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ATI ditches TV division

Xilleon a gonner
Mon Jul 21 2008, 11:14

ONE OF THE LESSER mentioned aspects of AMD's disastrous last quarter has been the fact that AMD is completely dumping its TV and consumer chip business, which it acquired as part of ATI.

The company was widely reported last week to have lost $1.2 billion last quarter, but most have overlooked the fact that it's the complete abolition of the handheld and digital TV business that accounts for most of the loss: that aspect of ATI was valued at $876m when the company was acquired, and is now worth precisely diddly squat.

Just a year ago, the consumer and TV business was considered a growing - and crucial - part of ATI's chip portfolio. In fact, there were a good few quarters where the entire company was sustained just on the revenue from this division, particularly when desktop graphics sales were slow.

Its abolition, then, is a massive blow to those who worked at DAAMIT to create a series of entirely decent chips. Indeed, the Xilleon, which was much touted by ATI as the product with the most potential for mainstream appeal, is now destined to spend the rest of its time in a nursing home in Toronto, remembering the good old days.

As recently as CES this year AMD was touting design wins for the chip, with Divx signing up to use its codec on set-top boxes and Samsung using the Xilleon in its own TVs. Said Dave Di Orio, GM for the digital TV division, "We are committed to delivering a true multimedia experience with AMD Xilleon processors." And by committed, obviously, he means "about to slash".

It also marks a new direction for AMD, which now appears to be eschewing anything outside of its core competencies in order to focus engineering talent where it needs it. We've heard almost nothing about AMD products like AMD Live, or Geode - or, in fact, anything other than Fusion and desktop graphics for the past couple of quarters.

Whereas Intel and Nvidia appear to be spreading their wings with new types of chips and products for handhelds, subnotebooks, mobile phones and TVs, AMD appears to be narrowing its competencies in a bid to actually display some competency in any of them.

So bid a fond farewell to ATI's TV business - we hardly knew thee... µ


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