(as Array Technology Inc.)
|Defunct||October 25, 2006|
|Fate||Acquired by AMD in 2006 and branding phased out in 2010|
|Headquarters||Markham, Ontario, Canada|
(Founder, Former CEO)
Lee Ka Lau
(Founder, Former President)
|Products||Graphics processing units|
Video capture cards
|Revenue||$2.222 Billion USD (2005)|
|$16.93 Million USD (2005)|
|Website||www.ati.com (Archived Oct 08, 2006)|
ATI Technologies Inc. (commonly called ATI) was a Canadian semiconductor technology corporation based in Markham, Ontario, that specialized in the development of graphics processing units and chipsets. Founded in 1985 as Array Technology Inc., the company listed publicly in 1993 and was acquired by AMD in 2006. As a major fabrication-less or fabless semiconductor company, ATI conducted research and development in-house and outsourced the manufacturing and assembly of its products. With the decline and eventual bankruptcy of 3dfx in 2000, ATI and its chief rival Nvidia emerged as the two dominant players in the graphics processors industry, eventually forcing other manufacturers into niche roles.
The acquisition of ATI in 2006 was important to AMD's strategic development of its Fusion generation of computer processors, which integrated general processing abilities with graphics processing functions within a chip. Since 2010, AMD's graphics processor products have ceased using the ATI brand name.
Lee Ka Lau, Francis Lau, Benny Lau, and Kwok Yuen Ho founded ATI in 1985 as Array Technology Inc. Working primarily in the OEM field, ATI produced integrated graphics cards for PC manufacturers such as IBM and Commodore. By 1987, ATI had grown into an independent graphics-card retailer, introducing EGA Wonder and VGA Wonder card product lines that year. In the early nineties, they released products able to process graphics without the CPU: in May 1991, the Mach8, in 1992 the Mach32, which offered improved memory bandwidth and GUI acceleration. ATI Technologies Inc. went public in 1993, with shares listed on NASDAQ and on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
In 1994, the Mach64 accelerator debuted, powering the Graphics Xpression and Graphics Pro Turbo, offering hardware support for YUV-to-RGB colour space conversion in addition to hardware zoom; early techniques of hardware-based video acceleration.
ATI introduced its first combination of 2D and 3D accelerator under the name 3D Rage. This chip was based on the Mach 64, but it featured elemental 3D acceleration. The ATI Rage line powered almost the entire range of ATI graphics products. In particular, the Rage Pro was one of the first viable 2D-plus-3D alternatives to 3dfx's 3D-only Voodoo chipset. 3D acceleration in the Rage line advanced from the basic functionality within the initial 3D Rage to a more advanced DirectX 6.0 accelerator in 1999 Rage 128.
The All-in-Wonder product line, introduced in 1996, was the first combination of integrated graphics chip with TV tuner card and the first chip that enabled display of computer graphics on a TV set. The cards featured 3D acceleration powered by ATI's 3D Rage II, 64-bit 2D performance, TV-quality video acceleration, analogue video capture, TV tuner functionality, flicker-free TV-out and stereo TV audio reception.
ATI entered the mobile computing sector by introducing 3D-graphics acceleration to laptops in 1996. The Mobility product line had to meet requirements different from those of desktop PCs, such as minimized power usage, reduced heat output, TMDS output capabilities for laptop screens, and maximized integration. In 1997, ATI acquired Tseng Labs's graphics assets, which included 40 engineers.
The Radeon line of graphics products was unveiled in 2000. The initial Radeon graphics processing unit offered an all-new design with DirectX 7.0 3D acceleration, video acceleration, and 2D acceleration. Technology developed for a specific Radeon generation could be built in varying levels of features and performance in order to provide products suited for the entire market range, from high-end to budget to mobile versions.
In 2000, ATI acquired ArtX, which engineered the Flipper graphics chip used in the GameCube video game console. They also created a modified version of the chip (codenamed Hollywood) for the successor of the GameCube, the Wii. Microsoft contracted ATI to design the graphics core (codenamed Xenos) for the Xbox 360. Later in 2005, ATI acquired Terayon's cable modem silicon intellectual property, strengthening their lead in the consumer digital television market. K. Y. Ho remained as Chairman of the Board until he retired in November 2005. Dave Orton replaced him as the President and CEO of the organization.
On July 24, 2006, a joint announcement revealed that AMD would acquire ATI in a deal valued at $5.6 billion. The acquisition consideration closed on October 25, 2006, and included over $2 billion financed from a loan and 56 million shares of AMD stock. ATI's operations became part of the AMD Graphics Product Group (GPG), and ATI's CEO Dave Orton became the Executive Vice President of Visual and Media Businesses at AMD until his resignation in 2007. The top-level management was reorganized with the Senior Vice President and General Manager, and the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Consumer Electronics Group, both of whom would report to the CEO of AMD. On 30 August 2010, John Trikola announced that AMD would retire the ATI brand for its graphics chipsets in favour of the AMD name.
In addition to developing high-end GPUs (originally called a VPU, visual processing unit, by ATI) for PCs and Apple Macs, ATI also designed embedded versions for laptops (Mobility Radeon), PDAs and mobile phones (Imageon), integrated motherboards (Radeon IGP), and others.
"Ruby", a fictional female character described as a "mercenary for hire", was created by ATI to promote some of its products. Computer-animated videos produced by RhinoFX about Ruby on a mission (being a sniper, saboteur, hacker and so on) appeared at large technology shows such as CeBIT and CES.
Although AMD strongly considered making the functional part of the ATI drivers "open source", before the merger with AMD, ATI had no plans to release their graphics drivers as free software:
Proprietary, patented optimizations are part of the value we provide to our customers and we have no plans to release these drivers to open source. In addition, multimedia elements such as content protection must not, by their very nature, be allowed to go open source.
See also: Comparison of ATI chipsets
In addition to the above chipset, ATI struck a deal in 2005, with CPU and motherboard manufacturers, particularly Asus and Intel, to create onboard 3D Graphics solutions for Intel's range of motherboards released with their range of Intel Pentium M-based desktop processors, the Intel Core and Intel Core 2 processors, the D101GGC and D101GGC2 chipset (codenamed "Grand County") based on the Radeon Xpress 200 chipset. However, high-end boards with integrated graphics processor (IGP) still used Intel GMA integrated graphics processors. The deal with Intel ended with the purchase of ATI by AMD in 2006, with Intel announcing SiS IGP chipset (D201GLY chipset, codenamed "Little Valley") for entry-level desktop platform, replacing the "Grand County" series chipsets.
Besides full products, ATI also supplied 3D and 2D graphics components to other vendors, specifically the Qualcomm MSM7000 series SoC chips of handheld and upcoming Freescale i. MX processors ATI claimed in May 2006, that it had sold over 100 million 'cell phone media co-processors', significantly more than ATI's rival NVIDIA, and announced in February 2007, that the firm had shipped a total of 200 million of Imageon products since 2003.
After the AMD acquisition, the Imageon and Xilleon were sold off to Qualcomm and Broadcom, respectively.
The company was incorporated in August 1985 as Array Technology Inc. and changed its name to Array Technologies Inc. in September 1985. Further, it changed its name to ATI Technologies Inc. in December 1985.
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