It has been an exciting year in the computer industry. There were a number of technologies and events that stirred up the world of bus technology, Megahertz and pipelines. This all ultimately affected the motherboard market. The introduction of the PCI Express bus, a key inflection point in the industry which induced the replacement to the AGP bus, has created huge demands in the OEM market but has left retail consumers with little supply and choice. AMD has become the choice processor for gaming oriented PCs due to their exceptional gaming performance. This has earned them, for the first time, a larger market share in the retail market. Finally the re-introduction of “SLI” technology from nVidia permitted by the aforementioned new PCI-E bus has caused buzzing excitement and buzzing debates.
All these factors affect ATI in the introduction of their new AMD chipset. This is actually ATI’s second AMD chipset; the first was the IGP 320 that offered integrated graphics in the form of Radeon 7000 and was introduced way back in 2001. The IGP 320 did not appear in many desktop motherboards, if any at all but was quite successful with its mobile variant, the IGP 320M. Since this time, ATI has introduced two other chipsets but only for the Intel segment in the form of Radeon 9100 IGP and Radeon 9100 IGP Pro. These chipsets were aimed at the value oriented market and caused very little excitement for gaming platforms. The main draw was in the integrated graphics that provided DirectX 8.1 capability and Radeon 9000 SE level performance.
You may be asking why ATI is releasing an AMD product now when it has produced Intel chipsets for the past two generations. A number of factors make this the perfect time for ATI to support AMD processors. ATI associates itself closely with the gaming community as it provides leading graphics solutions targeted at gamers. Gamers are choosing AMD processors and ATI wants their motherboards to be the ones powering it. AMD is also trying to penetrate new markets, such as the enterprise market, where Intel currently has a dominant stronghold. The second reason is due to the introduction of PCI Express. Those looking to upgrade should want to future proof their PCs as AGP is now being phased out. Lastly, there is limited growth potential in the Intel market even though Intel processors power far more of the market. This is due to Intel offering their own chipsets that dominate the majority of the chipset market. They have control over bus licenses and therefore have no reason to allow competitors to overtake them. In the complete opposite spectrum there is AMD, whom have no chipsets of their own. They therefore welcome other chipset designers to provide solid chipsets to compete with Intel’s offerings.
ATI is releasing the Radeon Xpress 200 chipset line to cover the broad market spectrum that AMD will be hitting.