It's a sad day for PC nerds, as AMD has confirmed that it's taking the venerable ATI brand out behind the woodshed and sending it off to hardware heaven.
Founded in 1985, ATI was regarded for years as a true Canadian success story. It achieved early success with the Wonder and Rage series of video cards and broke new ground in the mid-90s with the All-in-Wonder lineup, the first video cards to feature integrated TV tuners. The debut of the Radeon series in 2000 was another big success and while its fortunes fluctuated over the years as it grappled for supremacy with rival GPU maker nVidia, it remained an Industry Playa throughout. But in 2006 the company was acquired by AMD in a deal worth more than $5 billion and while the name has been maintained in the years since, those days are now over.
AMD has confirmed with the Tech Report that it intends to eliminate the brand from future product lines. A "major motivator" for the decision is the upcoming release of the Fusion line, which will combine CPU and GPU technology on a single chip. AMD also said that it is "on a roll" and making significant headway against nVidia, shipping more discrete graphics units than its competitor in the past quarter and also coming out ahead with some "high-profile design wins."
The company's own internal research also indicated that consumers who know something about graphics cards, which is to say the people most likely to buy them, are aware of the Radeon brand name and that their preference for AMD triples when they know about the AMD/ATI merger. This, according to the company, "indicates 'permission' to consolidate under the AMD brand." Current Radeon hardware will continue to carry the ATI name to help avoid confusion but beginning later this year, new products will be released sporting an AMD Radeon badge.
ATI may have been considered a terrible idea at various points throughout its history but there were at least as many moments of shining brilliance and if you've been a PC gamer for any length of time, you've almost certainly used at least one of its products somewhere along the line. I've had several, most recently the Radeon 9700, seriously outdated by current standards but a fantastic card in its day, and even well past it. In all honesty, the end of ATI is probably long overdue, but with all that water under the bridge it's still a little bit sad to see it go.