Summary: Recently Lyle had the chance to chat briefly with ATI's Paul Ayscough, Director of Corporate Marketing, concerning a number of subjects. Topics discussed include NVIDIA SLI, ATI's recent lack of new AGP products, and ATI's strategy concerning OEM versus retail sales. See the answers to these questions inside!
After the incredible success ATI earned with their RADEON DirectX 9 cards, most industry observers expected that to continue throughout 2004. But after running into retail supply issues with high-end X800 XT series cards, and the subsequent cancellation of ATI’s performance card for the mainstream market, the X700 XT, many began to wonder if these were signs of ATI’s unprecedented run beginning to come to and end.
Recently FiringSquad’s own Lyle Wagner was given the opportunity to speak over the phone with ATI’s Director of Corporate Marketing, Paul Ayscough on these topics, and many more. The following
FiringSquad: We’ve heard that you were working with Microsoft on possibly integrating 3Dc into DirectX. Could you give us an update on how this is progressing?
Paul Ayscough: Generally we make a point of not making specific comments on other company’s software. However I can make some general comments.
ATI and other hardware companies do create new features for our own hardware and software. The best of these we like to see incorporated into the API’s – such as Microsoft’s DirectX. These features are competitive advantages for ATI for the first year or two – but generally, we like to see them adopted by the mass market after that. If game developers tried to create games with 100’s of extra different pathways for all the different hardware – with no commonality – it would make the job of game development much too time intensive – or at least take time away from developing the rest of the game
FiringSquad: So by licensing this technology to other companies, you don’t feel threatened, rather you feel it drives everything forward?
Paul Ayscough: It’s very nice to have unique features; it’s also very important to make sure that they become widely adopted. It’s in the best interest of the industry to ensure developers have access to next-generation features and capabilities to deliver the best possible gaming experience to the end user.
FiringSquad: Do you see further blending between the console and PC markets, with future generations of consoles being upgradeable?
That’s an interesting question. The current generations of consoles are fixed platforms, and in comparison to next-generation PC technology they can’t offer equivalent performance. The upside of today’s consoles is after 3-4 years developers have extensive expertise on the hardware and can maximize performance with a relatively short time-to-market. In addition, it’s a simpler usage model – with no user demands as it relates to drivers or optimal performance settings. Upgradeable consoles are an interesting notion but I think it will really come down to end user demand.
Also, there have been attempts such as with the old Sega Megadrive to have upgradeability. I don’t ever remember any of them being wildly successful
FiringSquad: ATI has secured multiple design wins from tier one OEMs such as Dell. Has this come at the expense of the retail market?
Paul Ayscough: The reality is the graphics market has grown substantially over the past few years and so has the demand for our products – particularly at the high end. With top-tier OEMs like Dell now offering high end gaming machines it creates new business opportunities for ATI. ATI enjoyed tremendous OEM success with the transition to PCI Express. This OEM success has placed increased constraints on our capacities. With new products like the X800XL and X850 series shipping in volume we expect quick and wide retail availability going forward.
FiringSquad: ATI’s last two product introductions, the RADEON X700 family and RADEON X850 series, are currently only available for the PCI Express interface only. Why did ATI choose to provide parts for the PCI Express market first when the AGP interface has an established base of millions of users?
Paul Ayscough: PCI-E represented a huge inflection point for the PC market. Through significant investments and a close development relationship with Intel, ATI capitalized on this transition. That being said we have not forgotten about the massive installed base of AGP users. Stay tuned over the coming weeks, as we will have some exciting new product announcements in AGP area. We understand that the AGP installed base of enthusiasts will be around for some time – and we want to ensure the very best experience for this group of gamers too!
FiringSquad: Valve’s Half-Life 2 is clearly ATI’s most prominent Get in the Game title – what other games and software developers is ATI working with that we’ll see in the next 6-12 months?
Paul Ayscough: ATI is working with a number of the industry’s leading game and application developers and will have some exciting announcements here soon. Two very cool ones to watch out for in the near future are the Matrix Online and Act of War.
FiringSquad: NVIDIA’s SLI technology has drawn a lot of buzz from both end users and the media alike. Has ATI run any projections on how large this potential market may be?
Paul Ayscough: This is a very interesting area, one where 3DFX tried to capture.
I personally believe that there is a market for ultra high end PC gaming technology and these users are important to address as they influence buy decisions. We feel we currently have the right the right products with the RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition. Watch this space for future announcements!
FiringSquad: So you do have a strategy.
Paul Ayscough: Yes, we do have a strategy, one we will share at the appropriate time!
FiringSquad: Is this type of technology important for mindshare amongst the high-end gamers?
Paul Ayscough: That’s a difficult question to answer. The reality is this market moves at a breakneck pace – significantly increasing performance (in many cases doubling) every six months.
There is always going to be a segment of gamers that demand the highest performance possible with money being no object. The majority of gamers don’t behave in this manner. They upgrade when the technology offers compelling performance and feature improvements over the previous generation. So there’s actually multiple ways of grabbing mindshare at the high end and this will continue to be a priority moving forward for ATI.
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|