Bill Donnelly, Sapphire Global PR Director
The Sapphire series of ATI video cards are well known in the industry for being some of the finest on the market – we sat down with Bill Donnelly their Global PR director and had a chat about Sapphire products, focusing on several areas.
Allan “Hi Bill,.thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. You guys are really high on the public radar right now with the release of the wonderful 5870 Vapor X card which won our top award on DH. I know the lack of stock of the 58xx series must be killing you guys.”
Bill “Yes we are seeing a great demand for these high end products and the initial shipments sold out very quickly. I believe we should have another batch out before Christmas though, and the 5700 series is flowing rather better.”
Allan “The 5770 is one of my personal favourite cards right now and the performance when overclocked rivals the 4870 before it, is this is a big seller for Sapphire? I know you used to be heavily into overclocking have you ever tried them in Crossfire. What would be your own personal choice of card from the new series?”
Bill: “Well both the cards in the HD 5700 series hit real sweet spots on price – and of course support all the great features like DirectX 11 and ATI Eyefinity over three monitors, so they are doing really well. We are just introducing a new Vapor-X model of the HD 5770 which we know will be a great success as it runs cooler and quieter than the standard model, and will overclock even better. Two of these in CrossFire deliver great performance because you effectively have twice the frame buffer as well as the two GPU’s. Most of the popular games scale really well with the latest drivers.”
Allan: “There are some concerns in regards to the Vapor chamber patent, we read some issues about the Vapor chambers coming under legal action, this isn’t affecting you at all then?”
Bill: “Yes – as I just said, we continue to add new models to our Vapor-X family. We have already stated publicly that our Vapor-X coolers come from Microloops and were developed specially for the graphics application.”
Allan: “The 5970 is a beast, we recently reviewed the Sapphire version based on the reference model. We think the card is great, but its a bit noisy and runs a little hot, are Sapphire planning on bringing out a Vapor X version soon? What difficulties has this given you guys in regards to the hot running dual core design?”
Bill: “Bill: Well, actually the AMD reference design already has a vapor chamber module in it. I agree it still runs quite hot under load and the fan is a little noisy, but still within acceptable limits. We already ship our version with a slight overclock compared with the standard specification and offer the Redline voltage tweaker for the enthusiast to take it even further. So, while the product is still in limited supply we have no plans yet to announce any other Special Editions.”
Allan: “Sapphire are well known to bring to market some of the finest coolers for their video cards. How much research and development goes into this? especially considering ATI really don’t seem to make any effort at all with their reference coolers?”
Bill: “Bill: Well we have a lot of focus on this. We have a dedicated team in Taiwan who do a lot of the development work and liaise with our cooler vendors and the factory. We also have a wealth of experience in our marketing team – My colleagues and I have all worked in the industry for a while and can provide both input about desirable characteristics and feedback about performance back into the design process.”
Allan: “The Sapphire power supplies have been a big success with our community, do Sapphire have any other plans to enter into other markets?
Bill: “Bill: Both our Product Team and our Marketing Team are always on the lookout for new areas of opportunity that complement our existing activities. I guess in the current economic climate, though, it is not the best time to be branching out too far, and we have kept the focus on our core business.”
Allan: “Not sure if you saw the “MARS card” that was released a while ago from Asus which was basically 2x 2GB 285’s slammed into one board. Would Sapphire ever contemplate doing something like this with an ATI design outside reference specs?”
Bill: “Well, you have to remember that we have been the pioneers in this kind of thing. We had the first Dual GPU card way back with the X1950 Dual, and then the 2600 Gemini before the later X2 products became standard designs. Our ATOMIC series used special coolers – three watercooled generations before the later Vapor-X based ones – all achieving specifications higher than the reference designs. So I just have to say ‘watch his space’ !”
Allan: “Do you guys have anything cool lined up for CES in January, are you excited about any of the upcoming products in 2010. Pretty sure you can’t talk about them, but any teaser information you can pass onto our audience?
Bill: CES is really too soon for anything other than ramping up our HD 5000 series products. I think CeBit time could get a little more interesting !”