London Graphics chips specialist 3Dlabs Inc., Ltd., is planning a spinout from its owner, Creative Labs, and has started sampling selected designers with its first media processor, the result of a project announced earlier this year when the company exited the workstation graphics chip business to focus on digital media silicon.
Creative Labs acquired 3DLabs in June 2002. It was founded in 1994 as a management buyout of Dupont Pixel Systems and currently most of its R&D and management staff is based in locations in Egham and Bristol, England.
"Creative has approved the spinout and feels it is the best solution for its shareholders, and we are now talking to potential investors as we move back to our roots of being a fabless chip company. We hope the transaction will be completed by next April," Hock Leow, president of 3Dlabs told EE Times Europe .
The company has also renamed itself 3Dlabs Semiconductor.
Its first product, announced Tuesday (Nov.28) is the DMS-02, which is based on a multi-core architecture including a fully programmable array of floating-point processors, and is targeted at portable media players, video surveillance equipment, portable navigation including GPS, and high-end mobile handsets.
The company says it is the first handheld digital media silicon capable of HD 720p (progressive) H.264 video playback. The processing elements can perform video, image, audio, 2D/3D graphics and signal processing tasks and provide the flexibility to adapt to emerging standards and applications, including software GPS, software defined radio, digital media broadcast and physics processing for game engines.
The multi-core architecture uses two ARM 926EJ cores and currently runs Linux, but is OS independent and can operate on systems such as WinCE or Nucleus.
The device incorporates 24 floating-point processing elements, multi-level caches, three bi-directional video stream ports, 32 or 64-bit mobile memory for up to 1.6 GBytes/s bandwidth and peripheral interfaces to LCDs, CMOS sensors, IDE disks, USB OTG, flash memory and audio DACs.
The first and also now available Software Development Kit for the DMS-02 supports embedded Linux 2.6.
"With the DMS-02 we are delivering staggering levels of performance, flexibility and competitiveness on an array running at 100 MHz, which is great for low power but also gives us incredible scalability in terms of performance and capabilities as we migrate to different process nodes," said Tim Lewis, sales and marketing director of 3Dlabs.
The device will be made using a 130-nm process by a fab that Leow describes as "a Creative Labs partner". He adds Creative itself will use the media processor in a forthcoming product, but he would not elaborate on the nature of the device.