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ATI : Post X1k Interview

David Legrand le 28 février 2006
PCi : Your now on chipset market since a few years. Your XPress200 with integrated graphic unit had a great success, could you describe us how do you consider your situation on this market now ?

ATI : We are a full solution provider to the chipset market, we have solutions for AMD and Intel platforms, with and without integrated graphics. This puts us into a very strong position in every market segment, from the price sensitive entry level PC right up to the enthusiast segment.

PCi : Why did you keep the same XPress 200 designation for chipset that were quite different sometimes ? This name was same used for Intel and AMD offer, for example.

ATI : Essentially, the product generation and the capabilities of the integrated graphics are very similar. And using the same product name for an Intel and and AMD chipset solution should not cause confusion, as customers will buy a mainboard either for Intel or for AMD.

PCi : You have experienced some problems concerning your southbridges and USB 2.0 support. What's the situation now, and what new products do you plan in this sector ?

ATI : I would not say that we have problems with USB 2.0, it is very stable and I am not aware of any incompatibilities. The performance of our USB 2.0 implementation is good, it is not very good, but its throughput is higher than that of any high-performance USB stick out there.

So these performance issues that were picked up in a number of reviews are only relevant when using external USB hard disk drives.

RS-482 block diagram

PCi : Some people criticize ATI chipset for a lack of functionality as the manufacturer need to implement chips from Silicon Image, Realtek, Texas Instrument or VIA on their boards to offer Gigabit, FireWire... and a total lack of software offer as NVIDIA Media Shield Raid utility. Do you consider improving these points in the future?

ATI : Every feature that is added to a piece of silicon makes a chip larger and more expensive. As we cater for all markets, from entry level up to enthusiast, we also have to keep those markets in mind where every penny counts. In the entry level market for example, features like Gigabit Ethernet or SATA-2 are not required, so why should our entry-level customers pay for something that they don’t need?

In the enthusiast market, all these features can be realised using chips from market leading companies of the relevant segments, and in that market, customers are able to benefit from these features.

Looking at performance, you will actually see that Gigabit Ethernet connected directly to the Northbridge via PCI Express is performing extremely well. The same applies for SATA-2 performance, where we clearly outperform any chipset integrated solution.

PCi : ULI produces southbridges for your chipsets, especially replacing your SB450 one, and many manufacturers use the ULI southbridge on their XPress 200 motherboards. How do you see the future, considering that ULI now belongs to NVIDIA ?

ATI : What southbridge to use is up to the manufacturer of the mainboard. They can use one of our southbridges or any other southbridge that can communicate to the Northbridge via PCI Express. The takeover of ULI by NVidia should not affect the mainboard manufacturers choice of southbridge.

PCi : Do you consider licensing your Crossfire technology to ULI ?

ATI : I believe any future ULI products will be integrated into NVidias product portfolio. So I don’t think ULI will develop new Northbridges under the ULI brand.

PCi : Your RD580 (CrossFire dual 16x) should be launched in march. Why is it late ? What are next projects for chipset market ?

ATI : I can’t talk about future products, but what makes you think that RD580 is late?

RD580 - ULi M1575 boards from Asus & DFI - Credits : Anandtech

PCi : Do you think it's possible to take the lead on an already well fixed market, Intel chipset for Intel CPU, nForce for AMD CPU ? What will be your assets in this domain ?

ATI : As you can see from recent market share figures, we are making great progress in all chipset segments. In the PC industry, no market is ever fixed.