ATI nonplussed by Intel, plans low-cost chip

ATI said today it is unfazed by the arrival of Intel's 740 graphics accelerator

The graphics chip maker has shipped two million AGP parts and owns about half the market, a remarkable success in the highly competitive graphics arena. It counts Compaq, Dell and NEC among its OEMs.

"The ATI Rage Pro has significant advantages over the 740, including higher quality, a well-rounded feature set, and better all around performance," said ATI UK country manager Simon Greer.

"We have the lion's share of the AGP market. Obviously we take Intel seriously as a competitor but we are planning for continued serious growth in 1998 and beyond."

Greer said the Rage Pro has better 2D performance, making it more attractive for business buyers, as well as a more complete driver set, PCI support and superior MPEG playback.

"Intel is a very strong company and the 740 is good but not great. They have the fabs and the manufacturing and will definitely impact the graphics business overall, but I think companies like S3, Matrox and Cirrus Logic are more vulnerable. They're the ones who've missed out one or two technology generations."

Greer said that some vendors may pursue new directions to avoid a scrap with Intel.

"Cirrus has already gone into maintenance mode on 3D and is looking more into multimedia chip integration. We have all looked at it but it slows down your roadmap. The approvals are a nightmare in communications, for example."

He also said that although the Intel name has huge power but could also be off-putting to some makers.

"Not everybody wants to be tied up to Intel. Graphics moves incredibly quickly and you need to be very nimble."

Separately, ATI said it expects to have volume availability in April of its Rage IIC AGP chip aimed at low-cost systems.