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There are rumours floating around the Internet that Advanced Micro Devices may cease to use ATI brand for its graphics products. Even though some believe that this will strengthen the corporate "AMD" trademark, in reality this may be the worst branding decision ever made by the company.

Consumers Love Brands

The Sunnyvale, California-based supplier of central processing units (CPU) acquired ATI Technologies back in 2006 with a bid to start offering complete platforms consisting of core-logic sets and microprocessors as well as in order to integrate graphics processing units (GPUs) and CPUs into a single piece of silicon. As a result of the acquisition, the company decided to put its own trademark onto AMD-compatible chipsets as well as onto consumer products, such as Imageon for mobile phones and Xilleon for digital TVs (in fact, while some consumer electronics companies saw value in ATI brand, they have never put AMD logo onto their devices), but decided to keep calling graphics cards as ATI Radeon. Later on the company had to sell off mobile graphics as well as DTV business units due to poor execution and bad need for money. The rumour mill says that now AMD wants to reject the ATI brand.

Even though many say that it is not necessary to pay for well-known brands, consumers love recognizable labels and trademarks and are willing to pay for them. The reasons are pretty simple: well-known brands are associated with high quality, performance, experience and are generally recognizable. As a result, Volkswagen Group retains brands like Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Seat, etc; whereas LVMH holding preserves tens of brands that ultimately compete against each other. The reasons for that are pretty obvious: loads of money are invested into creation of a brand and its support. Many consumers have either acquired or simply know from advertisements that ATI produces graphics cards, whereas Moët et Chandon makes champagne; hence, LVMH will hardly start selling something like "Louis Vuitton Moët Hennesy Brut Imprerial". It is noteworthy that when Rackable acquired SGI in 2009, it actually decided to use SGI name instead of its own due to the value of the brand.

Some History

Found in 1985, Array Technologies Inc. (ATI Technologies later on) has always been associated with graphics processors and multimedia. Moreover, throughout the larger part of its history ATI has been associated with innovations and leading edge performance. ATI introduced numerous "world's first" and thanks to 25 years  history it is recognized as a respectable supplier of graphics adapters. In fact, only in the most recent decade ATI held graphics performance crown in seven years out of ten. Besides, at present the world's most powerful graphics card is ATI Radeon 5970, which greatly attracts gamers and performance-minded users. In Q2 2010 graphics business products group (GPG) of AMD shipped over 50% of the world's discrete GPUs, a clear indicator than ATI is better known on graphics boards market than AMD on microprocessor market.

Established in 1969, Advanced Micro Devices was used to be a second source of chips developed by Intel Corp. and later a maker of inexpensive microprocessors. The situation changed significantly in late 1999 with the introduction of the Athlon chip, but the chipmaker only managed to retain performance leadership in 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006. At present AMD is concentrating on platformization of its offerings and cannot offer CPUs that would successfully compete against Intel's top-of-the-range offerings.

All-in-all, ATI label is associated with graphics performance and leadership (both in terms of performance and market share), whereas AMD brand is associated with inexpensive chips found in 19% of today's x86-based systems.

Ramifications of ATI Brand Drop

But there are more issues than just the value of the brand for the particular market. For many years Intel used ATI Radeon graphics boards for public performance measurements, in addition, the large chipmaker helped to advertize Intel- and ATI-based personal computers. In fact, ATI was invited to Intel Developer Forums even after it was acquired by AMD. Will the world's largest chipmaker in some ways help to promote personal computers with "AMD Radeon", thus helping its arch-enemy to gain brand recognition? Will it invite AMD to take part of IDF? At present ATI commands 51.1% of discrete GPU market and 24.5% of all graphics adapters market, thus, ATI Radeon boards are installed into Intel-based systems and GPG's market performance is not limited to market share of AMD platforms. If ATI logo is dropped in favour of AMD's, so will likely market share of the graphics division.

