ATI 101

According to abbreviationfinder, ATI Technologies Inc was one of the largest hardware companies that designed graphics processors, video cards and processors, it was bought by AMD in 2006 but kept its name for some products. Its market encompasses all kinds of products for graphic and multimedia processing, both for personal computers, as well as for portable devices, game consoles, mobile phones and digital television. Its foundation dates from August 20, 1985 (ATI). The company has been known by various names. It was founded as Array Technology Inc., but during the first 5 months it was changed to Array Technologies Inc., on December 18, 1985 it was renamed ATI Technologies Inc., and definitely became part of AMD on October 25, 2006.


ATI was founded by Kwok Yuen Ho (born in China), Benny Lau and Lee Lau (both born in Hong Kong). Ho, the youngest son of a humble family, had to alternate studies with work in the fields. He graduated from an Electronic Engineer degree and began a successful career passing through Philips Electronics and Wong’s Electronics Co. Ltd, where he gained extensive work experience, until he emigrated to Canada in 1984.

Kwok Yuen Ho could not continue working in jobs that he liked like those he developed in his previous period in Asia, the first months in Canada were hard, but he was lucky to meet fellow immigrants Benny Lau and Lee Lau with similar concerns that him, and they founded Array Technology Inc.. This was a graphics company but the final project was to dedicate themselves to computers but for this they needed to accumulate a lot of capital so they had to start saving with this humble company.

The beginnings were very difficult, the staff was barely 6 people including the 3 founders and due to not having any support, the capital was depleted until a few months after its foundation they had to request a loan to be able to move forward. The market demanded chips graphicsand ATI signed an agreement with Commodore by which cater to this company, and that’s how they overcame the initial slump at the end of 1986 the company had increased its capital and produced more than 7 thousands of chips for graphics in 2D per week.


Twentieth century

In July of 1987 ATI launches to the market family EGA Wonder and Wonder VESA graphics power surpassing conventional cards. In April of 1989it helps establish a VESA industry standard graphic and May of 1991 ATI creates family of products Mach8 able to process graphicsindependently of the central processing unit CPU. The following year ATI evolved its chipset and released the Mach32 that integrates the controller and the graphics accelerator in a single chip.

In November of 1993, she went on the market and began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In August of 1994 ATI introduced the Mach64 that is recognized as the first chipset acceleration motion video, had the support Graphics Xpression and Graphics Pro Turbo, had support hardware for converting color space YUV to RGB, and this served to provide MPEG acceleration for PC.

At the end of 1996, it developed the first chip with 3D graphics acceleration, which it called Rage. ATI already had more than one million graphics chips sold, and it already had several locations throughout Europe. Although it was not until 1997 with its Rage II chipset that it took over the 3D market. This was the first to support hardware Z-Buffer, texture compression, bilinear and trilinear filtering, and an interesting number of texture blending modes under Direct3D. In April I launched the 3D Rage Pro as one of the first AGP acceleratorsAnd with great performance on DVD, it had a great design and even went so far as to release it in versions with AGP 2X. However, the drivers limited the performance of the board and it lost the first place in the graphics acceleration ranking.

At the end of the year the company acquired Tseng Labs leader in the 2D graphics sector, including 40 new engineers with whom in 1998 it developed the Rage 128 GL that supported OpenGL. The good work of the memories allowed the Rage 128 GL to run extraordinarily in 32-bit with 32 MB of RAM. However, in 16- bit (the most common in games and applications at that time) this performance was not achieved, so ATI failed to establish itself as a leader in the 3D market, although it had the best support for DVD playback.

At the beginning of 1999, Ho was chosen as one of the 25 best entrepreneurs of the moment by Business Week Magazine, in addition ATI put their Rage to AGP 4X and created the first graphics card for laptops with 8 MB of built-in memory, the Rage Mobility. For April I announced the new Rage 128 Pro that improved the original chipset including anisotropic filter, a better triangle calculation engine and higher clock speed, but the improvements were not enough and it did not compete with its rivals. ATI also tried to unseat the competition by creating the Rage Fury Maxx that it used two processors working in parallel but that did not work as desired and also the cost was higher because it also needed twice the memory than normal.

