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Creative’s Zii MPU has a bright, Android future

Creative’s next-generation Zii “Media-rich Processing Unit” chip is going to power a lot of future products from Creative. But beside regular Sound Blaster cards (will creative rename the series to just “Blaster”?) and Zen multimedia players, Creative plans a great deal of 3rd party products. Capabilities-wise, you can expect ZM-05 and subsequent chips to power various sound, video, network controllers. Recently, companies such as Bigfoot Networks and MSI gave thumbs up to this processor, citing future use in their own products. We heard notes about integration on MSI motherboards and notebooks, but the details were vague.

According to information we managed to gather, Zii processor is designed for multiple operative systems and multiple purposes. On MWC in Barcelona, Creative’s subsidiary ZiiLABS is demonstrating ZM-05 development platform accelerating various multimedia features of Google’s Android, such as picture browsing, audio playback, 800×480 video playback and so on.

Diagram of Zii architecture. Notice the minimal differences between the two.

Diagram of Zii architecture. Notice the minimal differences between the two.

Both DMS-02 and ZM-05 feature two ARM cores and 24 processing units, but the difference lies in the market purpose. DMS-05 is designed for integration into products, while ZM-05 should be the main processing power for discrete products such as already mentioned multimedia players and cellphones.

Creative has a steep mountain to climb, with chips such as Tegra and Intel’s Moorestown, but the company is citing lowest power consumption and almost limitless scalability. It all depends how company can push the product to win as much as 3rd party designs as possible. Native Android support is definitely a nice bonus.