ATI Technologies

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ATI Technologies

legal form Incorporated
founding 1985
resolution October 25, 2006
Reason for dissolution Takeover by AMD
Seat 1 Commerce Valley Drive East Markham
ON , Canada
management AMD Canada
Adrian Hartog ( President )
Branch Microelectronics , information technology
Website ( Memento from July 5, 2006 in the Internet Archive )

AMD Canada headquarters in Markham, Ontario at the former headquarters of ATI (2009)

ATI Technologies Inc. ( ATI for short ) with headquarters in Markham was at times one of the most important manufacturers of graphics cards and chips for computers. The company was founded in 1985 by Kwok Yuen Ho ( CEO until 2004), Benny Lau and Lee Lau, all three emigrants from Hong Kong , with starting capital of USD 300,000 . It should not be confused with the US mining company Allegheny Technologies , whose stock exchange abbreviation is also ATI.

On July 24, 2006, the takeover by the US processor manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) was officially announced. This takeover was completed on October 25, 2006, so that the existence of the company "ATI Technologies Inc." ended. The ATI brand name remained for a number of years for various graphic products. ATI was originally an abbreviation for "Array Technology Inc.", but was changed to "Array Technologies Inc." in the year it was founded and shortly afterwards to "ATI Technologies Inc.".

On August 30, 2010, AMD announced that it no longer wanted to sell future products under the brand name ATI, but only under its own acronym AMD.


Logo from 1985 to 2003
ATI Wonder + with 256 kB RAM
ATI X850XT PE from PowerColor

ATI's production initially only comprised application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) until the company's boss, K. Y. Ho, succeeded in signing a contract with Commodore for 7000 graphics chips per week in the year it was founded. Shortly before, the early end for ATI seemed imminent just four months after the company was founded, but the Asian bank Overseas Union Bank rescued the Canadian manufacturer with a loan of USD 300,000, and later the bank even granted a loan of USD 1.5 million.

From 1987, the Canadian the first produced EGA and - VGA - graphics card for the ISA slot, the supported up to 16 or 256 colors, and IBM were compliant. These were the EGA-Wonder and VGA-Wonder cards. The latter was a 16-bit ISA card that ran in an 8-bit ISA slot. In addition, the VGA Wonder had an analog and a digital monitor connection, so that all monitors available in the PC area could be connected to this card. The VGA Wonder was equipped with 256 kB or 512 kB screen memory and could display resolutions of 1024 × 768 pixels in up to 256 colors. The card could display the following graphic standards (compatible monitor required): MDA, Hercules, CGA, EGA (incl. SuperEGA), MCGA and VGA (incl. Various SuperVGA modes). In combination with a multisync monitor, the VGA Wonder was the ideal configuration for creating programs that were to be run on different graphics cards of different standards, as all display formats provided by the program could be tested. Previously, either several computers with different graphics cards had to be available, or the graphics card in the computer had to be changed often, and other monitors might also have to be connected.

The first 2D accelerators followed in 1991 and 1992 with the Mach 8 ( co-processor ) and the Mach 32 (integrated processor) . In 1994 came the 64-bit Mach64 processor, which had the first functions of color conversion and was quite powerful for the time.

After that, the success of the major OEMs continued with the Rage series. Among other things, ATI owes its good position in the retail market to a number of acquisitions. In 1998, ATI took over Tseng Labs including all 40 employees for USD 3 million, and at the beginning of 2000, for USD 400 million, the chip design company ArtX and its 70 employees.

In the middle of the same year, the first appeared Radeon - chipset codenamed RageC6. It was followed by the Radeon 7500 (2001), Radeon 8500 (2001), and at the end of 2002 the Radeon 9xxx series, which brought ATI the breakthrough among gamers . ATI continued this success story with the Xxxx series (e.g. X800Pro) at the beginning of 2004, which was replaced by the X1xxx series (also called X1k) from October 2005.

In 2004, Dave Orton, who came to ATI from ArtX, replaced K. Y. Ho as CEO, who moved to the Board of Directors as Chairman. At the end of 2005, K. Y. Ho announced his retirement from the post of Chairman of the Board - the founding generation had withdrawn completely. On May 2, 2006, ATI took over the Finnish company Bitboys Oy with the aim of creating a European design center for mobile chips. On July 24, 2006, ATI was itself the target of a takeover by the US processor manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). AMD took over ATI on 25 October 2006 for a total of 5.4 billion US dollars completely.


An older AGP graphics card with an ATI Rage graphics processor (16 MB) from 1998

The main business area was the development and manufacture of graphics processors . These were made for various PC architectures such as televisions , cell phones , consoles and other microelectronic devices. ATI was also active in the multimedia business. The company offered its “theater chip”, which offers support for video-in and video-out, on separately available TV cards. Furthermore, ATI manufactured motherboard chipsets (with and without integrated graphics unit) for the processors from AMD and Intel .


In response to Nvidia's SLI technology, ATI introduced a technology called Crossfire , which allows two PCI Express graphics cards to be operated in parallel on certain motherboards. Crossfire is based on the much older multi-rendering process . Most Intel and AMD motherboards offer Crossfire as an expansion alternative by adding an ATI graphics card of the same type if at least two PCI Express slots are available. In contrast, Nvidia graphics cards can only be operated in parallel on motherboards with an nForce chipset that supports SLI.

