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Last week we took a look at ABIT’s first ATI-based graphics card, the ABIT RADEON 9800 XT, which should be hitting retail in the next few weeks. While we were working on that review, we also shot off a few questions to ABIT USA marketing guru Harry Yen, who was kind enough to answer our questions.
We were curious to know where ABIT stood with NVIDIA, as well as their future plans for their ATI graphics cards. ABIT explained its relationship with NVIDIA in the motherboard business, but never mentioned graphics. Obviously a little clarification was necessary…
FiringSquad: Does ABIT plan to continue offering graphics cards based on NVIDIA GPUs?
Harry Yen: Definitely, NVIDIA has been and always will be ABIT’s key partner. We will continue to make graphic cards based on NVIDIA GPUs. By adding ATi-based VGA cards to the ABIT product lineup, ABIT is simply adding to our already award-winning VGA line.
FiringSquad: Exactly when did ABIT first consider integrating ATI VPUs into your existing product lineup? Also, what factors really influenced your decision – product availability/supply, pricing?
Harry Yen: We have been considering integrating ATI VPUs into our existing product line for some time. Before we could commit to adding these cards to our lineup, we had to first ensure that we could guarantee continued supply for our users.
The second aspect we had to cover was ATi allowing ABIT more creative freedom in changing the ATi card. By that, I mean ABIT likes to play with card timings, settings and designs. ABIT is an aggressive company as is ATi. ATi not only agreed with ABIT creating ABIT-designed ATI cards and providing faster and more silent cards, but asked us how they could support us in getting these cards to market.
FiringSquad: Slowly but surely, the ATI market is growing more and more crowded with third-party manufacturers. What separates ABIT from the competition (including ATI)?
Harry Yen: ABIT has been know as The Enthusiast’s Company ever since the BP6 (world’s first Dual Celeron motherboard), RAID for everyone and now OTES onboard. I can’t say much right now but we will have a lot of surprises for the loyal ABIT fans in the future with our ATI lines. Let’s just say that ABIT is taking full advantage of the creative freedom we have in creating VGA cards that are simply faster and more silent than the others.
FiringSquad: What strengths does the ATI architecture bring to the table that NVIDIA doesn’t? And what about vice-versa?
Harry Yen: This is a hard question to answer in that I don’t think it is so much a great difference in the architecture that separates nVidia from ATi. Both create great VGA cards with exceptional performance and durability.
I think it comes down more to a matter of preference. Different users will choose different cards. We sell to corporate users, CAD design teams, multimedia users, web surfers and of course the most hardcore gamers in the market. Different people within each of these segments have their own preferences. If you look at the overall sales mix in the market, you see that both nVidia and ATi are doing really well.
FiringSquad: Besides the RADEON 9800 XT, what other VPUs does ABIT plan on adding to its product line?
Harry Yen: We will have both 9600 and 9200 available in the near future. After that, get ready for some new technology for VGA Cards. PCI-Express will totally transform gaming in that speeds are so much faster than AGP technology.
ABIT will be offering a full range of these PCI-Express VGA Cards when this technology takes hold later this year.
FiringSquad: What extra or unique features does ABIT plan on adding to its future ABIT-powered cards? OTES? Enhanced hardware-monitoring? Dual DVI? Could you give us a potential timeline on your future plans?
Harry Yen: I touched on this a bit in an earlier answer. ATi is giving ABIT the freedom to create ABIT-designed VGA cards. When ABIT redesigns a VGA Card, we look at how to create the fastest card available with the greatest level of durability.
We are currently working on a few cards and when these are launched, look to see more aggressive settings, an ABIT software program for user control and a trick or two on board.
FiringSquad: We’ve heard lots of stories about working with ATI and NVIDIA from a board partner’s perspective. Exactly how flexible is NVIDIA with their board partners and how do they compare to ATI? Does it vary by chip? Are you for instance, able to offer an overclocked RADEON 9600 XT card but not RADEON 9800 XT?
Harry Yen: We have worked with nVidia for many years and ABIT came out with a lot of firsts for the industry. On our nVidia-based cards, we have added ABIT software packages, used aggressive settings and added ABIT’s patented OTES cooling. With ATi, we will be following the same philosophy.
We'd like to express our thanks to Harry for taking time out of his schedule to answer our questions. We look forward to seeing ABIT's graphics products from both ATI and NVIDIA in the future!
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