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What does the future hold for AMD and ATI?

The AMD-ATI merger had been rumored for months. Many took it as wild speculation on a deal that would likely never come to fruition. Well, over the weekend the rumors became even more credible and yesterday AMD made the big announcement.

FiringSquad has also completed an interview with AMD and in addition received some colorful commentary from NVIDIA's Derek Perez; "So if you think about it, it’s kind of like ATI’s thrown in the towel right? Getting beat on both ends, looking for a way out, a little bit like 3dfx a few years back."  Of course, it should probably be mentioned that NVIDIA bought 3dfx. 

AMD executive vice president Henri Richard took the opportunity to sit down and talk with DigiTimes about the ATI acquisition and its plans for the future. In the interview, Richard talks about the perceived risk that AMD is taking by possibly biting off more than it can chew with the acquisition, what this means for AMD's relationship with NVIDIA and the company's plans for graphics in general. When asked if AMD motherboards would still use NVIDIA core logic, Richard replied "I surely hope so, absolutely." In an interview with Bytesector, Perez also assures us "We will continue to work with AMD to bring our brands to our mutual customers," but warns "We are now Intel's best GPU partner."

Cliff Edwards at BusinessWeek claims the writing is already on the wall for disaster.  AMD CEO Hector Ruiz stated that "We will move from being neighbors to being a family," to which Edwards immediately followed up with "the problem with families — especially those formed by multibillion-dollar corporate mergers — is that they often end up dysfunctional."  Edwards goes on to detail why the merger is great for NVIDIA and Intel, and detrimental for ATI and AMD.

Scott Wasson from TechReport has a very concise outline of the details surrounding the deal, Mercury Research claims "the holy grail of integration for ATI and AMD is going to be an integrated processor — a combination of a graphics processor and a processor," Forbes believes the mobile semiconductor industry will turn into a bloodbath, TSMC assured the world its manufacturing relations with ATI will continue business as usual, The Register believes an AMD-ATI system-on-a-chip is the only way for both companies to survive, and finally CRN has the definitive "no" as to whether or not AMD will produce its own line of motherboards based on ATI core logic.

And finally, Ken Fisher at Arstechnica warns that everyone should take a breather and lay off the rampant speculation, as the deal is still not even finalized.  Specifically Fisher claims "And when it comes to claims about motherboard licensing, ATI, NVIDIA, and chipsets, bear this one key point in mind: this is not a done deal."  However, if ATI does terminate the agreement at this point the company will have to fork over $162M dollars to AMD.

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ATI has problems
By thegpfury on 7/25/06, Rating: 0
RE: ATI has problems
By tuteja1986 on 7/25/2006 12:29:16 PM , Rating: 3
I have read many article, blogs and threads about this take over. I really think this is good for ATI and AMD. ATI does have a bigger market share but not as big revenue as Nvidia. All ati ever needed is a new management that would things for effectively and efficiently.

Intel contract will end with ATI and this would mean ATI looses 80% of its desktop mainboard sales. That is worth around $100million for ATI. Intel DX10 integrated GPU will be ready by the time ATI contract expires and I doubt they would deal with Nvidia.

RE: ATI has problems
By fanboy123 on 7/26/2006 5:02:09 AM , Rating: 2
Yes I think the synergy is great and nothing weird can happen under Hector management. This guy is a smart ass with a great understanding of the market and he knows precisely how to have thing done properly. I may recommend two excellent pages for all material regarding Hector and ATI.

Ruiz' life is very interesting and the ATI's page gives you lots of info and precious links

RE: ATI has problems
By GreenEnvt on 7/25/2006 12:43:42 PM , Rating: 3
ATI has had excellent drivers for years now. People who still think their problems from 5+ years ago exist today need to take their heads out of the sand.

As for the merger, I don't know if it's a good idea or not, financial analisys is not one of my interests. It is sad to see one of Canada's best companies going to the US though.

RE: ATI has problems
By TomZ on 7/25/2006 12:59:46 PM , Rating: 3
ATI has had excellent drivers for years now. People who still think their problems from 5+ years ago exist today need to take their heads out of the sand.

