|INSIDE ATI SILICON VALLEY|
ATI Technologies, Inc. is a global corporation founded in 1985 that has been producing graphics technology and revenues in excess of $1 billion in the most recent fiscal year. More than one year ago, nVidia was at the top of the graphics world with their Geforce4 series of cards, and ATI came out with the Radeon 9700 card, based on the r300 chip. ATI took the performance crown without dispute from nVidia, and the graphics world was turned upside down and forever changed. Ever since, the r3xx series of ATI cards have been amazing performers, and have evolved into the other products such as the Radeon 9500, 9600, and 9800, all of which have established ATI as a new king in the graphics arena alongside nVidia, and ATI has become the new favorite of thousands in the enthusiast community.
Recently I was extended an invitation to visit one of the ATI facilities in Santa Clara, California, and take a tour of their research facility there. The research facility housed the team of engineers who had previously worked for ArtX, the company that had the contract for the “Flipper” video chip that handled the graphics and sound in the GameCube, and later went on to design the r300 series of chips. In the year 2000 they were bought out in a deal estimated to be valued at $400 million dollars. They had just moved into their new building in Santa Clara, as was evident by the occasional missing ceiling panel or empty cubicle or office, and unfortunately did not have the ATI sign outside the building yet to replace the old one.
The building used to belong to Nortel Networks at the entrance near the visitor’s parking lot, there one lone sign next to the door.
I took the elevator up to the 5th floor, followed the signs, and ended up in a small lobby. I knew I was in the right place when I saw the banner on the railing above me reading “ATI Research Silicon Valley, Inc”. After waiting a couple of minutes, Raja Koduri came down to meet me, and a few minutes after that Eric Demers, the Hardware engineering manager, came down to meet me. He showed me the way to a conference room on the first floor, and presented me with some swag ATI gear, including a backpack, a bunch of t-shirts (including two that subtly poke fun at nVidia for the nv30's performance and noise), a few keychains, and a r300 testing chip
Once we got introductions out of the way and had a quick chat about the facility and what sort of work was done there, we took the elevator up to the 6th floor to see a couple of their labs.
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