Bitboys bought out by ATI

— 10:08 AM on May 2, 2006

Finnish handheld graphics chip design company Bitboys has been purchased by ATI for €35.2 million ($44.3 million). The Finnish firm will now become "fully integrated" into ATI's Handheld Business Unit, and will be the base for a European ATI design center. The move will also provide ATI with new OpenGL ES 2.0- and OpenGL VG 1.0-based solutions for mainstream cell phones. Bitboys CEO Mikko Saari says the purchase will also be beneficial in promoting Bitboys products, and that it is a "classic win-win . . . for both companies."

Many will remember Bitboy's foray into the desktop 3D accelerator market between 1995 and 2001, which resulted in a number of products being announced and never making it to market. Among those, the Glaze3D is likely best known as promising significantly higher performance than the competition due in part to its Xtreme Bandwidth Architecture, which used a 512-bit memory bus and 9MB of embedded DRAM to provide around 12.5GB/s of memory bandwidth. However, a combination of inexperience with real-world graphics chip development, withdrawing partners, and funding problems caused Bitboys to eventually close its Dallas, Texas office and back into the handheld business from its headquarters in Finland.

While the Bitboys purchase will allow ATI to expand its foothold in the handheld segment, it's not the only company pursuing such ventures. In March, NVIDIA purchased Hybrid Graphics, another Finnish company specializing in embedded graphics for handheld devices. NVIDIA had also purchased PACE Soft Silicon, a handheld graphics company this time based in India, a week before. Thanks to Reg Hardware for the tip.

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