ATI’s position in the graphics market has shifted heavily in the past year. The company was once notorious for releasing new hardware, only to be one-upped by a competing card from NVIDIA, or in other instances, a mere driver update. At one time, the gaming community actually shunned ATI cards in favor of faster and more robust competing solutions from NVIDIA.
Of course, a lot has changed since then. ATI turned over a new leaf after it acquired ArtX, the brains behind GameCube’s “Flipper” chip and the original R300 core. Shortly after that acquisition, I had the opportunity to interview Dave Orton, former president and CEO of ArtX and current president and COO of ATI technologies, for a story on which I was working.
Back then in 2000, everyone was under the impression that ArtX would take ATI into the e-appliance market and augment the firm’s portfolio with an integrated graphics chipset. There was no talk of R300 or acceptance with gaming enthusiasts. In fact, the interview centered on how the two freshly conjoined companies would mutually benefit each other.
R300’s debut two years later was a bombshell, to say the least. And I’ll never forget leaving the Ruby Skye nightclub in San Francisco the night ATI concluded its press briefing. I ran across an ArtX engineer who was clearly excited about the proceedings at hand. After talking about R300 for ten minutes, he leaned over and with a smirk said, “You think this stuff’s cool? You should see what I’m working on right now!”
Since then, I’ve wondered about the “stuff” he referred. ATI apparently isn’t done speaking its peace about the way it
thinks games were meant to be played.
That’s just one reason I was so thrilled to get another opportunity to talk with Dave Orton a couple of weeks ago. Most of the questions this time around are pretty general since Dave’s job is further from engineering than it once was. However, we also have a technical interview planned that should address some of the points that were raised in our interview
with NVIDIA’s David Kirk. Stay tuned for that one!