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AMD's Terry Makedon - Software Product Manager


by Stuart Davidson - 4th Mar 2008
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Terry Makedon

Allan | DH: Hi Terry thanks for taking the time to speak with us again, it has been a while since our last interview. For the five people on DH who don’t know you can you tell us your job position and daily duties with AMD. Incidentally how has the changeover with AMD been working out for you guys?

Terry: Hey Allan, thanks for the opportunity. Sure I would love to introduce myself, the business card says I am the Manager of Software Product Management for the Graphics Processing Group of AMD.  What it really means is that I am responsible for defining what Catalyst will look like in the future. Catalyst of course is the brand for the AMD’s GPU software and includes things like the display drivers, the Catalyst Control Center, and also new areas such as marketing for consumer level ATI Stream technology (more on that later)

I just found out I have been here (ATI and now AMD) since Feb 26 2001 – 8 years at it – by far the most time I have spent at any one job in my career, and I still remember DH when it first launched and the headaches you guys would give me with leaked drivers and stuff ;-)

ATI being part of AMD doesn’t impact my day to day activities but it definitely gives us much more interesting Engineering level product ideas for the future.

Just one final note I am now active on twitter and urge anyone interested in exclusive real time Catalyst updates (or just to say hi) to follow me on http://twitter.com/CatalystMaker

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: The release of Windows 7 is fast approaching with beta versions already available. How did ATI find the initial development process for that operating system compared to the same stage with Vista?

Terry: Our Windows 7 development has been coming along very smoothly, and we are fully positioned to take full advantage of the many new features found in the Windows 7 graphics driver model (WDDM 1.1).   Vista was HUGE in terms of difference for us (as it had a brand new driver architecture). Windows 7 on the other hand is not that drastically new. So in short, the development process is a lot smoother this time round than it was with Vista. I am a big fan of Windows 7 already. There are a lot of  reasons why users will want to make sure they are running with AMD hardware on Windows 7:
  • The Windows 7 AERO desktop was designed using the DirectX 10.1 API – And of course AMD offers DirectX 10.1 graphics hardware support
  • AMD’s Windows 7 graphics driver has full support for high fidelity graphics
  • AMD graphics accelerators and Windows 7 driver draws Windows more efficiently – saving system memory, providing a higher performance Windows experience
  • AMD’s Windows 7 graphics driver has support for the new Direct2D API – giving 3rd party applications the ability to make text look smoother and more readable
  • Great 3D gaming performance for single GPU and CrossFireX configurations
  • Stability – AMD’s graphics driver for Windows 7 delivers a rock solid Windows experience

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: Will end users see any difference in the Catalyst experience between Vista and Windows 7?

Terry: Sure – besides the new WDDM 1.1 driver features (some of which are listed above), we’re going to have lots of other great features in there as well.   Unfortunately it’s just too early to talk about them just yet!  But you can be sure that we’ll continue to deliver performance enhancements and new features for Windows 7 in our monthly Catalyst releases.

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: ATI Stream computing is pretty important to AMD at the moment but it is probably fair to say that Nvidia have been a little more successful at getting applications to end users with their CUDA Framework. The recent release of CoreCodec with Nvidia GPU acceleration being a prime example. How do you see OpenCL changing this situation for ATI?

Terry: We believe that while people have been experimenting with GPGPU computing in the past, in our conversations with application vendors and developers, time and time again, the question has come up: “When will there be a cross-platform GPGPU solution?” While proprietary offerings, such as CUDA, may be usable for prototyping and experimentation, what the industry has been demanding has been something like OpenCL. OpenCL allows developers and application vendors to write their code once and run across different vendors’ hardware and even on multi-core CPUs, such as the Phenom and Opteron. We see OpenCL and its integration into the ATI Stream SDK as THE catalytic event for mainstream adoption of GPGPU computing. With OpenCL, other proprietary implementations, such as CUDA will be a thing of the past.

A number of ISV end-user applications are leveraging ATI Stream technology today, including Arcsoft, Cyberlink, and Adobe.  With OpenCL, we expect a huge increase in available applications, and we are in the process of working with ISVs on this now.

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: What happened to Avivo Video Convertor for Vista 64bit?

Terry: A great example of an ATI Stream enabled application is the Avivo Video Converter (which basically converts one video format to another using the GPU to help accelerate the conversion). With Catalyst 8.12 we found issues on Vista 64bit with the Converter application, particularly with H.264 file format reader. Quite simply we were very anxious to release the converter that perhaps we overlooked some usability issues.  For a better user experience we are holding off Vista 64bit transcoding until we have an acceptable fix in a future Catalyst release. Remember the key is that it is a free application and available as part of Catalyst.