It should be noted that with the dawn of the accelerated processing unit (APU) era it would make sense for AMD to sell them under one single trademark since AMD Fusion 2000 with ATI Radeon HD 5610 graphics core does  not sound easy for average consumers. Still, when selling chipsets AMD barely notes the class of the integrated graphics core and it hardly will in the Fusion era.

For years both AMD and Intel "borrowed" numerous technical and marketing solutions from each other. AMD went platformization route, just like Intel, whereas the latter integrated memory controller into its microprocessors and introduced point-to-point interconnection for multi-socket platforms. Intel is unlikely to drop Havok or McAfee brands despite of the fact that Intel is among the world's most known trademarks. The reason is simple: Intel is not known for cross-platform middleware or antivirus software. Will AMD, which is not known for graphics processors, dare to drop the very well known ATI trademark?

For over a quarter of a century ATI has been a renowned graphics brand, whereas AMD has been known for microprocessors. Although Bentley is owned by Volkswagen Group, the Continental GT is still Bentley Continental GT, not Volkswagen Continental GT or Volkswagen Bentley Continental GT. Rebranding "ATI Radeon" premium graphics label into anything else will require AMD to do something it has never been truly keen of: to greatly alter its advertising and marketing initiatives so that to tell the market that the heritage of ATI is still there and the Radeon GPUs are still premium computer components, not inexpensive solutions with nice price to performance ratio. Perhaps, some things should just remain as they is?

AMD did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: ATI, AMD, Radeon, Business


Comments currently: 30
Discussion started: 08/24/10 10:07:19 AM
Latest comment: 08/27/10 02:55:38 PM
Expand all threads | Collapse all threads


AMD, DO NOT FUCKING do this! Don't drop the ATi brand name. This could be the WORST possible decision that can ever be made. There will be backlash from computer communities everywhere who know what ATi is and would want to keep it that way if AMD drops ATi brand.

And it will be bloody next to impossible to change it from ATi to AMD Radeon. People with real basic knowledge of computers will know who ATi and nVidia are because their names have been plastered into Futureshop and BestBuy flyers and everywhere on the internet where computers are involved.

0 0 [Posted by: RtFusion  | Date: 08/24/10 10:07:19 AM]
- collapse thread

Unless someone wants to ride Volkswagen Murcielago, then the change is hardly valid.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 08/24/10 04:25:45 PM]
You're over reacting. People buy video cards not because their name but because of their performance/price tag. If some other no-name company will step in with a better product than nvidia and ati, it will be my favorite. Unless you're a fanboy and discussion end here. Btw, the comparison with car brands is kinda forced here. You cannot compare apples with grapes, even if both of them are fruits...Think about it.
0 0 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 08/25/10 05:17:00 AM]
No, not a fanboy (actually, I used to be more of an nVidia fanboy back then, just a performance/watt/dollar person now). It's just the brand ATi has been around for such a long time and I would hate it if AMD were to put that under the rug. Although they are both fruits, which sounds tastier and more familiar to a customer? I see where you are trying to get at, but I still disagree.
0 0 [Posted by: RtFusion  | Date: 08/25/10 09:49:58 AM]
Well, there is/was a server maker called Rackable, which acquired Silicon Graphics Inc. and then renamed the new company to SGI, which now stands for Silicon Graphics International ;-) Oracle dropped "Sun" from "Sun Solaris", but continues to sell Servers under Sun trademark.

Dell continues to use Alienware name, HP continues to use Voodoo brand. Even Via Technologies continues to use the name S3 Graphics. There are many other examples. Cars and luxury goods examples just show that one holding company can use many trademarks that can even compete against each other.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 08/25/10 11:25:21 AM]

If true, its the worst brand decision since dropping the "Duron" name.
0 0 [Posted by: DIREWOLF75  | Date: 08/24/10 11:30:59 AM]
- collapse thread

True .... Duron stick with good value investement reputation, while Semprons were always rejects. But they need rejects as all Athlons64 were in fact rejects when server brand Opteron came into market.