I think "excellent" is an overstatement. I have a Radeon X1800 and am using Catalyst V6.6, and I use multi-monitor and RDC a lot, and their drivers have bugs transitioning between RDC and local display. I also don't like the long startup of the Control Center and the way it "flashes" the display during startup. Control Center is also pretty buggy as well (e.g., sometimes shows features that are not actually available for my card).

These issues don't cause my any serious problems, but I surely wouldn't rate the drivers as "excellent."

RE: ATI has problems
By ahkey on 7/25/2006 1:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
ATI drivers are "excellent" compared to, say, NVIDIA's Quad SLI drivers or Creative's XFI drivers. They really are.

RE: ATI has problems
By Ard on 7/25/2006 5:19:36 PM , Rating: 2
Low-blow, anyone? How are you even going to compare the Cat 6.6s to the Quad SLI drivers, which just came out? Come on, let's at least keep the comparisons equal.

As to the topic, it's going to be interesting to see what develops from this new company. Let's just hope we don't look back on this day a few years from now and regret that it happened.

RE: ATI has problems
By lemonadesoda on 7/25/2006 9:09:22 PM , Rating: 2
TomZ... I recommend uninstalling ATi Catalyst and reinstalling ONLY the drivers. (Its a separate download).

I've done this, and I also use UltraMon to control the second display. It's excellent. And perfect if you have 2 identical displays side by side. It takes care of the toolbar, and window swapping.

RE: ATI has problems
By flymolo42 on 7/25/2006 1:04:00 PM , Rating: 2
ATI still has driver problems. I have two older machines one with a Radeon 8500 AIW and one with a Geforce 3. Nvidia has consistently provided better drivers for their old hardware than ATI. I bought NVidia again this time around because I'm probably not going to change my graphics card for 2 years.

RE: ATI has problems
By cubby1223 on 7/25/2006 1:18:19 PM , Rating: 3
Regardless of who is based where, this was a good move for AMD.

I wrote in these news comments over two years ago before the Athlon64 was released, that I felt AMD needed to have a motherboard division to stay competitive against intel when the time comes that AMD takes away enough market share to awaken the beast.

But of course back then all I'd get in response was along the lines of "ha ha! AMD is the first company to bring out a 64-bit cpu and people will respect that. What has intel got to counter with, the P4EE & the itanic! They are so on their last dying breath."

Anyways, the difference is, with intel having their own chipsets, gpus, network cards, etc. etc. etc., intel can deliver a computer with a smaller price tag and still make more profit. And that's just one factor why intel has such an large advantage in a cut-throat price war.

AMD needs the diverse product line that ATi has.

RE: ATI has problems
By stmok on 7/25/2006 3:36:25 PM , Rating: 2
by GreenEnvt on July 25, 2006 at 12:43 PM

ATI has had excellent drivers for years now.

I'm not exactly sure what you define as "excellent", but you clearly haven't used Linux with ATI (closed-source) drivers in the last few years, have you?

Its only in recent times, have they started improving to an acceptable level. Their performance is still sub-par in Linux. (compared to Nvidia)...But the overall quality is much better than 2 - 3yrs ago!

One thing I'm hoping, assuming this ATI-AMD deal goes through, is AMD completely changes ATI's policy on Linux support. AMD has a good history of supporting open-source solutions, so it would be a nice change for ATI.

Although, if AMD really wanted to piss off Nvidia, they would completely open-source ATI's drivers so that future Linux distros will have full 3D acceleration "out of the box". (no need to users to manually install it themselves).

I think the ATI-AMD is a good idea for the long term. It allows them to have access to engineering talent in performance graphics. (which is different to Intel, where they mostly do IGP solutions with limited 3D performance...Although, I suppose their future solutions will be better, but I doubt it'll be better than what ATI or Nvidia can do).

It would be interesting to see an ATI performance solution being linked to CPU via HyperTransport.

RE: ATI has problems
By DigitalFreak on 7/25/2006 4:09:16 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, but who really cares about Linux? :-)


RE: ATI has problems
By segagenesis on 7/25/2006 4:15:02 PM , Rating: 3
Some of the complaints lobbied are legitimate although overall they are still just fine as far as drivers go. One gripe I have is that the Catalyst Control Center is a waste of memory, albiet its not critical to proper operation of the card. When the first Catalyst drivers arrived years ago they were leap years beyond the previous versions. Another bonus was early HDTV support that still required a bit of fiddling for proper operation (underscan vs. overscan) but it did work.

