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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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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
quote:
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
quote:
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? :-)

*ducks*


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.


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