updated 09:20 am EST, Thu January 8, 2009
Creative today finally confirmed the nature of the Zii. The one-time mystery device is now known to be a processor platform based on the notion of very generalized, software-based cores known as Processing Elements: the "stemcell" element from earlier teasers refers to an ability to repurpose any of the cores for a particular task. The process mimics the unified shaders processors of current video cards and is said to provide supercomputer-like acceleration without needing a large processor or a large amount of energy.
The initial Zii chip is the ZMS-05, a system-on-a-chip design that includes two ARM cores with all the necessary controllers built-in. While not individually powerful, many of the processors can be teamed up to produce a much faster device. An example system known as the Teraflop Accelerator achieves its namesake level of floating-point calculations per second while covering less surface area than letter-sized paper and using less power than a typical desktop PC. Creative reckons that the platform can scale into the petaflop range before it bogs down.
The ZMS-05 is already in production and should translate soon to production hardware from third-party companies, including well-known computer hardware maker MSI. It's not known whether any of these will be available to home users or what their roles will be. Creative itself also hasn't divulged any plans to produce end products of its own using Zii as the foundation.