As far as Linux goes, the merger may be beneficial in this department as there is more demand for Linux graphics support than you may imagine. It's not very large, but its there.

RE: ATI has problems
By Trisped on 7/26/2006 1:53:57 PM , Rating: 2
The Linux comment above is still applicable. How many gamers use Linux and how many games run on it?

ATI probably decided that good Mac support was worth more then good Linux support.

As for the ATI GPU being connected to the CPU on HT, since ATI was one of the major investors behind PCIe and they designed it specifically for video cards, and the fact that even the fastest video cards and cpus don't use much more then 8-10x of their 16x connection implies that their is no reason to change the interconnect just yet.

Integration possibilities
By casket on 7/25/2006 1:14:02 PM , Rating: 2
"System-on-a-chip" will not work for PC's. Might be helpful for handhelds, and set-top-devices.

The 2 chip model makes more sense to me, as a video game player.

One possibility is the Xbox 360 model(which ATI was involved with):
Put the ATI chip in the co-processor spot

Unified Memory architecture
The x360 has 10 MB embedded-DRAM and 512 MB GDDR3 RAM

Maybe you could leverage this stuff to make a faster PC. Maybe you could share a L3 cache between the 2 processors.
Maybe you only need one integrated-memory controller... instead of 1 on each chip, and you can remove this function from the ATI chip, and have additional die-real-estate.

Other neat things: Graphics always use newer/faster memory than CPU's... AMD may be able to leverage ATI's memory knowledge as a slight advantage.

RE: Integration possibilities
By Pirks on 7/25/2006 1:45:56 PM , Rating: 3
"System-on-a-chip" will not work for PC's
It will work beautifully for MAJORITY of PCs. All these office boxes that corporations buy in truckloads. ATI/AMD on one chip obviously makes it CHEAPER (granted it's not gonna happen before 45nm EUV or whatsitsname is there) and corporations will consume those cheap office PCs like crazy. If AMD/ATI can pull it off before Intel and sell it cheaper than Intel IGP+CPU combo - Intel will get his but kicked again - woot!

I really think POTENTIALLY, IF DONE RIGHT, ATI/AMD could possibly struck gold there, a large fat gold mine - it's soo sweet to have IGP and memory controller on one little 45nm silicon piece, imagine tiny Mac Mini like but dirt CHEAP office PCs everywhere - ohh myy gawd... I'd buy one myself, eventhough I can't live without my nightly Doom 3/Prey sessions :-)

RE: Integration possibilities
By Pirks on 7/25/2006 1:47:49 PM , Rating: 1
and now just imagine single core A64 with ATI GPU and memory controller and SOUTHBRIDGE on one chip!!! This is THE BIG FAT KILL Miller-style!!

RE: Integration possibilities
By othercents on 7/25/2006 5:38:27 PM , Rating: 2
What about Servers?? I think the single chip CPU/GPU is a great idea for servers. This will reduce the cost of the equipment and even allow for smaller "blade" servers. Think if the blade had one processor, bios, memory, and hard drive? You can integrate everything else into the processor. Now you just added density that most people are looking for with servers.

Now in the future you could drop the hard drive and memory, and add a flash chip that runs both. You just reduced the bulk of the blade into a card no larger than a pack of playing cards.


RE: Integration possibilities
By Pirks on 7/25/2006 6:40:09 PM , Rating: 1
I think the single chip CPU/GPU is a great idea for servers
Nope, cut GPU outta there, you don't need it on a server, but include southbridge - OMG, you're right, servers will shrink TREMENDOUSLY! The whole entry-level blade with say 16 gigs or flash and a gig or so of RAM in a size of a deck of cards, or maybe two decks of cards - mama mia... really really interesting times ahead, IF ATI/AMD can manage it right - let's wish them best of luck in this!

