iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ATI Technologies Press Conference... By The Fireplace,
August 23, 2003

By Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)


In January 2003 we wrote that ATI started changing its policy regarding Russia and other markets. Before that the company dealt with USA and Canada only. Now the situation is different, though the steps are not impressive yet.

The today's event clearly indicates that the Canadian firm intends to pave its wave onto the Russian market. Noteworthy is the fact that the Moscow event was devoted not to the speedy RADEON 9800 or All-in-Wonder but to a modest slow and cheap card based on the RADEON 9200SE. It's just because this card can help ATI extend its marketshare by a great margin on the Russian market because it's exactly the low-end sector where one can expect mass sales.

So, the show kicks off. It's officially called ATI Technologies's press conference devoted to the release of the RADEON 9200SE. ATI's partners are also expected to take the floor here.

10:30 a.m., the square next to the Dobryninskaya Metro Station

The bus that took us to the place was really amazing! It was a very comfortable bright pink Mercedes.

We were four there from iXBT.com - Pavel Sokolov, Alexander Kondakov (on the photo in the beginning of the article), Alexander Vorobiev (one of those who arranged the event) and me. We were the early birds there :-)

But then it turned out that some others came even before us and were waiting in McDonalds. The first one who noticed us and came up was Konstantin Martynenko, Sapphire Technologies:

Then we saw the guys from ATI (Jan Puchert (on the left), Alexander Zhavoronkov (on the right, wearing a white shirt), and from Radeon2.ru (Igor Illarionov AKA NEW in the center):

Then we met visitors from other mass media and companies. Here's  May Chen, Manager at Gigabyte:

We took seats in that comfortable bus

and started the way to the Podolsky region, the countryside manor called Ordyntsy. Although the road was very narrow and sometimes bad the driver proved to be a real master. The house was located on the mountainside, and the gates were pretty narrow for such a big bus, but we safely came in...

Ordyntsy Manor

This private place is perfectly guarded, we counted 10 cameras while approaching the house. There's a pond with footbridges - an excellent place for fishing :)

The flags however reminded that we were at ATI's forum:

Alexander Vorobiev who came there early in the morning met us

and took to the "scene of action". It looked like an half-open tavern :-), i.e. there's a roof but no walls :-). Firewood, an oven (May called it a big ash-tray :-)), and real Russian samovars:

When I saw the firewood I took the occasion and spoke with Alexander Zhavoronkov (ATI) on how well ATI's drivers were debugged (it's a pun - firewood is "špoâa" in Russian, which is a also short name for drivers "špaťâepa") as he carefully hided the new CATALYST from the beta tests:

But now we knew how ATI's drivers looked like :-) They were white... I wonder if NVIDIA's drivers are made of oak or pine? :)

The guys from Radeon2.ru looking for ways to cut down the volume of such drivers and optimize their settings decided to go with a plane and a fret-saw...

While waiting for the event to start the new-comers helped themselves with tea and coffee,


and had important talks :-) (by the way, the photo on the right shows all the guys from Radeon2.ru who came here)

Meanwhile ATI's team was preparing the presentation (on the left), and the hosts were decorating the banquet table (on the right):

That's Alexander Zhavoronkov and me

Three (!) Alexanders: Zhavoronkov, Vorobiev and Kondakov, and Jan Puchert between the latter two, who will be really happy because he must have made a wish while standing between two namesakes. :-)

Konstantin Martynenko was very nervous before the presentation and even lost his RADEON 9200SE in his own bag (as a specific kind of Kangaroo (Kenguru), he wears his pouch on his back :-)), but on the photo he looks pretty calm and confident:

Sooner or later the card was found and even demonstrated :)

Here are some scenes of that day:

In expectation of the conference:

A nursery for dogs (there's even a hotel for dogs and cats at this place, with Dog Shows taking place from time to time)

This peculiarity is reflected in the emblem of this place:

Samovars... they bring me back to my childhood with granny's tea-drinking ceremonies. Just look at the real boiling samovar...

Now, when all the preparations are made, the show's breaking out...

The presentation

Lyubov Polyanina announced the beginning:

Damn! A fireplace, wicker chairs... It's remarkable. However, nothing distracted us from the speeches and the screen. A large plasma panel was used as a screen.

The speakers felt uneasy before their presentations and kept on conversing:

Alexander Zhavoronkov offered to translate for Jan but right after the first passage he told us that he forgot what Jan had said but he was sure that everyone got the idea anyway :-). Well, it wasn't that difficult to got what Jan was speaking about. 

Jan Puchert's speech

Jan summed up what happened during 7 months after the previous conference held in Moscow in January. During that period the company made 7 announcements:

Undoubtedly, I can't pass by the awards ATI Technologies possesses:

"ATI Europe is back" was the leitmotiv (i.e. ATI back in Europe and in Russia as well):

The sales volumes of ATI GPUs based products have markedly grown in Europe and are not pressing out their competitors from NVIDIA's camp.

