Confirmed: Zii StemCell Computing Is Media-Savvy System on a Chip

Illustration for article titled Confirmed: Zii StemCell Computing Is Media-Savvy System on a Chip

The smoke surrounding Creative's rumored offshoot, ZiiLabs, cleared today at CES, where it was revealed to be a media-application processor developer with a very slick system-on-a-chip, less consumer product than building block for many.


Yeah, I know, you see "StemCell Computing" and you kinda want something goopy and weird that could perhaps, when given enough density, clone a Shakey's pizza shop. But the folks at Creative—including the chairman, my old buddy Sim Wong Hoo—are pretty stoked about this little system on a chip, the ZiiLABS ZMS-05 SoC, which comes out of the acquisition of the company formerly known as 3DLabs.

I suspect this is the last time the mainstream gadget media will hear about Zii directly until there are Zii-powered electronics bopping around, but that might not take long, as the following press release promises a "complete, powerful and energy efficient platform with a very rapid time-to-market."

Dreaming big, they even say that the technology allows "virtually unlimited chaining" to form "a state-of-the- art ‘hypercomputer’ with many petaflops of processing power...100 times smaller, 100 times greener and 100 times lower cost than conventional super computers." Sounds pretty good, in a crazy future's-so-bright sort of way. Good on you, Creative and ZiiLabs—now let's see some dang ZiiToys!!!

Creative Launches the Zii Platform and Ushers in the Era of StemCell Computing
Creative Forms ZiiLABS and Ushers in the Era of StemCell Computing Where Nano-Sized Super Computing Will Be Available in Our Daily Lives through Flexible, Tiny, Powerful and Scalable SoC

CES, Las Vegas, NV - Jan. 8, 2009 — Creative Technology Ltd. today announced the formation of ZiiLABS™ (a wholly owned subsidiary of Creative), with the combination of 3DLABS — which has a 25-year history as a leading innovator in programmable graphics, media and applications processing — and resources drawn from the largest product group in Creative, the Personal Digital Entertainment group.

The formation of ZiiLABS, the launch of the new ZiiLABS ZMS-05 SoC (System-On-Chip) and the new Zii™ Platform today usher in the new era of StemCell Computing™. The new ZiiLABS ZMS-05 SoC (System-On-Chip) will be unveiled and demonstrated from January 8-11 at the Consumer Electronics Show, South Hall booth #30651.

“We have invested a billion dollars and 10,000 man years of R&D effort over the last 25 years in platform solutions,” said Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and CEO of Creative Technology Ltd. “The combination of the technology from 3DLABS and the product development prowess of our Personal Digital Entertainment group delivers a complete, powerful and energy efficient platform with a very rapid time-to-market for our partners – the Zii Platform.”

“We now look to shaping the future of computing with the introduction of the integrated ZMS-05 media-rich processor, and ushering in the new era of StemCell Computing where we will bring the incredible benefits of nano-sized super computing right into our daily lives,” said Hock Leow, president of ZiiLABS.”

This StemCell approach has benefits in terms of:
· Flexibility — Utilizing a breakthrough technology comprising of programmable Processing Elements (PEs) which are basically Software Defined Silicon
· Scalability — 10Gigaflops to Petaflops (1015 floating point operation per second)
· Energy Efficiency — Huge processing power of the ZMS-05 SoC enables it to perform more in less time, equating to low power consumption
· Complete Solution — Ready-for-Market Zii Platform Solutions

Unlimited Flexibility
Stem cells are the basic building blocks of life, possessing the unique ability to develop into the specialized cells and tissues required by organisms to function effectively. Inspired by this concept, the ZMS architecture uses an array of media-optimized Processing Elements (PE) as its stem cells that can instantly develop into any of the specialized acceleration functions required of today’s media rich devices and offering advantages in terms of flexibility, performance and features when compared to the fixed function silicon blocks traditionally used in SoC designs.

Incredible Scalability
The scalability of the ZMS architecture is highlighted in the first Teraflop Accelerator with the footprint of an A4-sized sheet of paper, consuming less power than a desktop PC. By utilizing the virtually unlimited chaining capability of the ZMS chips, a state-of-the- art ‘hypercomputer’ with many Petaflops of processing power can be realized, which can be 100 times smaller, 100 times greener and 100 times lower cost than conventional super computers.

High Energy Efficiency
Due to the compute density of each Processing Element, the ZMS-05 SoC is able to do an immense amount of media processing in far less time — and with far less energy — than taken by standard processors; which translates into longer battery life. Intelligent power control means the speed and power consumption of the processor can be matched to the task in hand and unused features can be turned off completely, put in deep stand-by and reactivated instantly after weeks of shut down, helping to lengthen battery life even further.

Complete Zii Platform Solutions
The ZMS-05 processor combines the media processing array, dual ARM cores and a rich set of integrated peripheral controllers with hardware platforms and advanced SDK and middleware. This will enable Software Developers, OEMs, ODMs and System Integrators to create unlimited possibilities and develop a broad range of highly innovative products.

ZiiLABS Launch Partners
With the excitement about the ZiiLABS platform now public and the ZMS-05 in production, the Company is pleased to be working with many OEM partners worldwide announcing products based on ZMS including: MicroStar International, Perception digital, F&S Electronic, MediaNet, ASTAK, PowerLinux and Grandeye.

For more information, please visit

About Creative
Creative is a worldwide leader in digital entertainment products. Famous for its Sound Blaster® sound cards and for launching the multimedia revolution, Creative is now driving digital entertainment on the PC platform with products like its highly acclaimed ZEN® MP3 and portable media players. Creative's innovative hardware, proprietary technology, applications and services leverage the Internet, enabling consumers to experience high-quality digital entertainment - anytime, anywhere.

About ZiiLABS

ZiiLABS is a worldwide leader in media-rich application processors, hardware platforms and advanced middleware. Its products enable OEMs, ODMs and system integrators to deliver industry-leading devices across a broad range of consumer electronics and embedded markets. Originally founded in 1994 as 3DLABS, the company re-branded and joined with the Personal Digital Entertainment group of Creative Labs to form ZiiLABS in January 2009. ZiiLABS with over 800 R&D engineers today has invested US$1 billion and 10,000 man years in media processing solutions and has offices in the UK, China, USA and Singapore.



After reviewing the datasheet on this thing I can say simply it's one of around 20 similar Taiwan/China multimedia SoC offerings wiht similar or superior capabilities. Actually, for a dual ARM-9 platform, this one has pretty disappointing video processing, as well as limited I/O onboard. Mainly, it has some of the most Stupendously Over-The-Top Hyperbole™ laden marketing behind it I've ever encountered. The chip itself?... move along, nothing important to see here.