyone other than Intel buying them. Not even AMD or the Chinese, it's too niche.

  7. Stuart21551

    Inventors - do not trust intel

  8. Stuart21551

    Do you have some evidence that inventors should trust intel?

    I'm all ears!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Few more details from a contact there. Quite a few people left already. But a bunch more are on the way out as soon as they get a pay out. Some of the money is escrowed until later. But the sentiment is that they'll never see the rest. S.M. provided Intel a lot of "hot air" specs. People leaving don't want to be left accountable. Some are just burned out.

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