There's a background buzz in the industry right now that says the ATI brand might not make it past Christmas. For almost 25 years, the graphic card buying public has put ATI on its shortlist. KitGuru wonders, could this be the end?
The world is full of weird paradoxes , surprises and contradictions. Apple PCs have always been famous for graphics and yet they don't support DirectX or, generally, ship with anything faster than a single, middle of the range graphic card. Intel and graphics are two words that most people don't readily put together, yet Intel is the biggest supplier of 3D graphics processors in the world. In a world where cinematic gets wheeled out every 18 months to describe the next generation GPU without a hint of irony, should we be taken aback by the loss of a brand like ATI?
When Lau, Lau and Ho got together in 1985 to form Array Technologies Incorporated, they couldn't have dreamed of the reach their new company would have in just a few short years. By 1991, they had created the Mach8, which was able to process graphics separately from the CPU. How strange that, 20 years later, the world's biggest manufacturers would be pushing back the other way – spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research the best way to bring GPU and CPU functionality back inside a single product. Make your minds up chaps.
How to merge while keeping your distance
On 24th July 2006 AMD bought ATI and, with it, all of the names, logos and trademarks. For the past 4 years, AMD has made a sustained effort to keep the ATI and AMD brands as far apart as possible.
Don't upset Intel.
When nVidia supremo Jen Hsun Huang said “Intel is false” at the nVidia Analysts Day in April 2008, AMD could hardly believe its luck. It hunkered down and did whatever it could to ensure its graphic cards didn't carry any AMD logos. The strategy worked. Without a proper chipset programme of its own and AMD chipset collaboration no longer making sense, nVidia found Intel more objectionable than it had previously been when it came to supporting SLi on its mainboard chipsets. At the same time, all of those Intel chipsets happily supported ATI CrossFire. The lines had been drawn and a slow movement from one side to the other began.
World War III
While the famous quote says that World War IV will be fought with sticks, there is still some argument about World War III. From where KitGuru is sitting, the start of the next war begins when the ATI brand disappears. The IT world turns on marketing programmes. Intel won't pay towards adverts with AMD logos and vice versa. As soon as ATI is replaced with AMD, we'll see a huge polarisation of the brands, with Intel's Core logos et al on one side and anything resembling AMD or Fusion on the other. Of course, there will still be some graphics-only advertising for nVidia, but without being able to tap into the global CPU or chipset revenues, they're unlikely to be as prevalent.
Single Brand Logic
Having more than one logo, means that your efforts, money and other resources are split. You don't have a single point on which to push. The merged company's challenge has been that, in their respective fields, the ATI logo has more positive associations in graphics than the AMD logo does for processors. Maybe the powers that be have decided that pushing ‘Radeon HD, Radeon HD, Radeon HD' to the world was enough – and that we're not going to notice if the preceding letters change from A-TI to A-MD. It's a wager, but maybe not too much of a risk.
Saying Goodbye to ATI?
If the rumours are true, then the next set of logos will already have been created and approved. They will be sitting on a private server, inaccessible even to those with a password for AMD's asset management system, ADAM. While HP kept Compaq around as a way of selling it's cheapest (nastiest?) laptops to an unsuspecting public, the chances are that the ATI logo won't be printed on any materials launched after the end of 2010.
KitGuru says: It's a sad day when a brand ends, but when you consider all those that went before it – including 3Dfx, 3Dlabs, Cirrus Logic, Number Nine, Oak Technology, Rendition, S3, SiS, Trident, Tseng Labs and XGI – then you can see that evolution is the coldest of mistresses.
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