HH: How did you come to work for ZOTAC, were you working in the industry before?
Simon: I left ATI Technologies in 2003 (after nearly 10 years) and joined PC Partner (with my former colleague Norbert Kuperjans) to help set up their OEM team, which supplies the large PC OEM’s with their graphics boards. ZOTAC was a new brand created in 2007 to leverage our relationship with Nvidia. As I was local and experienced with the channel from my previous career, we decided it would be logical to implement a team around the infrastructure we had in place. Channel works to a different frequency to OEM, but at the end of the day it is people that drive things forward and our team are great at doing that.
HH: It has been quite a wait for the launch of ZOTAC's new GTX 480/470. Do you feel it has been worth it?
Simon: Good things come to those who wait! Seriously, a new generation of products takes a long time and it is not a process that can be hurried. As the technology boundaries are taken to the next level, the complexities are increased, which means that industry wide co-operation with chip foundries, and software vendors becomes a bigger task than ever. I believe Nvidia have made some excellent progress in bringing workstation level graphics to the consumer.
HH: What do you feel is the number one feature of the new cards?
Simon: Personally I think "Hardware Tessellation" stands out as the biggest changes in technology in this new generation. It’s about adding more detail in 3D objects by increasing the polygon count to get more detail.
HH: What is main reason someone with a ZOTAC GTX 285/295 should upgrade to your new cards?
Simon: It really depends on what they want to do with their PC. A GTX 285 and GTX 295 are great solutions and will run all games extremely well, however if someone wants to take advantage of the new DX 11 features or is building a new PC then Nvidia DX11 boards make for a sound investment.
HH: Could you give us a breakdown of the models you will be offering and the RRP we can expect?
Simon: We will launch with the GTX 480 @ £439.99 and the GTX 470 @ £319.99. The AMP versions will be announced later on in the quarter.
HH: At launch your cards follow the reference design which makes them similar to other brands. What are you doing to differentiate your models from the competition?
Simon: Our models differentiate with a complete hardware accessory bundle that includes necessary output and power adapters, ZOTAC Boost software bundle on NVIDIA CUDA ready products and our global extended warranty program where the user gets a free upgrade of the warranty period up to 5 years.
HH: Are there any plans for ZOTAC enhanced models with higher spec cooling or overclocks in the near future? If so, do you have a timeframe for release and how much freedom have NVIDIA given you on the PCB/Product design?
Simon: Generally speaking, in addition to our standard ZOTAC GeForce lineup, we offer enhanced products that cater to specific needs such as our water-cooling ready Infinity Edition, factory overclocked AMP! Editions, passive-cooled ZONE Editions and energy-efficient ECO Editions. We are always planning new enhanced models for each NVIDIA launch, however, you will have to wait and see for the results.
On the GTX470 and GTX480 especially we will definitely have an AMP! Edition and we are working in fact on a special version which we cannot reveal at this point in time.
HH: Looking at the wider product catalogue, the new ZBOX is an interesting product. Can you explain the main benefits of this product to our readers (when compared with other ION AIO systems)?
Simon: Our ZBOX customizable mini-PCs are designed for the enthusiasts looking for an energy-efficient system for their mini-PC needs, whether it’s a fully-featured HTPC, kitchen PC, garage PC or anywhere else they need a computer, our ZBOX delivers greater flexibility than other systems. Since the ZBOX is customizable, users can outfit it with their choice of SO-DIMM memory, 2.5-inch HDD or SSD option, or use existing hardware they already have available. We also offer a variety of different ZBOX models that deliver different levels of performance that will cater to different performance needs of users.
HH: You are one of the few NVIDIA partners who are making discrete ION cards. Tell us a little about the ION Upgrade kit and how it benefits consumers.
Simon: The ION Upgrade Kits are targeted towards people who are looking for an affordable small form factor platform with premium graphics capabilities but still demand more CPU power. This is why we offer our ION Upgrade Kits with Intel Atom processors, Intel LGA775 socket and AMD Socket AM2+ motherboards so users can choose which platform is better suited for their needs.
The ION Graphics Card that forms the heart of the ION Upgrade Kit enables end users to take advantage of high-definition video playback with Blu-ray, AVC and Adobe Flash content and compatibility with NVIDIA CUDA enhanced image editing, video processing and other applications while being very energy efficient. End users can gain these performance enhancements even if they don’t have a full-speed PCI Express x16 slot. Our ION Graphics Card installs in standard PCI Express x1 slots, which is now available on nearly every motherboard.
HH: Are there any interesting peeks at upcoming ZOTAC products you would like to share with our audience?
Simon: We are always hard at work on new products, especially with our small form factor platforms and mini-PCs, however, you will just have to wait and see.
HH: Thanks for your time, before we finish up anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Simon: Thank you for the trust in ZOTAC, we will continue to do the best we can to deliver products that suit the needs of our users. You can follow us on Twitter (ZOTAC) and Facebook (ZOTAC) for the latest information, updates and giveaways.