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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  • sykemyke - Wednesday, August 9, 2006 - link

    Hey, why don't we just put FPGA block on the cpu?

    This way, programmer could create really new Assembly command, like 3DES or something..
    Reply
  • unclebud - Monday, August 7, 2006 - link

    it was good to just read any sort of article from the site owner.
    was feeling that the reviews section had just fallen into the depths of fanboyism, so it was good just to hear somebody at least sometimes impartial THINKING out loud rather than just showing off.
    what's really interesting to me is that the whole article mimics what was written in the latest (i think) issue of cpu from selfsame author.
    good issue incidentally. will buy it from wal-mart hopefully tomorrow (they have 10% off magazines)
    cheers, and keep representing -- i still have the 440bx benchmarks/reviews filed away in a notebook
    Reply
  • jp327 - Sunday, August 6, 2006 - link

    I'm not a gamer so I usually dont follow the video segment, but looking at the Torenza
    slide on page 2(this article), I can't help but see the similarity between what amd forcasts and the PS3's Cell architectuter:

    http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2379&p...">http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2379&p... cell

    http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2768&p...">http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2768&p... K8L

    Doesn't AMD have a co-op of some sort w/ IBM?
    Reply
  • RSMemphis - Sunday, August 6, 2006 - link

    I thought you guys already knew this, but apparently not.
    Most likely, there will be no Fab 30, it will be re-equipped to be Fab 38, 300 mm with 65 nm features.
    Considering all the aging Fabs out there, it makes sense to have the 90 nm parts externally manufactured.
    Reply
  • xsilver - Saturday, August 5, 2006 - link

    of the 5.4b of ATI's purchase price, is most of that due to intellectual property?
    i mean as you state, ATI has no fabs.


    and then regarding the future of GPU's, with CPU's now becoming more and more multithreaded, couldnt it be fathomable that some of the work be moved back to the cpu in order to fill that workload?
    unless of course gpus are also going multithreaded soon? (on die, not just SLI)
    Reply
  • eugine MW - Saturday, August 5, 2006 - link

    I had to register just to say well written article. It has provided me with much more information regarding the merger than any other website.

    Greatly written.
    Reply
  • MadBoris - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    How is the GPU on a CPU even considered a good idea by anyone?

    GPU bandwidth + CPU Bandwith = how the hell are mobo bus's and chipset going to handle all that competing bandwidth from one socket. Either way their is crazy amount of conflicting bandwidth from one socket, I doubt it can be done without serious thrashing penalties.

    When I want to upgrade my video card, I have to buy some $800 CPU/GPU combo. :O

    Call me crazy, but that sounds like an April fools joke. But who's kidding who?

    It's doom and gloom for PC gaming, and AMD just made it worse.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    Considering that we have the potential for dual socket motherboards with a GPU in the second socket, of a "mostly GPU CPU" in the second socket, GPU on CPU isn't terrible. Look at Montecito: 1.7 billion transistors on a CPU. A couple more process transitions and that figure will be common for the desktop CPUs.

    What do you do with another 1.4 billion transistors if you don't put it into a massive L2/L3 cache? Hmmm... A GPU with fast access to the CPU, maybe multiple FSBs so the GPU can still get lots of bandwidth, throw on a physics processor, whatever else you want....

    Short term, GPU + CPU in a package will be just a step up from current IGPs, but long term it has a lot of potential.
    Reply
  • dev0lution - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    1. There was no mention of the channel in this article, which is the vehicle by which most of these products make it to market. Intel and Nvidia have a leg up on any newly formed ATI/AMD entity, in that they make sure their partners make money and are doing more and more to reward them for supporting their platforms. AMD has been somewhat confused lately, trying to keep their promises to their partners while trying to meet sales goals on the other.

    2. Intel and Nvidia could ramp up their partnership a whole lot quicker than AMD/ATI can (no pesky merger and integrating cultures to worry about), so now you have Nvidia with a long term, very gradual share shift on the AMD side with a quicker ramp up on the Intel side of things to replace ATI's share. Intel and Nvidia in the short term end up doing pretty well, with plenty of time to develop next gen platforms to compete with whatever the long term AMD/ATI roadmap looks like.

    3. AMD/ATI got more publicity and PR over this whole deal than they probably could have gotten with their annual marketing budgets combined. Everyone inside and outside the tech world have been talking about this merger which isn't a bad way to get brand recognition for no additional investment.
    Reply
  • s1wheel4 - Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - link

    This will be the end of AMD and ATI as we know them today....and the end of both in the high end enthusiasts market...when merged; the new company will be nothing more than a mediocre company both of which will lag behind Intel and NVIDIA in performance.



    Reply

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