Nvidia Explains Problems of ATI, AMD's Graphics Product Group

Nvidia's Chief Scientist Claims AMD Does Not Have Money to Survive

by Anton Shilov
05/02/2008 | 11:18 PM

The chief scientist of Nvidia Corp., the world's largest supplier of standalone graphics processors for personal computers, said in an interview that ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices and the arch-rival of Nvidia, did not have competitive products and that AMD did not have money to deliver on its promises.


"AMD has been declining because it hasn’t built a competitive graphics architecture for almost two years now - ever since the AMD/ATI merger. They’ve been pulling engineers [from the GPU teams] to Fusion, which integrates GPU technology onto the CPU. They have to do four things to survive, but I don’t think they have enough money to do one thing," said David Kirk, the chief scientist at Nvidia, in an interview with Bit-tech web-site.

Even though the management team at Advanced Micro Devices has achieved the lowest market share in more than half of the decade for ATI in just about 1.5 years, there is a number of achievements that ATI's engineers managed to concquer in the recent quarters, including introduction of the world's first DirectX 10.1 graphics processor, a breed of graphics chips with built-in audio controllers as well as some other things. Still, Mr. Kirk believes that graphics cards like ATI Radeon HD 3870 and 3870 X2 are not competitive, for which there is a reason: Nvidia's discrete GPU business grew 80% year-over-year in Q4 2007, well ahead of market trends.

But there are more problems at AMD than just graphics processing units (GPUs), the chief scientist of Nvidia reminds: AMD has to develop numerous products and fabrication technologies to stay competitive against Intel, Nvidia as well as other companies. 

"The first thing they have to do to compete with Intel is the process technology – they have to build the new fabs. The second thing is the next-generation CPU technology. The third one is the next generation GPU technology - we’re going to invest one billion dollars in here this year and they need to invest on the same level to keep up with us. And then the fourth thing is they say the future is going to be this integrated CPU/GPU thing called Fusion, which there’s no evidence to suggest this is true but they just said it. They believe it and they’re now doing it," Mr. Kirk said.

AMD has been developing process technologies together with Chartered and IBM for several years and it did not have to build a fab for this reason. Morever, code-named Fusion processors integrate already available CPU and GPU technology, which does not require any research and development, but implementation work. Nevertheless, it is true that AMD has to compete against two strong players: Intel Corp. and Nvidia, which is not an easy task considering that both are very strong at the moment.

Even though AMD has not been profitable in many quarters, the company is working to improve its present stance. Unfortunately, in doing so AMD does not spend a lot of time talking about its achievements and future potential, but leaves this for third parties, who claim, based on market share figures, that AMD's market shares are shrinking across the board.