AMD, the number two processor company behind Intel, acquired ATI, the leading provider of graphics cards and chips for PCs and laptops, for nearly $5.5 billion in the summer of 2006. Four years later, AMD is finally abandoning the ATI name in favor of AMD-branded graphics cards.
The established ATI product lines--Radeon and Firepro--will live on, but they will do so under the AMD banner. The upcoming Fusion technology line from AMD--combining CPU and GPU functionality in a single chip--is the culmination of the merging of AMD and ATI technologies, and presents an appropriate opportunity for AMD to kill the ATI name and transition to the next generation.
At the time of the ATI purchase, then Chairman and CEO of AMD Hector Ruiz said in a statement "Bringing these two great companies together will allow us to transcend what we have accomplished as individual businesses and reinvent our industry as the technology leader and partner of choice."
That purchase was made with the intent of engineering an innovative new architecture for the future of smaller, mobile computing platforms. AMD bought ATI to acquire skills and intellectual property related to computer graphics in order to integrate processing and graphics in a single chip.
Fusion is the manifestation of the marriage of ATI and AMD, and is AMD's contribution to the next-generation of processor technology. Netbooks, tablets, and smartphones are driving a need for higher performance, better power efficiency, and more effective cooling in a smaller package.
The AMD Fusion technology will start appearing in netbooks and other devices at the beginning of 2011, and will compete against Intel's integrated Atom processors. The graphics capabilities of the Atom processors leaves something to be desired, though--providing an opportunity for AMD to jump into the lead with Fusion processors capable of 1080p video and DirectX 11 compatibility.
The shift in branding will reduce market confusion. AMD has a strong brand--much more recognizable in the mainstream than ATI, which has more sentimental value to hardcore gaming or graphics enthusiasts.
For businesses and consumers, the change in branding has no significant impact. The Radeon and Firepro product lines will continue to deliver the graphics quality and performance we have come to expect from ATI, and the Fusion chips appears to be an innovative technology worthy of both the AMD and ATI brands.