Intel takes over ARM chip developer - ZiiLabs

    Intel announced a deal with Creative Technology to acquire ZiiLabs, a $ 50 million subsidiary of Creative Technology, a developer of the ZMS-40 and ZMS-20 multi-core ARM chips that have been used in various Android devices: tablets media players such as Creative Zii Egg and other devices.

    ZiiLabs is known for introducing the ZMS-40 100-core SoC chip in January 2012. And in the mobile device market, ZiiLabs GPU solutions compete with PowerVR graphics chips developed by Imagination Technologies.

    According to the terms of the agreement, out of $ 50 million, about 30 million was paid for the fixed assets and engineering resources of ZiiLabs, and the rest for patents and licenses for ZiiLabs GPU technologies.

    The latest ZiiLabs development, the ZMS-40 100-core SoC chip, combines the 1.5 GHz 4-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor (with Neon multimedia units) and an array of 96 simpler and less universal StemCell computing cores.
    StemCell cores are an energy-efficient SIMD architecture, peak performance in 32-bit floating point calculations is 50 GFLOPS, the cores of which work as GPUs and can be used to process video, images and audio, to accelerate 3D and 2D graphics and other multimedia tasks (supported by OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenCL 1.1) - see article: “ZiiLabs introduced the“ 4 + 96-core ”ZMS-40 processor” .

    Previously, Intel used the PowerVR technology developed by Imagination Technologies as the built-in GPU for desktop processors and also tried to release its discrete GPU accelerator based on the Intel x86 instruction architecture - a famous Intel Larrabee project that degenerated into the new Intel Many Integrated Core (Intel MIC) architecture recently introduced 60-core Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors (see: “Intel Xeon Phi 5110P coprocessor” ), achieving peak performance in double-precision calculations in 1 TFLOPS.

    In general, today Intel is showing great interest in developing multi-core processors in which it wants to use 100 cores, and primarily these multi-core processors will be aimed specifically at the server market (where the Xeon Phi coprocessor is aimed today and where supercomputers now most often use GPGPU- accelerators like NVIDIA Tesla K20 or AMD FirePro S10000), and it is obvious that the Intel x86 instruction architecture is not very suitable for this. Perhaps that is why Intel decided to take advantage of innovative developments and patents of ZiiLabs.

    There are a lot of questions for which Intel needed an array of StemCell cores from ZiiLabs:
    1. Will Intel use ARM cores in its future multi-core processors with ZiiLabs technologies (like in ZMS-40) or will it replace them with its Intel x86 cores?
    2. In general, will ZiiLabs developments for conventional desktop processors be used as an integrated GPU accelerator or will they be left solely to develop super-parallel multi-core processors for GPGPU computing (such as Xeon Phi) for the server market?
    3. Or maybe AMD’s approach to creating AMD Fusion architectureturned out to be correct and now Intel decided to develop its own APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) which will use modern Intel Core iX cores + ZiiLabs StemCell array of cores? And as a result, perhaps soon discrete GPU accelerators will not be needed at all for desktop computers.
    4. Or maybe Intel still decides to use ZiiLabs to release its own discrete GPU accelerator competing with discrete GPUs from NVidia and AMD?

    What do you think about it?

    Links to the news under discussion:
    * "Intel buys British ZiiLabs for $ 50 million" ;
    * Website Company Inc ZiiLABS .

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