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Written by digitalwanderer   
Monday, 30 August 2010 09:47

The death of an old friend: ATI

I hate to say it, I really do, but the rumors are true. ATI is no more, AMD is retiring the brand name and will be marketing all the new cards they put out under the AMD Radeon logo as of today August 30th, 2010.

Simple enough idea, but it took me a few days before I could fully process the information. It just seemed too surreal, a world without ATI? No more red team? What will the cards be marketed as, AMD? So it'll be green team vs the green team? What about all my buddies at ATI? Fired? Relocated? Shuffled around and reorganized?

Most importantly, what about Ruby?


It really did hit me hard; ATI has been a part of my life for an awful long time now it seems and the thought of them disappearing left me empty somehow. What are they going to do? How is this going to work? Where the hell would I get cards from?

Panicking led to some e-mailing and phone calls which led to some explanations. Chris Hook was very kind in talking me down from the walls and got me in touch with Dave Erskine about the new branding strategy. (My heartfelt thanks to both of you guys, you really helped me through this difficult time) Anything I get right is due to their help, any inaccuracies are all my doing.

In my opinion this is all happening due to the recent Intel/FTC settlement. Before the settlement AMD kept the ATI name around so that OEMs wouldn't have to put AMD branded video cards in Intel rigs....basically because Intel would force OEMs into not putting AMD branded video cards in Intel rigs by price control/special deals. ATI branded cards were a different matter though, so they kept the name.

Now the Intel/FTC settlement changes that, Intel should no longer be able to pressure OEMs to not use AMD parts. (In theory, and probably in fact too since the FTC is sort of watching Intel like a hawk right now. ) The timing for this change couldn't be better from AMD's perspective, and the reasons for the change are sort of compelling. (Unless you're all hung up on the ATI name out of sentiment like me, in which case it still sort of sucks.)

AMD has done some research, surveys of several thousand "discrete graphic aware" (I read that as "not clueless noobs") respondents in the US, UK, Germany, China, Japan, Brazil, and Russia and found out the following:

- AMD preference triples when respondent is aware of the ATI-AMD merger
- The AMD brand is stronger than ATI vs "competitors" ("competitors" = nVidia)
- Radeon and Fire Pro brand awareness and considerations are very high

AMD is taking the result of these studies as "permission" to consolidate under the AMD brand, they feel the research shows that it will be generally very positively accepted by the market. They think the timing couldn't be better:


- AMD graphics business is executing well, recently taking the overall leadership in discrete graphics market share.
- Continue to secure new design wins with major OEMs - Apple iMac and Mac Pro
- Settlement with Intel as well as recent FTC ruling protects their right to fair and equal market access.

So what are they going to call them now? Are they no longer the red team? Well, no. They actually got a bit clever with that and I sort of like the new name/logos...they're just going with the Radeon name brand:


With or without the AMD on it depending on the OEMs needs, I like it. Some examples of how it'll look in the field, note how when the unit has an Intel CPU they use the AMD-less logo:


It still looks the same at least. AMD made this decision partly to try and consolidate some of their brands so they can focus on them, apparently it costs monies to support each brand name you use so less is gooder. You can see in this chart how that strategy looks:


Now if Vision looks like it's taking a rather large slice of the pie, it's because it is. I haven't gone into much detail on the Vision thing, but that's because I'm mainly focusing on what is important...the loss of ATI. I'm saving the Vision thing for another day, suffice for now to say that it's another platform name like Dragon or Spider meant to make it easier for less technically inclined people to buy a system without getting all technical and worrying about what is in that silly box bit that goes on the floor that you plug your monitor, mouse, and keyboard into.

I'm trying real hard to remember when I started my relationship with ATI, but I can't. It just seems like it's always been there. ATI has been a part of my life since before my children were born and almost as long as my wife, so at least 15 years. It hasn't always been rosy, it started out quite rocky and with lots of butting of heads. I watched the company evolve from a cold and cynical bunch of suits into the warm and friendly giant it is today. (Yeah, I really think that way) I've had and still have a number of good and dear friends who work there, and the AMD merger hasn't been at all bad for any of them. They're all doing better today than the were a few years ago, and every one of them seems pumped about this name change and keeps telling me it's not going to change anything in a bad way....which I truly believe they believe and I guess from a purely logical/analytical mode I believe too; but it's still a day of mourning for me as I bid farewell to the company that has meant so much to me over all these years.

Goodbye ATI, you will be missed. I plan to continue to toast to your memory for a long time to come, and I expect f-ing great things out of Radeons in the years ahead too...as long as they continue to provide great graphic products and their exceptional customer support I'll forgive them the name change.
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