The Platform

Acquiring ATI amounts to a quick (but expensive) way of filling in the gaps in AMD's current business.  AMD has already proved that it can compete technologically with Intel, and is currently working on fixing the problems with being able to compete in terms of manufacturing ability as well.  By acquiring ATI, AMD will have the talented workforce necessary to produce its own chipsets/motherboards with integrated graphics and engineer some very unique hybrid CPU/GPU platforms using Torrenza.

There are other ways AMD could have gone about attaining the same goal, for example by building its own workforce and IP rather than spending the $5.4 billion dollars necessary to acquire ATI's, but the acquisition approach is arguably quicker and allows AMD to focus on reaping the benefits sooner, not to mention that it leaves AMD better prepared for the future if GPUs do grow closer to the CPU. 

Intel has created the perfect example of how to be a successful microprocessor manufacturer, and its platform focus is one key element of that example.  The ATI acquisition, in many ways, is about following Intel's example and improving wherever AMD can. 

Can't We All Just Get Along?

The one element of this acquisition that you don't read about in press releases, is what it takes to actually make it happen.  It's not always easy to get a bunch of people from varying backgrounds and with various interests to work well together, it's even more difficult to take two well established and fully operational companies and expect to combine the workforces into one.  While direction for the combined company will come from both AMD and ATI senior management, making that translate into a well oiled machine that can not only innovate but execute great products is quite difficult. 

Having each company operate entirely independently makes no sense, since we've already discussed that it's what these two can do together that makes this acquisition so interesting.  AMD and ATI have to work as one company, but getting from where both companies are today to the point where they are one single harmonious entity (or at least as much as Intel) is going to be a very long and difficult process. 

One fundamental hurdle is that neither AMD nor ATI have particularly strong marketing, at least compared to their competitors.  Both Intel and NVIDIA have arguably done a much better job at marketing their products, building brands and gaining mind share.  We are concerned about the marketing direction that the new AMD would take, especially considering that in many ways ATI has the stronger PR/marketing focus.  At least from our dealings with the two companies, ATI gives more importance to its PR/marketing teams than AMD does, which is cause for concern since it is AMD buying ATI and not the other way around.  Only time will tell if AMD will assimilate ATI into its way of thinking, or if both companies will be able to use this acquisition as an opportunity to learn from one another.  We all know what the sensible choice would be, but getting thousands of people to agree on the same thing tends to complicate things. 

The one perspective that is easiest to support right now is Intel's "let's wait and see what happens" view.  Even with all this talk about the potential merger, the benefits, the pitfalls, etc. the reality is that right now all we have is a proposed merger.  It's certainly big news to even have such an acquisition out in the open, but until the final ink is dry many people remain skeptical.  It really wouldn't be too shocking to see the whole merger evaporate and for ATI and AMD to just continue on their present, independent paths -- certainly no more surprising than the initial announcement.

Our Thoughts: The GPU Side


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  • johnsonx - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    Yep, you two are both old. Older than me. Heath H8? I didn't think selling candy bars would pay for college. You actually had to build candy bars from a kit back then? Wow. ;)

    Mostly the 'kids' comment was directed at your esteemed CEO, and maybe Kubicki too (who I'm well aware is with Dailytech now), and was of course 99.9% joke. Anand may be young, but he's already accomplished a lot more than many of us ever will.
  • Gary Key - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    where is the edit button... led to Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - link

    Well according to ATI's investors relations webby and also Wikipedia, they were founded in 1985 and started by making integrated-graphics chips for the like of IBM's PCs, and by 1987 had started making discrete graphics-cards (the EGA Wonder and VGA Wonder).

    Yes, they quite obviously do predate the 3D revolution by many years. VGA graphics date from 1987 and no doubt the VGA Wonder was one of the first cards supporting it. I imagaine that EGA Wonder card they also made in 1987 would have had the 9-pin monitor connection you mention as that is the EGA standard (I've never used it but that's what the Wiki says).

    All useless information today really, but a bit history is worth knowing.
  • johnsonx - Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - link

    Yep, I stuck quite a few EGA and VGA wonder cards in 386's and 486's back then. They were great cards because they could work with any monitor. Another minor historical point: Monochrome VGA was common in those days too - better graphics ability than old Hercules Mono, but hundreds of $ less than an actual color monitor.
  • yacoub - Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - link

    Your comment should get rated up b/c you correctly state that ATI has been around for some time. Let us also not forget that NVidia bought 3dfx, 3dfx did not simply disappear. And Matrox, while mostly focused in the graphic design / CAD market with their products, has also survived their forays into the gaming market with products like the G200 and G400. Perhaps something about basing your graphics card company in Canada is the trick? :) Reply
  • johnsonx - Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - link

    Well, 3dfx was dead. NVidia was just picking at the carcass. Matrox survives only because they make niche products for professional applications. Their 3D products (G200/G400/G450, Parhelia) were hotly anticipated at the time, but quickly fell flat (late to market, surpassed by the competition by the time they arrived, or very shortly after). Reply
  • mattsaccount - Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - link

    >>NVIDIA also understands that dining with Intel is much like dining with the devil: the food may be great but you never know what else is cooking in the kitchen.

    The food in Intel's cafeteria is actually quite good :)
  • stevty2889 - Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - link

    Not when you work really sucks then.. Reply
  • dev0lution - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    But the menu changes so often you don't get bored ;) Reply
  • NMDante - Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - link

    Night folks get shafter with cafe times.
    That's probably why there's so many 24 hr. fast food offerings around RR site. LOL

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