Graphics chip and board maker
ATI Technologies Inc. today announced a dramatic shift in its business strategy, and it’s something that has profound implications for the Macintosh. Taking a page from competitors like Nvidia, ATI said today that it is now offering its graphics technology to third-party card makers. Until now, the company has produced its own line of graphics cards exclusively. ATI is hoping the move will result in increased sales and distribution of ATI chip technologies around the world.
ATI is now selling chips and licensing reference board designs and software drivers to original design manufacturers (ODMs) and add-in board makers (AIBs). The company said that it’s not holding anything back, either — licensees are able to get the full range of ATI’s graphics technology for their own use. ATI still plans to provide chips and boards to original equipment manufacturers (like Apple, for example), and it says it’ll continue to support ATI-branded retail products as well — but it appears that the days of ATI-branded boxes on store shelves will be coming to an end.
ATI president and COO David Orton calls the move great news for ATI’s customers and partners alike.
“The market has changed over the past year-and-a-half and it is now time for ATI to deepen its penetration into the system integrator and distribution markets through this new strategy,” said Orton.
How will ATI’s decision to license board manufacturing to third parties affect future Mac products? The effects may be long-ranging. ATI will continue to support the Macintosh in its core chip designs — the company has stressed that its new Truform technology will appear in a Mac-compatible chip later this year, for example. There’s always the possibility that Apple will continue to work with ATI to provide graphics subsystems for new Mac models, as well. Where there may be a change, however, is in plans for future ATI-based retail products. Ultimately, it will be up to ATI’s licensees to support the Mac. If past experience with other graphics chipmakers is any indication, chances are that support may either be limited and expensive for Mac end-users, or totally non-existent.
The company’s new strategy will be officially rolled out at next week’s Computex, a major computer show that takes place in Taipei, Taiwan, from June 4 to 8. ATI will reveal the names of some of the board makers it has partnered with at the event.