Thank you AMD!

by Fred von Graf on December 4, 2009

Until recently I had ATI on my black list, you know that list that you keep of companies or product that you refuse to buy.  Well ATI was on that list and has been on it for years now.  So a little history and I’ll get to the point I promise.  It started with getting my first PC from a place called Showtronics back in 1989.  They sold me an over clocked Intel 286 20MHz clocked to 25MHz.  That was back when there was a hardware clock selector on the computers called the ‘turbo’ button and VGA was the standard.  Well I bought a new video card called the ATI VGA Wonder and a NEC monitor which weighed so much it must have been made of lead.  All was right with the world, I stopped using my Atari ST to emulate a PC and I was hacking away in Assembly, PASCAL and whatever else I could get my curious hands on at the time.  The ATI worked great and as a result I continued to buy and support ATI as I upgraded and bought new computers.  My love affair with ATI changed drastically in the late 90s when I’d bought a newly released ATI video card.  Within six months there was a new OS released, so when I went to get the drivers for my practically new ATI video card and found out that they had stopped supporting it.  No new drivers were planned so I was stuck with practically new hardware and no way to use it.  That was the day ATI got put on my black list and had stayed on that list until late 2009.

Now between the time ATI got black listed and today a lot of things changed.  I’d consulted for corporations and governments,  had worked for Intel as a manager, I did business development for Avnet and I’d even worked as a VP in Technical Marketing for a while (if you’re really interested just look at my LinkedIn profile).  All along ATI remained on my no buy list and influenced my purchasing decisions both for myself and my clients / companies…

How did ATI got off of my black list you ask?  Well it started earlier this year, when I was doing a lot of video edits.  I own the Adobe Master Suite and use Premier Pro and the Adobe Media Encoder for my editing and transcoding needs.  The encoding times were taking hours to complete for simple edits, no real effects to mention and short movies (30-40 minutes).  With a lot of encoding going on I’d batch them at night and hope for the best.  Needless to say this got old pretty quick, so I was exploring options to speed up the transcoding process.  In my research I ran across this post where ATI had developed a plugin for Adobe Premiere CS4 to allow it to use the ATI GPU to offload encoding and speed up transcoding.  Doing further research I learned to do anything similar with my favorite GPU maker at the time (Nvidia) I would have to buy a high end video card ($800-$2000).

So let me get this right ATI allows you to use a standard desktop video card that can be acquired for a couple hundred dollars vs 4 to 10 times that with Nvidia…  Now I’d already spent quite a bit on two 7900GT Nvidia based video cards running in a SLI configuration, but there was no way to utilize the GPU on these cards.  I looked at why I had put ATI on my black list in the first place and did some further research only to find that since AMD purchased ATI the driver situation had completely changed!  They had universal drivers similar to Nvidia and actually supported older cards.

I figured ATI had served their time on my black list, and gave them a chance with the purchase of a new ATI HD4850x2.  It was not the fastest of best card out but it met my needs.  Now I can share that the AMD Beta Plugin for Adobe CS4 doesn’t work on Windows 7 (major disappointment) as it only works with Vista.  I did however learn that Cyberlink PowerDirector 8 support ATI GPU offloading natively.  Now that I’m using PowerDirector for my editing and transcoding I am able to encode videos at about 1:1 speed or better.  So for those 30 minute videos going from AVCHD (1920×1080) from my Panasonic TM300 to H264 encoded videos for web and iPodDroid viewing it takes from 15-30 minutes.  So I say thank you AMD, thank you for turning ATI around and helping the consumer along the way.  You are no longer on my black list, in fact I sing your praises when it comes up.  Please keep up your excellent work and please make the Plugin for Adobe CS4work with Windows 7 already – I miss working in my Adobe workflow!

Now there are companies like Qwest that remain on my black list and as long as there’s any other option they will never get my business.  But that’s because they were the only game in town for so many years (back when I was setting up ISPs & data centers in Phoenix) and they pooped on their customers every chance they got knowing there was no other option.  They could offer to pay me and give me free service for life and I’d have a really hard time ever endorsing them.  Claiming that you care about your customers doesn’t make it so, actually treating your customers like people does.  Want a lesson in corporate culture that works?  Want to learn how to actually change so people will not only tolerate you but actually prefer to work with you?  Well you can hire me and I’ll help your company.

So do you have a ‘black list’ as well, who’s on your list?  Do you have other lists you can talk about?  What do you think about ATI’s new approach since being bought by AMD?


Brian Carey December 10, 2009 at 13:09

I only have two companies on my blacklist. Sony and Intel. It has been my experience that Sony is overpriced and a mediocre product. Intel was just recently added when I realized that their standard CPUs don’t include the virtualization technology. I had just purchased my quad-core and upgraded to windows 7 and found I couldn’t utilize the Windows XP compatibility feature because there was not VT on the chip. Did some research and nearly all AMD processors have the technology built-in. I trash talk Intel any chance I get now.

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Fred von Graf December 11, 2009 at 02:07

Hey Brian – I’m disappointed with Sony’s use of proprietary memory on all of their products and not supporting industry standards, other than that I don’t much care either way about Sony. I used to work for Intel and will mainly leave that one alone. I think some of their practices are questionable, like their pricing on Atom processor & their crappy graphics chip combo is cheaper for manufacturers that just the processor alone. Try competing in the netbook market if you were Nvidia for example…

Thanks for the comment!

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Angry Consumer December 24, 2009 at 07:51

This has not changed my life because it is not supported on the 3800 or 2900 series. Spent over 1000 dollars on ati’s products and when something good comes out like ati stream, i am unable to use it. This is doubting me about buying another ati product because of future upgrades. Nvidia was able to allow cuda to be used on every directx 10 card they’ve got; why cant ati?

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