Reader Interview: ATI's President & COO Dave Ortonby Anand Lal Shimpi on April 26, 2001 2:19 AM EST
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Now that NVIDIA owns 3dfx, they have access to 3dfx's FSAA and HSR technology. We all know that 3dfx's FSAA was the best in the video card industry and that all card and chipmakers were working on FSAA solutions even before 3dfx was bought by NVIDIA. Does ATI have something in store to compete with NVIDIA's newly acquired technology? Are they working on Hidden Surface Removal now that it has become a popular issue due to the drivers released by 3dfx just before it sold out?
A. ATI has a variety of exciting new technologies in the mill that will be appearing in upcoming products, including advancements in FSAA technology and many other areas, but unfortunately I can't say more just yet. As for Hidden Surface Removal (HSR), many people don't seem to realize that the HYPER Z™ feature incorporated in the entire family of RADEON products already accomplishes this in hardware. HSR is a general term describing an algorithm that determines which surfaces in a 3D scene will not be visible in the final image and discards them before they are rendered. This is exactly what the Hierarchical Z component of HYPER Z™ does.
A. ATI has had great success in the mobile market, and currently we have a 57% market share according to Mercury Research. There is a simple reason for that - ATI has created mobile graphics products that are adaptable to the growing number of segments and specific designs in the mobile market. MOBILITY RADEON™ is a full family of graphics that excels in 3D performance, power management, multimedia, and integration of features on the chip such as DDR memory and TV Out. This has allowed us to obtain design wins in various segments of the market, from high-end desktop replacement designs, to mainstream and thin and light designs, as well as ultra portable designs.
ATI has thrived in the mobile market because of this adaptability, while others have survived only by specializing in one area or another. Some of our competitors concentrate on low power, some on cost. In each case this really limits you to a small share of an ever-growing market that is getting more and more segmented because of specific user requirements. We have a strong understanding of where the market is and will be going, and MOBILITY RADEON™ is the first of several RADEON™-based mobile products to effectively address the rapid growth and segmentation of the mobile market.
With NVIDIA in the Xbox, the Mac, and having a serious hold of the retail and OEM PC market, what is ATI doing to ensure game developers are coding their products to work well with the ATI cards?
A: ATI is in the Nintendo Gamecube, which will begin shipping this summer. We are in the lion's share of shipping Mac products, and for the third year running ATI continues to be the world's leading producer of stand-alone graphics chips (with 40% market share according to the latest Mercury Research data). Combined with the success and great reviews our RADEON™ products have been experiencing, there are plenty of compelling reasons for game developers to invest their support behind ATI's products.
One of the difficulties that developers face is that the design cycle for cutting edge games is in the 18-24 month range, while graphics companies are releasing new versions of their products every 6-12 months. ATI is investing more to develop features for the greatest gaming visuals while requiring minimum effort for game developers to implement, as well as maintaining easy backwards compatibility with older hardware. The response we've received from developers has been great so far, and you'll start seeing the results in games later this year.
NVIDIA seems to have 3 or 4 design teams in order to order to have a new generation out roughly every year. How many design teams does ATI have?
A. With the addition of the ArtX team that was working on the Flipper chip for Nintendo, we now have 2 full design teams working concurrently on advanced, high performance designs, plus additional teams working on transferring these technologies into mainstream and integrated graphics products.