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Intel getting Creative, slowly dropping Imagination

Posted: 26 Nov 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:licence? patents? GPU? Atom processors? PowerVR?

Intel is paying $50 million to multimedia hardware company Creative Technology to licence certain patents belonging to Creative subsidiary ZiiLabs Inc. Ltd. and to acquire its U.K. subsidiary ZiiLabs Ltd., formerly known as 3DLabs Ltd.

The move by Intel is said to be part of efforts to de-emphasise the use of PowerVR graphics cores licensed from Imagination Technologies Group in future Atom processors.

The deal includes $20 million to Creative Technology Ltd. (Singapore) for the licensing of technologies including ZiiLabs graphics processing unit (GPU) technology and $30 million for the acquisition of the U.K. based design team. This design team is engaged in, primarily on behalf of ZiiLabs Inc. Ltd., the development of ZMS chips for Creative.

Creative acquired 3DLabs Inc. in 2002 for about $170 million, at the time the company was a Nasdaq-listed developer of graphics chips for workstations but with much of its engineering base still in the U.K..

In February 2012 Creative began sampling the 100-core ZMS-40 media processor aimed at Android platforms with high graphical and multimedia processing requirements.

"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 strengththe designing and marketing of more innovative and exciting products for our customers," said Sim Wong Hoo, CEO of Creative Technology, in a statement. "We will be engaging in discussions to further monetise this valuable collection of 100-plus patents," Sim Wong Hoo added.

Under the terms of the deal ZiiLabs Inc. Ltd. will remain a wholly-owned subsidiary of Creative and will retain ownership of the StemCell media processor patents and will continue to supply ZMS chips.

Intel and Creative have been collaborating on an advanced motion-sensing camera and are in discussions on technology for media-rich tablet products, Creative said. The Creative transaction is expected to close before the end of 2012.

Interestingly 3DLabs licensed its entire patent portfolio to Intel in 1999 for about $7.5 million.

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times

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