XXI century

In April of 2000 ATI acquires ArtX leading developer of chip graphics high performance (one of them the Flipper was used for the Nintendo GameCube) and also announces the arrival of its sixth generation of chips the R100 and the first plate that advantage was the Radeon 256. Its characteristics were a high bandwidth, HyperZ technology (it saved the calculation of unobservable objects), DDR memories (faster), full hardware T&L (for the calculation lights and shadows) and Environment Mapped Bump Mapping, as well as two pixel pipelines capable of using three textures at the same time. ATI made a qualitative leap, improved its Catalyst drivers, its performance in resolutions of 1024×768 and higher was surprising and it was once again leading the sector. The dominance did not last long since the drivers of the competition took more advantage of their products but the advantages in playback of MPEG made many users opt for the Radeon, which with the launch of the All-in-Wonder Radeon provided users with everything what a video card can offer.

In 2001 the company is dedicated to launch its Radeon Mobility for laptops and the Radeon FireGL for workstations that needed much power graph (after purchasing department professional graphics FireGL to Diamond Multimedia that same year). Also begins a time of constant evolution and improvement of its Radeon and its R100 chipset (used in the Radeon 7000, 7200, 7500 and 7800GL) evolves to the R200 (used in the Radeon 8000, 8500, 9100 and 8800GL).

In 2002 and 2003 he announced that he would manufacture and develop the graphics chip for Microsoft’s new console, the Xbox 360, and for Nintendo’s new console, the Wii (although at that time the name of the project was Revolution). It also develops the R300, which will be used in the Radeon 9000, 9200, 9500, 9600, 9800 (the range was increasing so that the user could choose the most suitable depending on the price they were willing to pay) and the most Acclaimed of all the 9700. The latter culminated two great years for ATI in which the competition never overshadowed it at the top of the accelerator cards.

In 2004, a new standard for connection to the motherboard emerged, the PCI Express X16 (PCI-E), which doubles the speed of AGP 8X. Throughout this year and the following years, the R400 and R480 have been developed with the Radeon X300, X500, X600, X700, X800, X850 range and with the R500 the Radeon X1300, X1600, X1800 and X1900 range, this The latter has improved GPU and memory clock speeds up to the X1950 XTX, which is among the highest of today’s graphics cards. It was the first card to use the new GDDR 4 memories.

In 2005 Ati implemented together with Microsoft the ATI Xenos graphics card for the XBOX 360 video console. It is based on the R500 series chip, with 500 MHz at 90 nm. It is the first GPU to use Unified Shader architecture.

The 24 of July of 2006, ATI was bought by chipmaker AMD, in an operation that cost the latter 5,400 million. Currently, its best-known product lines are the Radeon and ALL-IN-WONDER graphics cards, the latter characterized by having video and audio capture. By September of 2006the ALL-IN-WONDER series was discontinued. At the same time, other technologies were incorporated into the product portfolio such as Avivo(for video and content in High Definition), addition of HDCP (High Definition Digital Contents Protection) management, and as the training and certification of components suitable for Windows Vista, also recent at that time, new Microsoft Operating System.

On October 25, 2006 ATI becomes part of AMD definitively. In mid- November of 2007 the revision RV670 of the series of the R600 chip made 55 appears nm with 666 million transistors. Specifically, the HD 3870 graphics card (512 MB, GDDR 4) works at a 775 MHz core frequency and 2.25 Ghz Memory. It supports the DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 2.0 APIs. Includes HDMI output and can be configured in CROSSFIREX format: revolutionary technology that allows the use of two or more graphics cards on the same computer (with the significant performance increase that this implies), but without necessarily being the same model. They simply must be compatible with the use of this technology with each other, and with a motherboard capable of this function.

In 2008, the HD 3870 X2 card was marketed with a built-in dual GPU and HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) support. Which practically beat in almost all the tests the most powerful launch that the rival made at the time: Nvidia Geforce 8800 Ultra, as indicated by the comparisons disseminated by the websites specialized in hardware. Being also, as usual, cheaper than its opponent.

In August of the same year, the replacement of the previous chip arrived with the new RV770 manufactured in 55 nm. Some graphics cards with this chip, the ATI Radeon HD 4870 series mount GDDR 5 memory and the ATI Radeon HD 4850 still carries GDDR3. The maximum expression is the ATI Radeon HD 4870X2, also multicore, whose comparisons in places specialized in hardware leave no room for doubt: this is the GREAT graphics card of 2008.

ATI Technologies Inc

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