Dell's cosy relationship with Intel, and a little carelessness with secret files, is causing the company serious grief with Transmeta, a usually reliable source alleges. "Dell has been calling Transmeta every week for the last two months," he says, but Transmeta won't return the calls.
According to our source Dell's problem dates back some way, to the time when Transmeta was hawking its wares around the PC business. "It appears that Dell 'shared' all its Transmeta info with Intel," he says. "Transmeta found out about this and was not too happy, cutting off Dell from all information, since giving information to Dell is 'like giving it to Intel.'"
Naturally, we at The Register are sure that a fine upstanding company like Dell would never disclose information given to it under NDA, so the story must surely be entirely untrue. Nevertheless, our source - who seems remarkably well informed in a number of other Transmeta-related areas - insists that Dell is increasingly desperate to be allowed into the tent. It has gone to the lengths of commissioning Quanta, the Taiwanese company that was to have built IBM's Transmeta machines, to modify one of its boards so that Dell can evaluate it.
Transmeta itself isn't supporting Dell on this, and seems to be taking the lofty view that it's got quite enough business to handle already. IBM's defection could conceivably change this, as a replacement top tier customer might now be handy. But Transmeta does have Compaq coming on board next month. We understand that the Taiwanese outfit building the Compaq machines will be Mitac.
The notion of Dell actively trying to deal with Transmeta is however intriguing. Historically Dell maintains very close relations with both Intel and Microsoft, and is careful not to offend Chipzilla by, for example, using AMD chips. If IBM backed off Transmeta in order to avoid trashing its Intel relationship, then one would expect Dell to be subject to similar, probably even greater, pressure.
Several sources we've heard from since our previous story on the subject have insisted that it was politics, not benchmarks, that killed the Transmeta ThinkPad. IBM Japan, which is all too aware that its local rivals are moving into Transmeta big-time, did the design work on the machines, and is not best pleased that the US cancelled the project. "IBM Japan is still a little pissed with HQ in NC since they are going to get their butts kicked by all the other top vendors," says one.
Humorously, it seems that IBM's PC division initially wanted to explain that they'd decided not to go ahead with the machine because of uncertainty about supply. Until they were forcibly reminded by ballistic IBM Microelectronics execs that the supplier was none other than, er, IBM Microelectronics. ®