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: One of the major benefits on ATI cards is the HDMI audio solution but at this point to get that technology up and running we still need to install ATI and Realtek drivers separately. Has any thought been given to streamlining the process and having the DH: Realtek drivers bundled in the Catalyst install?

Terry: Short answer yes. In March we will have some new techniques in our drivers that will help the audio HDMI solution.

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: Ensuring that Catalyst drivers are optimised for the latest games is obviously a high priority but there are still occasions where “support” is lacking until several months after a game is released. Mirrors Edge for example was released on January 13th but it has yet to receive a full Crossfire profile, despite Catalyst 9.1 being released on January 29th. What are ATI doing to ensure scenarios such as this are few and far between?

Terry: There are a few instances where we don’t have good crossfire support from day one, and that can be based on a variety of reasons (the game developer didn’t give us the game pre-release to enable it or we overlooked a big title). So to address this we are working at a mechanism to let users tinker away at some settings in the driver and force games to run on 2, 3 or 4 GPU’s if they wish to.

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: You have been involved with ATI drivers for more than a few years now, in that time what do you see as being the biggest achievement ATI have made on a software level?

Terry: Let me give you a bit of an insider’s view. 9 years ago when I started working at ATI, I quickly found out that the company’s drivers were not the best in the industry.

 At about that same time there was a big effort in our software development group and our quality assurance teams to clean up our act, to invest in the proper tools and people required, and do whatever it took to make our software world class. Around the time of the Radeon 9700 launch (remember that !?!), all the pieces had started to fall in place. We launched Catalyst as the industry’s first unified software suite, we redefined what a user interface for GPU’s was, and we made a public commitment to release 12 Catalyst updates a year – all certified by Microsoft (to this day I have a public challenge to any other PC hardware manufacturer to match our commitment to public releases). Now we constantly get 3rd party stability reports that has us leading the pack for as far back as I can remember as having the most stable 3D GPU driver out there.

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: Will the recent restructuring within AMD have any impact on your ability to release monthly Catalyst updates?

Terry: Nope.

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: DriverHeaven partnered up a while ago with ATI folding @ home team. I noticed we broke the top 100 a while ago. How is that going ?

Terry: For anyone not familiar with what you are talking about I urge them to have a look at the Stanford Folding@Home (F@H) page where you can donate your spare CPU or GPU (or even Playstation3) cycles to scientific research. More info is here Folding@Home

You are correct the partner team of ATI and Driverheaven is currently the 53rd highest ranked team (out of over 6000 teams) and continuing to climb. We urge anyone that wants to contribute to please join our team
  1. Download the appropriate client
    1. For CPU http://folding.stanford.edu/English/Download
    2. For GPU http://folding.stanford.edu/English/DownloadWinOther
    3. For Playstation 3 its in your system menu already
  2. Join team 51394 after you install and run the client for the first time.
We look forward to all of your readers helping out a great cause we currently have 3302 people aligned to our team. I want to see that number double! Also as a side note the recently released Catalyst 9.2 has support for Crossfire GPU’s (more than one GPU in the system) and will provide added performance. For any questions please visit the dedicated F@H forum on DH HERE.

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: Any hints on what the next big thing for Catalyst will be?

Terry: To be honest a lot of the Catalyst team is focusing on Windows 7 to ensure we have kick ass drivers and repeat our domination of driver stability we had when Vista launched. We want to ensure that everyone that switches over to Windows 7 will have a seamless experience (I already have on one of my two PC’s).

DriverHeaven.net

Allan | DH: Thanks for your time, we would like to congratulate you as we know very shortly you are going to be a proud father, we will keep our DH guys posted when this happens!

Terry: Thank you so much to all the staff DriverHeaven and my good friend Allan (whom I have known since the first days of DH), and I cant wait to be a father in early May.

As a special gift to your readers I would like to give away a very rare collectible graphics card. Back in January 2006 we launched a contest with DH to give away 2 of 5 Dave Orton signed GPU’s (Dave was ATI’s former CEO by the way). The initial contest got 26,140 entries and 217,628 views …. WOW….. and here is a flash from the past DH Competition: Win An Extremely Rare Signed Dave Orton ATI Card In my drawer I have one more of these cards (not so useful for gaming any more but surely a gadget geek’s collectible dream object), and would like to offer it to a DriverHeaven reader. Same rules apply as in the original forum competition.

To enter it is simple head over HERE for details.

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