Update: The information below came from an unofficial source and is in general not correct. Please see the statement issued by ATI on the 5th of June over this news-story.
After two years of being “a card company” and “a chip company” at the same time, ATI Technologies reportedly decided to totally withdraw itself from graphics cards business and concentrate fully on selling its VPUs to Add-In-Board partners.
A web-site said today that an unidentified source from ATI Technologies told them that the company will change its strategy; as a consequence, the company will cease to market its graphics cards and will fully dedicate itself to VPU development and selling. It means that we will not see any “Built by ATI” graphics cards on the market, but there will be more solutions by companies like Sapphire, TYAN, Gigabyte, Club3D, Power Color, Hercules and so on. In order to ensure the highest possible quality after the launch of higher-end products, ATI Technologies will outsource the manufacturing of such solutions to its current partner (PC Partner, the owner of Sapphire) and control the quality itself. Such products will still be marketed under different brand-names. The only consumer solutions to be sold under ATI’s own brand-name are ALL-IN-WONDER multimedia graphics cards.
As a result of yet another change in business model, ATI Technologies will shut down its free technical support services via phone and will deploy the same services charging the users additional money
AthlonXP.com thinks that the decision may affect RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB pricing. They suggest that “Built by ATI” 9800 PRO with 256MB will become $10 more expensive, whereas the “Powered by ATI” products will become $20 cheaper.
I now wonder what will happen to TV-tuner cards, FIRE GL professional graphics cards as well as other products “Built by ATI”. Let us wait for ATI’s official statement to find this out.