LONDON – ZiiLabs, a fabless chip subsidiary of multimedia hardware company Creative Technology Ltd. (Singapore), has begun sampling the ZMS-40 media processor optimized for Android platforms with high graphical and multimedia processing requirements.
The ZMS-40 is part of a family of SoCs based on a "stem cell-like" architecture. The latest chip doubles the performance or halves the power consumption of the earlier ZMS-20. The chip includes 96 StemCell media processing cores together with a 1.5-GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 and runs Android 4.0, which is also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.
The chip has begun sampling and is implemented for ZiiLabs in 40-nm CMOS by foundry chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
The ZMS-40 is intended for use in tablet computers where it can perform H.264 HP decoding of up to 3840 x 1080 pixels for 1080p 3-D stereo as well as supporting the up-and-coming HEVC standard (also known as H.265). It supports 2560 x 1600 (WQXGA) display resolution and higher-quality video encoding and immersive OpenGL ES graphics.
HEVC can support twice the data compression of H.264 but only by requiring much greater computational power, ZiiLabs said. "We are already working through the draft specifications of High Efficiency Video Coding and expect the flexibility and performance of the ZMS-40 to meet the challenging computation complexity of this emerging codec in order to deliver higher-quality and lower bandwidth." said Tim Lewis, director of marketing at ZiiLabs, in a statement.
The ZMS-40 is compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics and supports accelerated OpenCL 1.1 application development. Other features include a 64-bit memory bus with support for DDR2/3 at 533-MHz for lowest cost and support for LPDDR2 for maximum memory bandwidth and lowest power. The chip also supports 256-bit AES encryption for security requirements.
ZiiLabs also provides a suite of software to complement the standard Android offerings. These apps include: ZiiPhoto, ZiiCamera, ZiiVideo and Creative's Sound Blaster audio effects.
The ZMS-40 also has sufficient computing power to support dual independent displays, the company said. In this usage model a ZMS-40 powered tablet computer can be used to decode and transfer high-resolution television to a TV screen while also browsing the web for information on the tablet.
"The tablet market for China is going to explode, especially with China's recent emphasis on digital textbooks, digital school bags and digital classrooms for all of its students," said Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and CEO of Creative Technology, in a statement. ""The ZMS-40 further allows us to design and develop a breath-taking fourth generation Android tablet aimed squarely at the Chinese market."
ZiiLabs was created to house graphics expertise that partly dates back to the acquisition of 3DLabs in June 2002. 3DLabs was founded in 1994 as a management buy-out of Dupont Pixel Systems and most of its R&D and management staff was based in locations in Egham and Bristol, England.