Anyway good for them that they stick with recognizable Athlon brand at least. Even thou it's more of Intel's, than AMD's, decision when they preserve recognizable Pentium name :giggle:
0 0 [Posted by: OmegaHuman  | Date: 08/24/10 03:34:13 PM]
Duron in general was not an adequate brand. First of all, it resembles another durability name "Durex" and, secondly, in Russian it means some kind of derivative from "fool". Sempron is hardly a proper name as well.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 08/24/10 04:24:32 PM]

My 2 cents: if this happens, they should fire the whole marketing department. Any decent blogger would do a better job of promoting their products.
0 0 [Posted by: dragosmp  | Date: 08/24/10 12:56:15 PM]
- collapse thread

LOL they should change their marketing department on 3 month lease procedure. If they dont provide visible market gain/profits for one quarter they should be scraped and reassembled (two good quarters in a row should get them one quarter bonus)

And they should never stick long than3yrs period (Marketing team A supstituted by B1-B2-B3)
Yep change winning team AMD! If you ever had one :giggle:
0 0 [Posted by: OmegaHuman  | Date: 08/24/10 03:38:51 PM]

I totally agree with you, Anton. You raise many valid points.

I can't believe AMD would drop the ATI brand just at the moment when ATI is enjoying its greatest technical and sales success in years against NVidia.

There is of course no problem with Fusion APU marketing. Anything wrong about "AMD Fusion processor with built-in ATI graphics"?
0 0 [Posted by: BernardP  | Date: 08/24/10 01:24:47 PM]
- collapse thread

"Anything wrong about 'AMD Fusion processor with built-in ATI graphics'?"

In case of Fusion, they will have to classify both CPU and GPU performance somehow. It will still makes sens for ads to write "AMD Fusion with built-in ATI Radeon graphics", but when it comes to actual products, they will need a single name with a product model number.

AMD still needs to separate Llano from Ontario due to completely different positioning, but something tells me that AMD will likely stick to a single trademark and its traditional model numbering scheme that tells nothing about performance.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 08/24/10 04:38:44 PM]


DAAMIT Radeon 6870
0 0 [Posted by: lh3nry  | Date: 08/24/10 03:30:08 PM]

maybe now if AMD takes over the name the driver dept will also be overhauled and ATI can get some decent drivers.

"I can't believe AMD would drop the ATI brand just at the moment when ATI is enjoying its greatest technical and sales success in years against NVidia."

ATI had a 9 month span where there was no competition in the DX11 market and they still barely have 50%; now NVIDIA is back in full swing. The GTX 460 is AMD/ATI's worst nightmare for performance vs price. ATI/AMD just keeps doubling performance specs (4k, 5k and soon to be 6k series) while NVIDIA works on a new architecture, this takes a little while...
0 0 [Posted by: LedHed  | Date: 08/24/10 04:23:06 PM]
- collapse thread

ATI had a 9 month span where there was no competition in the DX11 market and they still barely have 50%
"The increase in unit shipments was hampered due to continued supply constraints with respect to our latest generation GPUs introduced in the second half of 2009 and the first half of 2010. These supply constraints were primarily related to constrained wafer foundry capacity in the first half of 2010. GPU average selling price increased due to a favorable shift in our product mix to higher end GPU products."

now NVIDIA is back in full swing. The GTX 460 is AMD/ATI's worst nightmare for performance vs price.

Really? Why doesn't Nvidia itself believe it?

Nvidia's "outlook for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 is as follows: revenue is expected to be up 3 to 5 percent from the second quarter.

In Q2 sales of Nvidia discrete GPUs were between $300 and $400 million.

