Finally, I can call myself an inventor.
I've been inventing things for almost 20 years now, but Montalvo Systems was the first company I worked for that took intellectual property seriously. (That was no coincidence; it was also the first company I worked for where I helped develop the intellectual-property strategy.)
During my years at Montalvo, I came up with quite a few ideas and participated in brainstorming sessions that yielded more ideas. Most of these sessions were limited to Montalvo's own people, but there was one person I brought in to help us as a consultant--Don Alpert, who was the principal architect of Intel's Pentium processor and, possibly less significantly, a member of the editorial board at Microprocessor Report.
Working with three of us from Montalvo--myself and chief architects Greg Favor and Peter Song--Don took the lead in preparing a set of related patent applications describing a new way to design microprocessors.
The first patent from this set was officially issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 17: U.S. patent number 7,389,403, titled "Adaptive computing ensemble microprocessor architecture." So now I'm an inventor de jure, not merely de facto.
The ACE architecture was not part of Montalvo's first-generation product plans, but it represents a more flexible, and potentially a more effective, way to take advantage of the increasing transistor counts available to designers.
I'd like to thank Bennett Smith and Korbin Van Dyke at PatentVentures, our patent agents, for this and many other Montalvo applications. Smith and Van Dyke are highly experienced microprocessor architects, and I think there's no better team in the industry for developing advanced microprocessor patents. It was a great pleasure working with them.
This patent belongs to Sun Microsystems now, the first ripe fruit of that company's acquisition of Montalvo's assets. I have no idea what will happen with the rest of the pending Montalvo applications, or with the disclosures we prepared that hadn't yet been filed with the Patent Office. It's unlikely that Sun will pursue all of these ideas, and it's fairly certain that they won't all turn into issued patents, but I'll be watching to see what happens.
If you want to license U.S. patent 7,389,403, you should contact Sun. If you want to talk about even more modern ways to design a microprocessor, drop me a note.Update-- also issued since this post: US patent 7,412,570