AMD Eyes PC-on-a-Chip with ATI Buy

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-07-24 Print this article Print

AMD's $5.4 billion acquisition of ATI technologies could yield the technology to build a PC-on-a-chip.

Advanced Micro Devices' plan to acquire ATI Technologies, could ultimately boil down to providing a simpler approach to building basic business PCs.

AMD's planned $5.4 billion acquisition of ATI, announced July 24, will cap several recent announcements by the Sunnyvale, Calif., chip maker.

All of the efforts focus on packing more technology into PCs and servers that use AMD chips. The company's Torrenza program, for one, encourages third parties to build accelerator chips that plug into its platforms.

But the ATI acquisition will put a new spin on the recent efforts by offering even tighter integration between AMD processors and their supporting chips.

Ultimately, AMD aims to roll its own processor cores and ATI's graphics processors into one, creating new a type of PC-on-a-chip processors.

Meanwhile, through the tighter integration of its processors and supporting chips, AMD could offer price breaks and support programs, such as stability and reliability guarantees, that appeal to business PC makers such as Dell, HP and Lenovo, allowing it to compete more closely for corporate business with its larger rival, Intel.

Click here to read about AMD's quad-core chip and other technology plans.

But "the holy grail of integration for ATI and AMD is going to be an integrated processor—a combination of a graphics processor and a processor," said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research in Cave Creek, Ariz.

"I think that is, first and foremost, the most direct product result of this particular merger."

Indeed, enabling PC makers to build a low-cost commercial desktops using fewer chips is one potential market opportunity AMD could address by offering an integrated processor, said Bruce Shaw, director worldwide commercial marketing at AMD, in New York, where AMD announced its ATI acquisition.

"If you can get the cost down on the product itself, performance may not be the ultimate" when it comes to building a desktop, he said.

"That is one of the things that we're heavily looking at and saying, 'This gives us the ability to attach a market from a different vector that we had before."

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: AMD Eyes PC-on-a-Chip with ATI Buy

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET News.com, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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