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AMD to Retire ATI Graphics Brand

Chipmaker AMD has decided to retire the ATI brand name for its graphics products, effectively ending the separate identity AMD has maintained for its graphics operations since acquiring ATI way back in 2006. Although AMD has no made any official announcements, the company plans to make the transition official when it launches its “Fusion” platform later this year, which will mark the first products since AMD’s acquisition to ATI that combine AMD’s CPU technology with ATI’s graphics processing in a single solution.

AMD has begun briefing partners about dropping the ATI brand. The company claims to have surveyed several thousand “discrete graphics aware” computer users around the world, and found that the AMD brand resonated better than the ATI name against competing companies like Nvidia, and that those surveyed responded positively when made aware of the ATI/AMD merger. AMD is interpreting the results as “permission” to drop the ATI brand in favor of Nvidia.

AMD does plan to keep the names of the Radeon and FirePro graphics lines, noting they have high recognition with graphics aware customers.

AMD’s acquisition of ATI as been fraught with controversy: the company has been forced to repeatedly write down the value of the acquisition—which is corporate-speak for having over-paid—and last year sold its mobile graphics business to Qualcomm for a mere $65 million. However, AMD’s graphics business has been performing well in recent months, having surpassed Nvidia for total unit shipments last quarter and rolling out several well-regarded affordable graphics solutions targeting gamers and media enthusiasts.

AMD’s Fusion line is slated to include “Ontario,” which will roll together two low-power AMD Bobcat CPUs with Radeon graphics on a single chip solution before the end of the year. AMD’s “Llano” chipset, scheduled for the first half of 2011, will blend a Phenom II-class processor with a high-end graphics unit.