Introduction:

Today we have a special treat for all our readers out there. We got the chance to have an interview with Terry Makedon from ATI! Terry is in charge of most all decisions that go into each release of ATI's Catalyst Graphics Drivers, but that didn't stop us from asking him about items not related to graphics drivers.

I won't delay with much of an introduction here, I think the questions we ask are pretty self-explanatory. I have divided the questions into 3 categories: Introductory/Random, Catalyst/Gaming, Future/Final. Enjoy!

Introductory/Random Questions :

Legit Reviews (LR): Terry, thanks for shariing your time with us today for this interview!

Terry Makedon (Terry): Thanks for your interest in talking to ATI and me in particular. We appreciate you giving us the opportunity to interact with the readers of Legit Reviews.

LR: Please tell us a little about yourself and your position at ATI.

Terry: I am ATI's Software Product Manager. What that means is I am responsible for two areas: 1) External marketing of ATI sofware. I inform people about our CATALYST driver suite. 2) Internal product definition. I decide what features go into CATALYST and when.

LR: What was your biggest accomplishment while working at ATI?

Terry: Getting an interview at www.legitreviews.com. And a close second would be inventing, launching and promoting CATALYST.

CATALYST/Gaming Questions :

LR: You are the MAN when it comes to software so what can we expect to see in the near future. Can you drop us any hints as to what is in store in the near Future.

Terry: Something big is coming for CATALYST in the next 2-3 months. It will take graphic drivers to a brand new level, and of course will be another ATI first. It will be interesting to see how long before other companies will copy the concept after we launch it.

LR: Many readers have asked us when they can expect equal-quality driver support for GNU/LINUX systems as they get with Windows systems. What is ATI's plan for driver support for LINUX-based operating systems?

Terry: Well, if you look at installed base of PC users I think Windows accounts for roughly 95 per cent of the users out there. We have to balance our resources in a similar manner. Having said that, Linux is very important for us and we are committed to supporting it.. Recently we brought Linux support under the CATALYST marketing umbrella, and with this increased visibility you can expect higher quality Linux drivers from ATI in the next 6-12 months.

LR: With GDC recently finished, we have a LAN party question. Why doesn't ATI have a large LAN party that it sponsors? Any future plans or is their an upcoming LAN party that ATI will be the official video card sponsor?

Terry: Well we did sponser CyberXGames in Las Vegas a few months back. We thought it would be the biggest LAN party ever (and it was in terms of prize money), but it didn't have the greatest attendence. ATI is really starting to focus on the gaming scene (and I personally like to go to LAN partys) more and more. In fact we will be doing some big sponsorships this year, I just don't have details currently.

For example we are doing one in June in Denver with the Everlan guys that should be pretty big. I plan on going to that one myself.

LR: What was the last game you played in your little free time?

Terry: Oddly enough I don't always play the latest games. Since I get many games showing up at my desk it is basically impossible to keep up and play all of them. The most recent game I have been playing is Black Hawk Down. The reason for that is I ran into a guy that works at Ideazon (the company that makes the Z Board) recently, and he gave me a specialized keyboard for Black Hawk Down. Since I had the keyboard I had to play the game. Those keyboards are awesome!

LR: Which one are you personally waiting for in 2004: HL2, Doom3 or another title?

Terry: The new Leisure Suit Larry game and The Movies are two that should be lots of fun. Between the FPS game I would have to say HL2 (since I have seen more of it, and know it looks pretty impressive).

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.