An expanded version of the Crossfire mode was introduced with the now dropped term CrossfireX. The most important innovation was the ability to operate four graphics cards in parallel. This requires mainboards with the appropriate number of PCI Express slots and a supporting chipset. A system with a graphics card network consisting of two or four cards in combination with an AMD CPU and mainboard was referred to by the AMD marketing department as a spider platform. With the introduction of the Phenom II and the Radeon HD4000 series, the Spider platform was replaced by the Dragon platform. The name CrossFireX was later given up again in favor of CrossFire (without X).

Driver support

ATI supplies proprietary drivers for Microsoft Windows 7 , Microsoft Windows Vista , Windows XP , Mac OS X and GNU / Linux . For Microsoft operating systems there is a package called Catalyst Software Suite (display driver, Catalyst Control Center and WDM driver) and a pure display driver variant. The updates appear about once a month.

Support for the Linux driver fglrx was very sluggish at the beginning and resulted in slow and unstable drivers. Support for new chipsets sometimes took up to a year. Since the beginning of 2006, new fglrx versions have been published much more regularly, since 2007 there has been around one update per month. The publication usually takes place at the same time as the Windows drivers are published.

The initially very short list of supported distributions ( Red Hat , SuSE ) has now been officially expanded to include all major distributions ( Debian , Fedora , Mandriva Linux , Red Flag Linux , Red Hat Linux , Slackware , openSUSE and Ubuntu ).

In August 2006 it was announced that version 8.28.8 would contain support for the older GPUs Radeon 8500, 9000, 9100, 9200 and 9250 as well as their Mobility and IGP variants for the last time .

After AMD acquired ATI in August 2006, ATI complied with requests to disclose its driver specifications. About a year later, in September 2007, the first documents and a rudimentary 2D driver as a basis were delivered to members of the Xorg Foundation . At the same time, AMD began to advance the development of the proprietary fglrx driver. A large part of the previous OpenGL code was exchanged over the next few months, which resulted in a significant increase in the 3D acceleration in version 8.41.7. In November 2007, ATI also abandoned the previous, fglrx-specific version numbering. The driver package was renamed Catalyst and has since been managed with the same version number as the current Windows version.

The available open source driver Radeon enables a largely unproblematic use of older graphics chips, with experimental support of the previous X700 / X800 generation.

In September 2007, ATI released part of the 2D specifications for some of their newer graphics chips and promised to release both the missing 2D and full 3D specifications once the final legal issues were resolved.


ATI has offices in Barbados , France , Germany , the UK , Hong Kong , Japan , Malaysia , PRC , Taiwan and the USA . In the end, the company employed more than 5,600 people (as of 2006) and generated sales of around 2.2 billion US dollars (as of 2005).


ATI mainly developed new graphic processing units (GPUs). ATI left the manufacture of these to the Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturing company TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company). The group has also largely left the manufacture of the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) to other companies. Among others, Sapphire Technology , Powercolor , HIS , Club3D and ASUS Partner of the Group. In the ATI FireGL series you will only find graphics cards titled “ Built by ATI ” (in German: “Made by ATI”). In addition to the well-known desktop chips, there was a wide range of Radeon graphics cards for the notebook sector, which ran under the marketing name ATI Mobility Radeon , which are characterized by the combination of high performance with low power consumption (apart from the top models Mobility Radeon X800 and X1900 series ) distinguished.


Furthermore, ATI was very committed to the new PCI-Express interface standard, both in the motherboard sector and in the graphics card sector. So there were quite a few models that appeared only for the new standard at a very early stage. However, these chips can still be designed to be downward compatible with the Rialto bridge chip , which modifies PCI Express graphics cards to AGP cards. All cards suitable for AGP systems from the Radeon X700 onwards have this special chip.

Graphics chips

ATI has or had the following graphics chip series on offer:


ATI had various chipsets for AMD and Intel platforms on offer. While the latter were discontinued through the takeover of AMD, the AMD chipsets now continue to run under the naming scheme AMD * type designation *.

Web links

Commons : Graphics cards from ATI and other manufacturers  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. AMD takes over ATI for $ 5.4 billion. heise online , July 24, 2006, accessed December 10, 2012 .
  2. a b Jens Ihlenfeld: AMD buys ATI for 5.4 billion US dollars (update). , July 24, 2006, accessed December 10, 2012 .
  3. AMD breaks away from the brand name "ATI". heise online , August 30, 2010, accessed December 10, 2012 .
  4. Georg Wieselsberger: AMD - "Spider" system demonstrated. (No longer available online.) In: IDG Entertainment Media GmbH, October 7, 2007, archived from the original on March 2, 2016 ; Retrieved January 5, 2010 .
  5. Kevin Parrish: AMD Unleashes the Dragon. In: Tom's Hardware. Bestofmedia Network, January 8, 2009, accessed January 5, 2010 .
  6. Benjamin Benz: AMD brings chipset and graphics card know-how into the house. In: c't . Verlag Heinz Heise , July 2006, accessed on December 10, 2012 (c't issue 17/06).
  7. Michael Larabel: Open Source Developers Speak Out About AMD. In: Phoronix Media, September 15, 2007, accessed January 5, 2010 .
  8. AMD Proprietary Linux Release Notes. AMD - Advanced Micro Devices Inc., September 10, 2007, archived from the original on July 2, 2010 ; accessed on January 5, 2010 (English).