X-bit labs: Do you think that chipsets with integrated graphics processors (and eventually central processing units with built-in graphics cores) will impact the TAM of discrete graphics cards going forward?
David Cummings: Integrated graphics has already had a significant impact on discrete graphics and now represents the lion’s share of graphics sales by unit volume. In fact, AMD has a vested interest in integrated graphics as we not only make chipsets with integrated graphics, we are actively and aggressively developing graphics cores that reside on the same piece of silicon as the CPU.
AMD's highest-performance core-logic with ATI Radeon HD 3300 integrated graphics processor
If anything, I believe that on the other side of current economic uncertainty, the market for discrete graphics will remain healthy for the foreseeable future. As mentioned earlier, PC gaming is alive and well. Visual computing continues to grow in importance, as demonstrated by everything from user interfaces to new applications like Microsoft Photosynth and Seadragon. Additionally, new applications of GPUs such as transcoding and stream computing are likely to have a positive effect on discrete sales.
X-bit labs: What do you think ATI/AMD should do in order to gain market share, revenue and profitability amid the economic crisis?
David Cummings: Continue to innovate.
X-bit labs: Do you think that the launch of Larrabee GPUs by Intel will fundamentally change the market of discrete GPUs?
David Cummings: To date, Intel has been offering controlled glimpses of their Larrabee vision. Based on information they have released, we know Larrabee will be a multi-core x86 architecture and that it will target the personal computer graphics market. This may or may not happen in the 2009/2010 timeframe.
First, I’d like to bring up the saying, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Intel is taking their existing x86 technology and attempting to apply it to what they see as a market they have yet to tap – personal computer 3D graphics. The challenge they are going to have is in convincing the existing PC ecosystem of software developers, OEMs, system integrators and many other stakeholders to add the additional cost of Larrabee to their existing BOM, or substitute Larrabee in place of existing graphics solutions that have evolved over the last two decades, in response to the needs of this very same ecosystem. The reality is that our discrete graphics products are incredibly powerful, multi-core processors in their own right that have developed in lockstep with the needs of the hardware and software vendors. I like our chances.
X-bit labs: Unlike graphics cards, TAM of video game consoles has been showing dramatic growth levels. Do you think that video game consoles also impact the market of graphics cards if not represent a threat to gaming PCs in general?
David Cummings: I think the key here is that while PC gaming is showing slower growth relative to video game consoles, it is growing and that is good for the graphics market.
As you probably know, AMD designed the graphics powering both the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. At the same time, we have a team that works very closely with the software development community. From this unique vantage point, we have watched the evolution of today’s video game market. What we have witnessed is the addition of thousands if not millions of new video game players, thanks to the Nintendo Wii and the many mobile devices that have provided another vector for delivery of video games. The casual gamer has never been so well served. At the same time, many of the gamers we would classify as mainstream and enthusiast now own both a gaming PC and an Xbox 360. Often, this group will prefer to play one genre of games on the Xbox 360 and another genre on the PC.
X-bit labs: Do you think that since the most popular video game console – Nintendo Wii – has very basic graphics capabilities, this will lower demands towards high-quality graphics in PC video games and consequently will impact sales of advanced graphics cards.
David Cummings: I think the Nintendo Wii is a brilliant product that took a novel approach to the game play experience, an approach that has been incredibly successful. If anything the Wii shows that immersive game play is about more than just graphics. I think the Wii will ultimately be good for the video game industry, both console and PC, as it has introduced non-gamers to this entertainment medium.
X-bit labs: Do you think that emergence of high-definition video standard will help the PC graphics adapter market to grow?
David Cummings: Definitely. It already has. There is a growing audience of PC gamers with their [Blu-ray enabled] systems hooked up to 52” HD television sets. As prices continue to drop on LCD televisions, those numbers will explode.