Interview with ATI’s Terry Makedon

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Future/Final Questions :

LR: What, if any, performance difference is there between the early PCI-X graphics cards and today’s AGP graphics cards?

Terry: With a native PCI-E implementation there will be a sizeable performance increase in a variety of applications. In the early stages this will be in applications that take advantage of user interaction, such as HD video editing. Gamers will see big benefits in future titles that maximize graphics performance when reading from and writing back to system memory.

ncreased visual performance is a result of the graphics core, the graphics bus , the PCI-E chipset (Grantsdale or Alderwood) and several other factors that must be considered for an apples-to-apples comparison. At the Spring IDF we demonstrated applications running at twice the frame rate with PCI-E.

LR: R420 is right around the corner for ATI. Rumors are flying that the NV40 is being toned down because it performs so good. Would you like to add some marketing hype as to how the AGP version of the R420 will do?

Terry:

Marketing hype is only good if you know all the details. At this point I have no idea how NV40 will perform. The most I can say is that I will be using an R420 on my gaming machine very soon.

LR: It looks as if the Alderwood and Grantsdale motherboards are ready to launch. Most people agree the chipset announcement delay is due to the lateness of PCI Express VGA cards (and everyone knows ATI is ahead of nvidia in this), but a few people are suspecting the CPU isn’t ready yet. Can you shed some light on this issue?

Terry:

I have no idea. We are ready when they are though.

LR: What is ATI’s chipset plan for the rest of 2004? What can you tell us about the features of any potential chipsets in the near future?

Terry:

ATI is committed to offering high-performance chipsets. With the RADEON 9100 IGP we raised the bar for integrated graphics and we will continue to push the performance envelope for the rest of 2004. We are also strongly committed to PCI Express support on our chipsets. You will see some significant announcements from us on this in the mid-to-late 2004 timeframe.

LR: From ATI’s experience, just how dependant will the Longhorn operating system be on system hardware?

Terry: MS lists the draft Longhorn Logo requirements at:

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/winlogo/hwrequirements.mspx

This document also contains a section on Longhorn graphics requirements.

Additionally, the link below is specific to graphics for Longhorn and also discusses the tiering plan MS sees for Longhorn.

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/hwdev/tech/display/graphics-reqs.mspx

These sections outline the intent to have “tiers” of functionality in the UI and to have these “tiers” directly tied to the hardware in the PC. These documents are from last year and MS has signaled an intention to update the tier requirements. The general structure is of a tier of hardware requirement levels that ratchet up to full DX9 plus some additional OS support features ( GPU scheduling, memory protection, etc ).

With these things in mind MS seems poised to bring the 3D desktop to the mainstream. This creates a new opportunity for 3D graphics in the enterprise with new commercial and consumer applications that leverage the power of Avalon.

So it’s fair to say the better the hardware in a PC, the better the experience the consumer will get. That’s a pretty clear direction from MS on the importance of high performance 3D graphics hardware for Longhorn.

LR: Are there any other announcements that you would like to make to our readers?

Terry:

Unfortunately, I can’t give to much away at this time other then to say keep on eye on us in the coming months. With PCI-E and a host of new desktop, mobile and integrated products in the pipeline we will have some pretty cool things to show you in the near future.

LR: Anything else that you’d like to share with our readers? This can be as far off topic as you would like!

Terry:

Always take time out from your gaming to enjoy life.

LR: I would like to thank Terry Makedon from ATI for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions for us! Thanks again!

Terry:

It was my pleasure.

Conclusion :

This concludes our interview with Terry Makedon of ATI.

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