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Q & A with AMD's Arturo Wong Chujoy on Mac Graphics Cards
Posted 11/27/2007

A few weeks ago I sent some questions about the present retail drought and future of ATI graphics cards for Macs to Arturo Wong Chujoy, GPG Desktop Product Marketing, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. I was hoping for something more definitive as far as future Mac retail offerings, but he does confirm the 9800 and X800 are EOL and also that the X1900 G5 edition is soon to be.

  • I realize that the Mac retail graphics card market is small relative to PC/Windows (and the majority of AMD's Mac revenue likely comes from OEM contracts with Apple) but are there plans anytime soon for new Mac Edition retail ATI graphics cards that are on par (GPU wise) with the current PC offerings?

    From a discrete graphics perspective, AMD will continuously look into opportunities that stay on the forefront of graphics performance and innovation.

    (I realized any new products/models launched as part of new Mac hardware (such as a Mac Pro revision) would not be commented on, but was hoping there would be something more concrete as far as retail Mac product plans.-Mike.)

  • Will there ever be any later GPU based cards for AGP Macs?

    We would like to introduce new products to the AGP Mac retail space; however, there are new challenges in making current boards available. In the past two years, we have seen an industry transition from AGP to PCI-E, and Apple has changed from PowerPC to x86 based processors. As current development focuses on PCI-E/x86 platforms, it becomes much more time consuming to apply new hardware to older platforms. That limits our ability to bring current products to the AGP Mac market, but we continue to look at options.

    But ATI currently makes a PC Radeon® X1650 Pro 512MB AGP ($199) - is there a reason that model could not be offered in a Mac (rom) version? (awaiting an answer)

  • Although there was a recent (short lived) production run of AGP Mac Edition cards (the X800 and 9800 Pro) - they were pulled from ATI's online store again. Are they gone for good?

    The ATI Radeon™ 9800 PRO Special Edition 256MB (8Mx32 memory) has reached its end of life. In order to fulfill the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro demand, we replaced this SKU with a 128MB version in August/September, 2007. Unfortunately, we have recently depleted our inventory of the ATI Radeon 9800 and X800 GPUs, so these products are now EOL. In addition, the ATI Radeon™ X1900 for G5 memory is also going through an EOL, which will impact the overall availability of the product.

  • Is the PCI Mac Edition 9200 card the end of the road for Mac PCI graphics cards? (and why has its price not dropped over the years?) (I know volumes are very low compared to PCs, but the price has not lowered since it was intro'd IIRC)

    Yes it is. We do not have any plans to introduce a MAC PCI graphics card. As for the price, we have different development costs for both MAC and PC platforms, which explains the price differences.

  • The drought of available retail Mac graphics cards (for years) has led many to buy a flashed PC model (or flash one themselves) - this has almost created a cottage industry in fact. These sales are not seen by AMD brass as a Mac sale and therefore make the Mac market/retail sales seem even lower, but the core problem only makes this worse. (A lack of available retail Mac models, even for those willing to pay more for a retail boxed Mac product)

    At the heart of the retail board drought, there were back to back updates to all of our existing products. First, we transitioned to RoHS compliant boards as per industry standards (RoHS is the Reduction of Hazardous Substances). This was immediately followed by a change in memory parts used to produce the same products. The combined impact strained our ability to deploy these products quickly.

    The RoHS transition is now complete and we are working with our supply chain to improve sustainability of stock for future products.

    I do want to stress that any modifications to our products whether being built by AMD or through partners will breach the warranty terms and conditions.

  • Now that Leopard is out, are there any software/driver updates coming soon from AMD/ATI (separately, not rolled into Apple releases) - if so what are they?

    As in the past, we will update driver software between OS revisions as needed, either to introduce upgrades or to fix problems. The drivers currently available for our existing products are very mature now, so the need for updates between OS updates has been less frequent. With any major OS revision, there exists the possibility of finding new problems after release. We are watching out for future problems and will respond either with an update of our own or in conjunction with an Apple system update.

  • With OS X Leopard released, has that signaled the end of any previous OS version related updates for ATI graphics?

    Given a need, we will continue to have updates available for Tiger. With the Leopard release, any future releases from AMD that involves Tiger would be targeted to work only for the very latest Tiger revision.

  • OS X Leopard includes changes (multi-threaded OGL even for PPCs) and feature/bug fixes in OpenGL reportedly - can you comment on any improvements that ATI graphics users would see in 10.5? (and if so, which GPUs)

    Unfortunately, we don't have anything substantial to comment on at this time.

  • What does the future look like for ATI graphics cards on the Mac? (GPUs in development etc.) Will next generation ATI graphics be available at retail or just OEM/CTO Apple options?

    Again, from a discrete graphics perspective, we're always looking into opportunities we can offer to our customers and AMD will continue to offer Apple products to meet their needs.

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