The company's policy in the sector of video cards and their components has changed as well. The share of video cards coming directly from ATI has dropped in favor of processors in order to attract more card makers:

By the way, here's a list of their partners:

As you can see from the shot below, ATI business develops in four directions:

And here's how ATI sees its development in Russia:

That was the last point in Jan's report, and the next speaker taking the floor was Alexander Zhavoronkov. 

Alexander Zhavoronkov's speech

Alexander took us into the depth of ATI's new low-end product RADEON 9200SE:

First of all, he presented the whole ATI line:

Certainly, the listeners were let into all technologies and features of this line :-)

Then he touched upon the RADEON 9200SE and its capabilities in comparison with its competitors. As compared to the RADEON 9200 (250/200 (400) MHz), this model has the same core but is clocked at 200 MHz and equipped with 64bit DDR memory working at 166 (333) MHz. 

Have a look at the photo below on the left with the "fake DirectX 9.0" of the FX5200. They are right. We know how slow the shaders 2.0 of the GeForce FX line are relative to its competitors, that is why it doesn't matter whether a $60 card has DX9 or not because no one needs extra 3-5 fps (for example, in 3DMark03). It's certainly reasonable to equip the entry-level card with more urgent functions. Those who need games with the latest shaders and hardcore graphics should go with more powerful and expensive solutions.

Pricing wasn't avoided either:

It was almost the first time when they revealed the cost of memory on the video cards and analyzed changes in the memory price:

In closing Alexander summed up the information on the RADEON 9200SE:

Then he turned to a new solution in the sector of mainboards: IGP9100:

Some board makers have already developed their solutions based on this chipset. Here they are:

In September such board must flow into the stores. 

The next reporter was fragile May Chen from Gigabyte. 

May Chen's speech

May started with the current line of video cards based on ATI's processors which was divided into price segments:

The report was mostly tied up with this line with the emphasis shifted to the entry segment because of the the RADEON 9200SE the cards on which are already pushed to distributors by Gigabyte.

The speech was ended up with the summary table.

It should be noted that May is just learning Russian, and although she gave her speech in English, some introductory and final words were said in Russian. 

May was followed by Konstantin Martynenko who represented Sapphire. 

Konstantin Martynenko's speech

Konstantin spoke about the company at large and, in particular, about its production facilities:

Then he touched upon the RADEON 9200SE incarnated into Sapphire's card and demonstrated the card itself.

Sapphire didn't miss the IGP 9100 and built up several mainboards on it:

That was an end to the business part of the meeting. 


The banquet started with the longest table where one could find place settings and beverages (wine, beer, juice).

Then came shashliks and other kinds of dishes

Some rest after the dinner was very pleasing :-). 

Show must go on!

When the guests were offered to play paintball, many agreed anticipating how they would smash the guys from other firms :-). Here are the guys in the overalls...

Even the guys from ATI came to play it. Jan Puchert is on the left. Alexander Zhavoronkov lookied like a real Samson:

Here are both teams, not divided yet.

The training is obligatory.

After that all the players and we as onlookers and photographers went to the nearest underbrush where a mini-camp was waiting for us. The players were given guns and masks which made them looking like one another :-). However, on the photo below Alexander Kondakov is on the left and Alexander Zhavoronkov is on the right.

The place of operations was surrounded with a net, and it was difficult and even dangerous to make shots there... But there're some photos:

Unfortunately, Jan Puchert had a flight to Germany that evening, and he left us after the first battle.

Between the combats the players exchanged their opinions and wipe out paint from the clothes and masks.

Sometimes players got injured...

The game finished by the evening. I must say that there was one brave girl - Diana (Igor Illarionov holds her on the photo below):

Friendship won!

Closing of the event

After the paintball all the participants went back to the house to have time to come to the senses and have a cup of tea or coffee and the leftovers :-) 

Alexander Zhavoronkov approached the wood marked ATI and made a heartfelt speech.

It's really impressive when a man is ready for a death for the sake of his favorite company! :-)

It was also him who read out the list of prize-winners who got awards as the brightest paintball players and active participants in the conference. The guy from SK Press got a big bruise (he then got angry and shot down all enemies :-) and got a GameCube as a consolation.

His colleague Diana got her throat injured and was awarded with a video card for her firm spirit:

Andrei Karpenko from Radeon2.ru got a RADEON 9200SE based video card,

and all the other prize-winners got mugs with ATI's logo.

At parting all the participants got souvenirs from the company. Live music played by a skiffle group kept up the good spirit.

The same pink Mercedes took us back to Moscow... 

When we got to the Dobryninskaya Metro Station and said goodbye to Alexander Zhavoronkov he promised that ATI Technologies would soon take solid ground in Russia, maybe they would open an office in the near future, and seminars and conferences would become regular.


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