Four years ago AMD did the unthinkable: it announced the 5.4 billion dollar acquisition of ATI in a combination of cash and stock. What followed was a handful of very difficult years for AMD, an upward swing for ATI and the eventual spinoff of AMDís manufacturing facilities to GlobalFoundries in order to remain profitable and competitive.
In the years post acquisition, many criticized AMD for blowing a lot of money on ATI and having little to show for it. Even I felt that for $5.4 billion AMD couldíve put together its own competent graphics and chipset teams.
Despite the protest and sideline evaluations, good has come from the acquisition. The most noticeable is the fact that AMDís chipset business is the strongest it has ever been. AMD branded chipsets and integrated graphics are actually very good. And later this year, AMD will ship its first Fusion APUs (single die CPU/GPU): Ontario using Bobcat cores and an AMD GPU. Ontario will be the first tangible example of direct AMD/ATI collaboration since the acquisition.
Just as weíre about to see results from the acquisition AMD is announcing that it will retire the ATI brand later this year. Save those boxes guys, soon you wonít see an ATI logo on any product sold in the market.
The motivation behind the decision to retire the ATI brand comes from AMDís own internal research. Unfortunately AMD isnít sharing the details of this research, just the three major findings from it:
1) AMD brand preference triples when the person surveyed is aware of the ATI-AMD merger.
2) The AMD brand is viewed as stronger than ATI when compared to graphics competitors (presumably NVIDIA).
3) The Radeon and Fire Pro brands themselves (without ATI being attached to them) are very high as is.
The second point is really the justification for all of this. If AMDís internal research is to be believed, AMD vs. NVIDIA is better from a marketing standpoint than ATI vs. NVIDIA. Honestly, AMDís research seems believable. AMD has always seemed like a stronger brand to me than ATI. Thereís little room for ego in business (despite it being flexed all too often) and I donít believe AMD would hurt its marketing simply to satisfy any AMD executives - the research makes sense.
Meanwhile the third point is the realization that there are very few product lines with the ATI brand left. ATI's chipset operations were quickly absorbed in to AMD and given appropriate naming, while ATI's consumer electronics products such as their Digital TV division have been sold to other companies. Radeon and FirePro are the only two ATI product lines left, and both are strong brands on their own.