Oak Technology

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Oak Technology was an American supplier of semiconductor chips for sound cards, graphics cards and optical storage devices such as CD-ROM, CD-RW and DVD. It achieved success with optical storage chips and its stock price increased substantially around the time of the tech bubble in 2000. [1] After falling on hard times, in 2003 it was acquired by Zoran Corporation. [2]

Oak Technology helped develop the ATAPI standard and provided the oakcdrom.sys CD-ROM driver that was ubiquitous on DOS-based systems in the mid-1990s.


Oak Technology, Inc was founded in 1987 and was based in Sunnyvale, California, USA. During the late 1980s through the early 1990s, Oak was a supplier of PC graphics (SVGA) chipsets and PCBs. Oak Technology also supplied mother board chipsets - a PS2 compatible chipset and the Oaknote chipset for notebooks. Oak enjoyed modest success in the value segment (low-end) of the market, but without an effective Windows accelerator, ultimately failed to remain competitive.

In 1994, Sun Microsystems decided to change the name of their new language from Oak to Java because Oak was already trademarked by Oak Technology.[3]

The company had a dominant position early on in the market for semiconductors for CD-ROM drives (around 1995) and later regained a prominent position in optical storage chips as the market transitioned to recordable/rewritable technology, resulting in substantial revenue growth and stock price appreciation at the height of the tech bubble in 2000.[1]

However, the company could not maintain growth and the stock price declined substantially, including a drop by more than half on 19 June 2002.[4]

It then acquired the pioneering digital TV chip company Teralogic at the end of 2002 [5] whose technology would later contribute to Zoran's DTV chip development after Zoran acquired Oak Technology in 2003. [2]

Graphics products[edit]


OTI037C - 8-bit VGA chipset, with up to 256KB of DRAM. Provided support for VGA, EGA & CGA display modes. Most are only able to do standard VGA modes. (i.e. up to 320x200x256 and up to 640x480x16).

OTI057/067 - ISA SVGA chipsets. Supports up to 512KB of DRAM (usually 70/80 ns).

OTI077 - Enhanced version of the OTI067. Includes support for 1MB and up to 65MHz dot clock. Capable of resolutions up to 1024x768x256 colors in non-interlaced mode, and up to 1280x1024x16 colors interlaced.

OTI087 - One of the first VLB chipsets available. Has a 16-bit external data path, and a 32-bit internal memory controller data path. It features an improved, local-bus compatible host interface controller with read and write caching capabilities similar to those implemented on Tseng ET4000AX graphics chips, along with some acceleration hardware: register-based color expansion, hardware cursor, 16-bit graphic latch and some other new (for its time) features.[6] Maximum BIOS resolutions are 1024x768x256 non-interlaced and 1280x1024x256 interlaced. Maximum dot clock is 80 MHz, but is usually coupled with the OTI068 clock generator capable of frequencies up to 78 MHz. This chipset supports up to 2MB of 70/70R ns DRAM.

A modified version, OTI087X, was implemented on many Weitek P9000-based graphics boards as a companion VGA controller; unfortunately, the chip was typically configured with a narrow 8-bit data path to its own dedicated VGA memory, resulting in sub-par VGA mode performance.

Spitfire - OTI 64105/64107 - 64-bit DRAM chipset. Provides 2D/GUI acceleration features comparable to other 64-bit accelerators of its time.

Spitfire - OTI 64111 - 64-bit PCI/ISA 2D chipset with integrated 135MHz RAMDAC. DRAM and EDO supported.

Eon - OTI 64217 - Supports EDO and SGRAM. PCI chipset, 64-bit memory bus.

Warp 5 - OTI 64317 [7] [8] - During the late 1990s, Oak was developing their first and only 2D/3D graphics accelerator chip. Warp 5 was to be a tile-based deferred renderer (TBDR), similar to PowerVR's chipsets. In the same vein as the S3 ViRGE chip, the Warp 5 was pin-compatible with a 2D-only predecessor. The chip was never released because ATI acquired the technology. It was Oak's final mainstream graphics chip development effort.

This graphics processor was based on a region concept and had many similarities to Microsoft's Talisman architecture. The chip processed each region at a time and did on chip z-sorting and anti-aliasing. As a result, the chip did 24-bit floating point Z, sub-pixel anti-aliasing, order independent translucency, non-linear fogging and atmospheric effects and MIP-Mapping. Typically, such region based architectures are gated by the number of polygons that can be processed per region, but Oak claimed that there were no such limitations in the WARP 5.

The specifications included:

Optical storage products[edit]

Oak sold millions of chip solutions for CD-ROM, CD-R/RW, DVD-ROM and DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drives, primarily for the PC market.


  1. ^ a b "Interview with John Edmunds". The Wall Street Transcript. 2000-08-03. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  2. ^ a b "Zoran to buy Oak Tech for $358 mln in stock, cash". www.marketwatch.com. 2003-05-03. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  3. ^ Kieron Murphy (1996-04-10). "So why did they decide to call it Java?". javaworld.com. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  4. ^ "Oak Technology Shares Fall". The New York Times. 2002-06-20. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  5. ^ "Oak to Acquire TeraLogic for $38M". EDN. 2002-10-08. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  6. ^ http://corbatech.sourceforge.net/appleII/SecondSight_OTI087.pdf
  7. ^ "Oak Warp 5 Review by Rage's Hardware". n.d. Retrieved 2005-12-26.
  8. ^ "Video Card Benchmark Page by Rage's Hardware". n.d. Retrieved 2005-12-26.

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