Saturday, May 17, 2008

Zilog Gets An Offer

Those of you in at the start of the personal computer revolution will remember Zilog for its Intel 8080 clone, the Z-80, that was a much better performer than the Intel chip. The Intel 8080 and the Zilog Z-80 were both designed by Federico Fagin. The Z-80 didn't require a special clock chip and it had a lot of neat add on instructions that made writing code easier and made the code perform better and take up less space in memory. It also used fewer clock cycles for some instructions. I upgraded my IMSAI 8080 to a Z-80 processor as soon as I could.

The Z-80 was also the heart of the Sinclair ZX-81 a really cute little computer with a very creative hardware design. As I recall memory address lines were used not just for memory access but also to scan the keyboard. I had one of those and had lots of fun with it. It used a TV set as a monitor.

Zilog is now entertaining a buy out offer from power semiconductor maker IXYS.

MILPITAS, Calif. (AP) - Semiconductor maker Ixys Corp. on Friday made an unsolicited offer to buy Zilog Inc. for $4.50 per share, a 9 percent premium over Zilog stock's $4.14 closing price.

Zilog, also a semiconductor maker, in February said a $4.50 per share offer by remote-control maker Universal Electronics Inc. was too low. Zilog's stock closed at $3.62 the day before that offer.

Zilog said it received the offer and is reviewing it.

Last week, San Jose, Calif.-based Zilog said it narrowed its net loss to $1.9 million, or 11 cents per share, from $3.6 million, or 21 cents per share. Revenue fell 13 percent to $16.7 million.
Compare Zilog's revenue to Intel's billions. They were once a contender.

IXYS makes some very good power semiconductors. With those kinds of transistors the heart of hybrid autos and plug in hybrids business must be very good. The control of power is a very important part of electronics these days. It is the area of aerospace I have the most experience with.


randian said...

I thought Zilog was long ago out of business. Good to see they're still around.

Susan's Husband said...

My recollection is that Zilog failed because they didn't make the shift to micro coded processors, the Z8000 being "random" logic rather than micro coded as the 8086 was. It had a *much* nicer instruction / register set but making it work was a step too far.

Foobarista said...

The Z80 has been used for many years as an embedded processor. It lost the PC wars, but most people probably have at least one Z80 in a gadget in their house somewhere, and many may have several.

Zilog put the Z80 into the public domain, so Toshiba among other companies make Z80s.