AMD's ATI unit earned $440 to $470 million on disrete GPUs in Q2 2011.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 08/25/10 04:09:34 AM]

It's just a name. Even if they change it no one will care in a couple of years. I don't see Nvidia keeping the 3dfx trademark.
0 0 [Posted by: FLA  | Date: 08/24/10 09:21:54 PM]
- collapse thread

Nvidia and 3dfx is a bit different story. Nvidia aquired one their direct rivals, there is no reason to keep 3dfx alive at time, when everyone knew, that 3dfx is dying, it's much easier to say: "Hi, 3dfx is dead, now we rule!"
0 0 [Posted by: ruukjis  | Date: 08/25/10 02:12:07 AM]
I agree... whats the big deal
0 0 [Posted by: taltamir  | Date: 08/26/10 01:33:39 PM]

As an opinion: ATi must survive!
Also I like ATi to have a special very impressive WEBSITE for itself. Graphics leading these days without a graphical website for consumers is not attractive at all.
The current website of AMD is usable but against Intel's website and NVIDIA's it's very awful...
0 0 [Posted by: Pouria  | Date: 08/25/10 01:55:07 AM]

i dont think amd will drop the ati brand, but it might drop it on ther Fusion APUs, but not on Discrete, but still, its kinda bad as ATI is a hugely known name for multimedia and high performance graphics cards

AMD Fusion HD might be alot better name for AMD's APUs/Fusion chips

Fusion isnt that another name for combined? hehe

they should do like Microsoft did, they called their os Windows 7 aka same as its codename ;P
0 0 [Posted by: wiak  | Date: 08/25/10 05:01:27 AM]

yahhh!!! go AMD kill ATI! One shall stand, one shall fall!
0 0 [Posted by: dudde  | Date: 08/25/10 09:16:52 AM]

Jen-Hsun Huang loves the idea. So go AMD. Shoot yourself in the head.
0 0 [Posted by: john_gre  | Date: 08/26/10 12:35:34 AM]

Guess what, it will be just like this. Radeon HD 6xxx. Now that wasnt hard, wasnt it?
0 0 [Posted by: bereft  | Date: 08/26/10 02:40:17 PM]
- collapse thread

AMD Radeon HD 6000 = Volkswagen Murcielago LP640. Is that hard?
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 08/26/10 03:45:58 PM]

Hey Anton, did it ever passed by your mind that AMD will kick Intels ass on the Mainstream Desktop with the 8core Zambezis and delivering a superior Mainstream platform with AMD Bulldozer CPUs,AMD Chipsets and AMD Radeon HD Graphics? Ofcourse not...
0 0 [Posted by: bereft  | Date: 08/26/10 02:57:43 PM]
- collapse thread

No, I have never thought that AMD may have plans to sell its top-of-the-range 8-core chip at a mainstream price.

Considering the fact that Bulldozer's modules are not as efficient as true dual-core chips and the fact that Bulldozer cores are not much more efficient than today's K10.5 cores, I am not sure whether 8-core Bulldozer will beat Intel's 6-core Sandy Bridge EX.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 08/26/10 03:50:51 PM]
I knew that you knew about knowing better about Bulldozer even from AMDs engineers just from the little pieces of info and slick slides, i guess you'll be ready for a big surprise when the time comes.
0 0 [Posted by: bereft  | Date: 08/26/10 07:56:25 PM]
dream on boy! bulldozer will be another "barcelona"-flop for AMD! Until AMD comes up with the actual chip and that they have been reviewed and benchmarked, the talk about Bulldozer being awesome is just another big fart from AMD. Bulldozer will still remain to be a vaporware for several more months to come!
0 0 [Posted by: dudde  | Date: 08/27/10 12:00:46 AM]

I hope they don't do this. Many of us have grown up liking ATI and it wouldn't be very good to alienate those who have grown accustomed to ATI. If they dropped this brand I will not be buying from them any more. It is a matter of trust as well. We have seen to many good brands gone under like STB or 3DFX ect. I miss the Amiga they were very very good.
0 0 [Posted by: nforce4max  | Date: 08/27/10 12:03:44 PM]

huh? AMD Radeon HD? What is it? Some kind of newcomer? I see now only nVidia as experienced player because the other one strangely dissapear into oblivion, who knows what exactly the graphics consumer needs, let's go for it
0 0 [Posted by: am_drs  | Date: 08/27/10 02:55:38 PM]


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