• Intel buys ZiiLABS assets from Creative

    ZiiLABS was formerly known as 3DLabs Ltd., a renowned provider of in-house designed graphics accelerators and software for the professional OpenGL CAD/CAM/CAE markets.As Creative Technology, Singapore-based parent company of ZiiLABS announced on November 19th, they expect to close a deal with chipdesigner and -maker Intel Corporation in the current quarter ending December 2012. The subject of the deal will be various technologies and patents from ZiiLABS as well as engineering ressources from their UK-based headquarter. Intel will pay 50 million US-Dollar altogether and acquire non-disclosed engineering ressources of the UK sudsidiary of Creative Technology.

    While this sounds like your regular boring press release with chipzilla being on a shopping spree, ZiiLABS who will be divested from Creative Technology are none other than former 3DLabs Ltd., makers of the once-famous brand of Wildcat professional graphics cards and thus probably still having a good deal of hard- and software expertise in servicing a professional graphics environment. Something which could come in handy with Intels recently launched Xeon Phi series of co-processors or accelerators.

    Creative assures that it will keep supplying and supporting its shipping line of ZMS media processors including ZMS-20 and ZMS-40, and also says they will retain ownership of the intellectual property upon which ZMS-processors are based, it sounds like this deal is engineers for foundry services. With Intel constantly developing their alien process technology to stay ahead of the curve one generation, this could be exactly the partner Creative Technology needs in order to be/become/stay competitive in a more and more cutthroat business in mobile and digital signal processors (DSPs) where energy efficiency is of utmost importance.

    Intels Senior Fellow Logic Technology Development Mark Bohr said at IDF this last september, his company was already working with strategic partners in terms of foundry business some of whom were not (yet) publicly known. They, however, had no plans as of that day, to get involved in general foundry business, added Bohr, regarding Intel. It will be very interesting to see, whether or not Creative Technology is one of those partners, whose pieces of silicon will come out of Intels foundries in the near future.

    Intel itself however, could use every advantage they can get to combat Nvidias Tesla K20 and K20x accelerators with it's own Xeon Phi series especially in the light of Nvidia having a couple of years of a headstart in the accelerator business and their established Cuda platform.

    Another very feaziible reason could be Intels strive for making inroads at Systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) finally and needing just that little bit of outside help in order to make their future SoCs more competitive with the ones of Qualcomm, Samsung or Apple. Access to a few patents in that area is also not a bad thing.

    For completeness' sake, here's the full press release in quote, just in case Creative Technology changes its website (again) and the links does not work anymore.


    Deal Includes Licensing of Technology and Patents to Intel, Transferring of Certain UK Engineering Resources to Intel

    SINGAPORE - 19 November 2012 - Creative Technology Ltd today announced it has entered into an agreement with Intel Corporation for Intel to license certain technology and patents from ZiiLABS Inc. Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Creative, and acquire certain engineering resources and assets related to its UK subsidiary ZiiLABS Limited (formerly known as 3DLABS Limited).

    The US$50 million deal includes US$20 million to Creative for the licensing of certain technologies to Intel relating to ZiiLABS' high performance GPU technology. The second part of the deal is US$30 million to Creative for the transfer of certain engineering resources and assets in the UK subsidiary to Intel. The UK subsidiary is a design entity engaged in, primarily on behalf of ZiiLABS Inc. Ltd, the development of various silicon solutions, including the ZMS chips for Creative. The transfer of engineering resources and assets will be through the divestment of the UK subsidiary by Creative.

    “As the next generation advanced media processors beyond 28 nanometers become increasingly complex and expensive to develop we must find new models to work with our partners and customers to drive continued product innovation. With this announcement we gain increased flexibility with the ability to partner with multiple semiconductor companies on advanced design and process technologies, allowing us to mitigate risk while maintaining control over the long-term direction of our product portfolio. Moving forward, it will be more cost effective for Creative to outsource to third party contract chip-layout houses on future advanced chips for its products, while at the same time allowing Creative to focus on its core strength - the designing and marketing of more innovative and exciting products for our customers.” said Sim Wong Hoo, CEO of Creative Technology.

    ZiiLABS Inc. Ltd (still wholly-owned by Creative) will continue to retain all ownership of its StemCell media processor technologies and patents, and continue to supply and support its ZMS series of chips to its customers. It will also continue to develop devices incorporating the ZiiLABS ZMS-20 and the ZMS-40 media processors.

    “Creative will continue to retain ownership of its formidable patent portfolio in the field of 3D graphics and media processing. We will be engaging in discussions to further monetize this valuable collection of 100 plus patents.” added Sim Wong Hoo.

    As part of the ongoing cooperation between the two companies, Intel recently partnered with Creative to design and develop an advanced motion sensing camera that can pick up human motion for interaction with high-powered computer games, as demonstrated at the Intel Developers Forum in September 2012. The companies also anticipate continuing their discussion on future technology for media-rich tablet products.
    This transaction is expected to be completed in the current quarter ending December 2012.

    About CreativeCreative 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 with cutting edge audio solutions, premium wireless speakers, wireless head-phones and portable media devices. Today, Creative re-invents the Sound Blaster, which has a user base of over 400 million, with its ground-breaking Sound BlasterAxx that aims at the new mobile networked generation by bridging the multi-worlds of the computer, smartphones, and tablets. Creative's proprietary technologies, innovative hardware, applications and services leverage the Internet, enabling consumers to experience high-quality digital entertainment anytime, anywhere.

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    Creative Technology Ltd August Consulting
    Wynne Leong Yap Meng Lee
    Tel (65) 6895 4120 Tel (65) 6733 8873
    wynne_leong@ctl.creative.com menglee@august.com.sg