Oh really?
By tfranzese on 7/25/2006 1:35:04 PM , Rating: 2
You can't build chips for all the game consoles. That's not possible. They would all like a slightly different style from the others. Difference is important. The same chip company would have difficulty designing chips for the different styles. It's also so high stakes that you need to focus. No one has enough extraneous resources around to build chips for all the game consoles.

IBM does a pretty good job of it (Gamecube, 360, Wii, PS3).

RE: Oh really?
By tfranzese on 7/25/2006 2:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
I just realized I posted this under the wrong news item. Doh.

RE: Oh really?
By DigitalFreak on 7/25/2006 4:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
ROFLMAO! You sure it's not just the comment software acting up again? :-)

what i'd like to see
By johnsonx on 7/25/2006 1:37:10 PM , Rating: 2
AMD CPU's should continue to be AMD branded (obviously)
ATI GPU's and graphics cards should continue to be ATI (obvisously)
Core logic for AMD processors should ALL be AMD branded, but tout an 'ATI Radeon Graphics Core' where appropriate.
Core logic for Intel processors should (obviously) continue to be ATI branded (I see no reason ATI shouldn't continue making Intel chipsets, as long as there is a market for them).
ATI/AMD should also offer mainboards, with branding appropriate to the CPU supported.

RE: what i'd like to see
By DigitalFreak on 7/25/2006 4:12:44 PM , Rating: 2
I see no reason ATI shouldn't continue making Intel chipsets, as long as there is a market for them

I doubt ATI will have a choice, since it's a forgone conclusion that Intel will yank their bus license soon.

By kitchme on 7/25/2006 3:55:56 PM , Rating: 4
The merging of AMD-ATI has caused the brand name change to DAAMIT.

Drivers Drivers Drivers
By othercents on 7/25/2006 5:29:50 PM , Rating: 2
There have been very interesting comments about ATI and Nvidia drivers, but I guess we need to set some things strait.

ATI drivers are "excellent" compared to, say, NVIDIA's Quad SLI drivers

Nvidia Quad SLI drivers came out on July 19th and they are only Beta drivers. You can't compare currently released ATI drivers to beta Nvidia drivers. Plus no one else has every had to write Quad SLI drivers before, so just getting something out there that runs is good. Especially since the 7950GX2 hasn't been out for that long.

ATI use to have very bad drivers, but they have gotten better. Much better in many cases. It is also true that Nvidia has gotten worse with their drivers. They are not bad, but they are not the same as they use to be. Does this mean we all should dump our Nvidia cards and get ATI cards?? No way.. Personally the games I play, play much better on Nvidia cards than they do on ATI. Some of this has to do with the driver, but most of it has to do with the hardware.

Nvidia is still the choice for Linux. I tried running Linux on my ATI card, but it didn't work at all. My old laptop ran it fine, but my desktop crashed.

Now does any of this have to do with the Merger?? No not at all. AMD would not have purchased Nvidia because of their management style differences. AMD and ATI have about the same management styles and it is a good fit. It might not be a good decision, but only time will tell. Knowing AMD and the CPU innovations that they came up with, I actually believe that this will be the best for both companies (and Nvidia if you care).


RE: Drivers Drivers Drivers
By Trisped on 7/26/2006 1:47:45 PM , Rating: 2
Apples and Oranges.

And you fell for it. The ATI drivers don't nativly support Crossfire with more then 2 cards, where the NVIDIA drivers support 4, but are still in beta. It is like compairing SLI drivers when they first came out with the drivers from ATI.

Unless ATI has developed a way to combine 3 GPUs in a crossfire set up, this is no big deal.

By IamKindaHungry on 7/25/2006 9:44:23 PM , Rating: 2
I bet the boys in Santa Clara hate this...

"I surely hope so, absolutely." In an interview with Bytesector, Perez also assures us "We will continue to work with AMD to bring our brands to our mutual customers," but warns "We are now Intel's best GPU partner."

By Teletran1 on 7/26/2006 3:14:16 AM , Rating: 2
Personally I think this is part of a plan to create a Mobile platform that can compete with whatever Intel is offering. It should be positive for other parts of thier buisness as well but they really need to make inroads in the mobile sector where they lag severely.

It's been tried
By code65536 on 7/25/2006 2:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
Intel's tried to integrate everything together years ago. But the project got messy and was cancelled (Google up "Timna"). AMD may find themselves reaching into the same hornet's nest with this grand vision of this...

