Over at Computex Taipei earlier this month, Hardware Zone had the pleasure of catching up with Dave E. Orton, ATI's newly appointed CEO. Mr. Orton was previously the President and COO of ATI and as of June 1, will succeed KY Ho as the CEO. Mr. Ho will remain as the Chairman of ATI Technologies and will move on to focus on ATI's strategic business relationships. During the interview, Mr. Orton shared with us ATI's vision and goals, as well as upcoming technologies like PCI Express and the highly successful RADEON X800 graphics series.
Joining us at the interview was Stanley Ossias, the Senior Product Manager of ATI's Desktop Discrete Graphics who helped shed some light on ATI's latest PCI Express technology and their graphics products.
HWZ : Hi Dave, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet us. You were the COO of ATI for more than 3.5 years and you've just recently been made the CEO of ATI. How are you fitting into your new role today? Is Computex the springboard for your new appointment?
I don't think ATI would use Computex as the springboard for anything other than the launch of our PCI Express product line. In terms of me taking the role of CEO, for those in the company, they recognize that KY and I have been working under an operational model within ATI for several years now. In many ways, the titles now are just catching up with the way we operate the company. KY is of course focused on strategic partners and relationships and I kind of focus on day-to-day, quarter and annual operations of the company. And so in many ways, this is really just reflecting that. Now I think over time, the team and the world will look for more than just that as an answer. But I think in the next 9 to 12 months, we're going to focus on really delivering what we have and we've been established as a company to deliver to the market over 2004 and 2005.
HWZ : If we take a look back in the year 1999 and 2000, ATI was behind NVIDIA in terms of market leadership, product performance and sales. What was the catalyst (no pun intended) that helped surge ATI forward?
Dave E. Orton - ATI's new CEO.
I think it's recognizing that performance leadership was the most critical aspect of a product company. If you want to be a semiconductor product company and you're not going to be basically just a low-cost provider for this industry, then you'll just have to do it through innovation and performance. So in a sense, we unleashed some of the bounds that we put on our design teams back in 1999 to 2000. [We told them that] we want to shoot for a higher target than what we're thinking today, in terms of development. That has been the key part. Now you look at the last four years, from the combination of people and software, like the Catalyst, it took all of these to bring ATI to where we are today. You can't look at any one inflection point to say that was the real driver [of this change]. It was a range of people, approaches, structure and organization, and vision. So it's all of the above.
HWZ : ATI seems to always stay ahead of their competition and you're constantly coming out with something better than your competitors. Is there some sort of a secret roadmap that you're not sharing with any of us?
Well that would be a secret then. (laughs) There's no doubt that the place where NVIDIA and ATI are lined is that they both recognize that it's an explosive market. The opportunities are unbounded if you can innovate, you can deliver products to the market that are creative and explosive in a sense. We set out a few years ago that the number one priority for us as a company, no matter what else, is product and technology leadership. And so for the development teams, we continued to challenge what were the assumptions, say four to six years ago in this industry, and push the envelope from the standpoint of feature set, die size, software capabilities, architectural innovation, packaging technology and process technology in order to deliver that ultimate visual experience to the high-end desktop. We're not taking our eyes off that goal. We're going to continue doing that but we'll keep some things under the cover in order to surprise the industry.