John Bruno is the man at ATI who is responsible for the design of the ASICs (application specific integrated circuits) on ATI motherboards. More recently has stepped into a wider role, being tasked with helping to design ATI's new line of boards to be more enthusiast friendly. We caught up with him on email to ping some questions in his direction.
CrossFire motherboards on the horizon
The RD480 is ATI's CrossFire motherboard, which is due to hit the shelves of retailers and e-tailers sometime in the next month. We've had a long wait since the boards were originally announced back in June, and the anticipation is running high. How does John think the boards are going to be received when punters get their hands on them?
"I think enthusiasts will like the boards a lot. The major selling points are performance, overclockability and stability. Some sites have seen early previews of a Sapphire PURE board, and initial indications are that we are delivering chipsets to the market that are faster than the competition. Not only that, we're doing it at a very competitive price."
ATI are keen for their motherboards to be seen as the new choice for high-end hardware enthusiasts and gamers, but their previous boards have been a little lacking, in our opinion. What unique selling factors will we see on ATI boards going forward?
"Well, one of the big sells is the integrated Azalia HD audio, which has a sound quality rivaling high end discrete solutions.
"Of course, the biggest cool thing is CrossFire support, which means that 100% of games will derive a clear benefit from the addition of a second card. Can you imagine the disappointment a customer would feel if they spent an additional $600 on a second graphic card for their system and got ZERO frames per second increase, or even a decrease? Our solution delivers the complete package - and that gives us a unique advantage in the marketplace."
Azalia on AMD!
This requires a little bit of clarification. Azalia audio is a specification touted by Intel, and has previously only been available on Intel mainboards such as the 955X. Does this mean we will see reference designs from ATI that will see Azalia on AMD platforms too?
"Azalia HD audio is a feature of the SB450 southbridge and therefore can be implemented on any system using it, regardless of whether it's AMD or Intel based. ATI believes in giving the option to the board partner who can then decide which product best fits their target market."
This is undoubtedly rather cool - ATI will be delivering the first Azalia HD solution for audio on AMD, making it a good choice for Microsoft Media Center machines as well as discerning gamers.