By SilthDraeth on 7/25/2006 2:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
I am sure there are more reason's for the merger than, lets say, "public image". I would hope that the Board of Directors for both companies take into account feedback from their engineering teams. I would also hope that both of these companies know what is best for themselves. Both where independantly healthy companies, I highly doubt they would just throw it all away on some super huge gamble, that they had no possibility of ever suceeding at.

Of course that is just my opinion.

By epsilonparadox on 7/25/2006 2:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
The quote is from Business Week:
The merger also could lock ATI out of the business of supplying graphics chipsets to Intel-based PCs, worth about $90 million a year in revenue. ATI chipsets connect to Intel's processor through what's known as a front side bus, which serves as a highway for transferring data. But AMD, under a different licensing deal with Intel, is not allowed to use that front side bus. "We are evaluating the deal, and have got a lot to figure out how it would fit in with our existing agreements with both ATI and AMD," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy says.

If Intel allows AMD/ATI chipsets continue to be used for the Intel platform, what would they ask for return?

ATI thrown in the towel?
By MrCoyote on 7/25/2006 3:48:18 PM , Rating: 2
Derek Perez; "So if you think about it, it’s kind of like ATI’s thrown in the towel right? Getting beat on both ends, looking for a way out, a little bit like 3dfx a few years back."

He is joking right? ATI has been very successful and has a great line of cards today. But I still don't agree with this merger. My future vision says we will unlikely see AMD mainboards with Nvidia chipsets in the future.

an overnight thing ?
By armagedon on 7/25/2006 4:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
It's funny to read about all the news posted everywhere on the subject and how everyone having his own forcast on the merger. But it's not like both got drunk one night,ended up in the same bed, then in the morning, decided to get married.
I am sure that both companies have spent months and months studying the implications, benefits and drawbacks of the deal. You just don't spend that kind of cash in a gambling move. So to me, we're in for exciting time because they have something up their sleeves we may not know about. I'm in, because it's a merger of the most brilliant minds in their own field and i can't wait to see what the next Xpu is going to be like. More power Skotty, clean and cheap ....

Potential, but....
By Trisped on 7/26/2006 1:42:54 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, there is a lot of potential in the AMD+ATI merger, but not as much as everyone is letting on. In reality things will probably remain unchanged for a number of years.

Of course even more annoying then the rampant fan boy speculation is the idiotic ramblings of Derek Perez. I have never heard of someone who works in the actual hardware industry making such uninformed comments as:

"We are now Intel's best GPU partner."
“Ultimately this leaves us as the only GPU and platform company that will be able to support both AMD and Intel.”
“So if you think about it, it’s kind of like ATI’s thrown in the towel right?”
“And of course this has an interesting affect where we can look at this as an opportunity to accelerate our technology to market and kind of extend that lead over ATI.”

I didn’t know NVIDIA had a partnership with Intel, but I do know that ATI has one and that Intel has been fighting NVIDIA’s Motherboards for a number of years.
Just because ATI is being bought out by AMD doesn’t mean that ATI GPUs will no longer work on Intel boards. And from what I am seeing ATI is still making the RD600, so they are making Intel platforms too. If anything I bet Intel and ATI will keep their partnership, Intel providing the chipsets for the main streams and ATI providing the enthusiasts.
The problem with publicly traded companies is if someone wants to buy you out, you don’t really have a lot of choice in the matter. To accuse ATI of throwing in the towel seems a bit off. Worst case, ATI has a new parent company, best case ATI has a powerful partner in the CPU business that will turn the tables on ATI’s competition.
And as for “an opportunity to accelerate our [NVIDIA] technology…” what have you gained out of it? It isn’t like ATI will stop working until this is done. What it really sounds like is NVIDIA is scared so they are going to rush their products in hopes of staying compeditive.

By AlexWade on 7/25/2006 2:53:03 PM , Rating: 1
The one thing that cannot be overlooked is the buzz this is creating. Even in the less than computer savvy circles, people are talking about this. You can't buy that kind of publicity. Now, when people walk into Circuit City, they won't equate AMD with being 2nd rate.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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