ATI picks up Nvidia’s bad habits

Is renaming here to stay?

ATI logoIT LOOKS LIKE tech is mirroring politics, with slimy behavior pushed by the unethical, then picked up by everyone else sooner or later. This time, ATI is renaming their product line, but not nearly as unashamedly as Nvidia.

If you recall, last week DAMMIT didn’t announce their not new at all all new mobile parts, the 500v line. It is obviously a play on the actually new 5000 series, with the old 4000 series parts. Not that they are bad, it is just that the older ones are only DX10.1. It makes the ATI naming convention of first digit = series, second = level of performance, last two = relative performance in the level seem rather pointless.

The all new not new at all 500v series does have one saving grace, it is differentiated enough so it won’t confuse the casual onlooker. Think of it more as an a way to fill holes in a line rather than to intentionally confuse and defraud unknowing consumers. For that, you would have to do this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this.

If you look at the specs of the new 530v, 540v and 550v, the first two are the same as the older HD5145, and the 550v is a dead ringer for the older 5165. The clocks may be tweaked a bit, but the silicon is the same.

Why did DAAMIT do this? Well, there are a bunch of reasons, the most notable is TSMC’s inability to deliver an adequate volume of 40nm wafer starts more than 18 months after the intended launch of the process. This precludes large volumes of 40nm products, so they are shunted off to the higher margin SKUs, and the low end get the recycled ‘goodies’. Once again, these aren’t bad parts, but it would be nice if everything was OpenGL 4.0 and OpenCL capable.

The other problem is that AMD does not have a OpenGL 4.0 and OpenCL (and that X spec something) capable integrated chipset. Why? It simply isn’t worth developing one with Llano on the horizon. By the end of 2010, the space that was held by integrated chipsets will be dead and gone, so why come out with a new generation of chipsets that will never be used?

ATI wisely skipped this generation, and put out a part that is a tarted up 785G and called it the 890G. It is a great chipset, but only has some minor improvements, an IOMMU being chief among them. Certain other companies whine about being kept out of a dying market, but that is just bluster and show for certain authorities, integrated graphics chipsets are dead and gone, don’t weep for them.

Because of this, there was no new 52xx chipset, so ATI had to put something there, and they did. The 5145 is just that, the mildly tarted up 890G, but it was new silicon. The new 500v line isn’t, but it doesn’t totally pretend to be.

Given that ATI took steps to not confuse people that much, the renaming doesn’t strike me as sleazy, unethical, and every other word that you would describe Nvidia’s 1xx, low end 2xx and entire 3xx line as, but this still leaves a bad taste in your mouth. ATI should not have sunk to Nvidia’s level, even if they are only ankle deep in sleaze, it leaves them with unclean hands. Welcome to modern business. S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate