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ATI Interviews Part One – Andrew Dodd

Today we have a brief talk with Andrew Dodd, a product manager for ATI’s software group. In this brief interview we talk about the future of the Catalyst driver suite and recent events in the graphics card industry.

Today we’ll be bringing you part one of a three part segment featuring interviews with various employees at ATI. First on our list is Andrew Dodd, a product manager for ATI’s software group.

Can you start by telling us who are you and what you do for the company?

My name is Andrew Dodd, Software Product Manager. My main focus is to define many of the software requirements as well as the roadmap for ATI’s CATALYST software suite. I also interact with press and market ATI’s software to the outside world.

How long have you been working for ATI?

I have been with ATI for almost 4 years. I started at ATI as a Technical Marketing Engineer, which involved among many other things writing a number of technology whitepapers for the RADEON 8500 launch. In the fall of 2001I moved to software marketing, which led to my current position of software product manager.

Can you tell us more about the relationship between game developers and ATI?

ATI has a very large developer relations team that works very closely with game developers to ensure that ATI’s hardware works as best it can with their game. Working with game developers is one ATI’s top priorities.

What is your opinion on the use of 3dmark03, other synthetic benchmarks, and the driver optimizations debacle?

Obviously the point of a benchmark is to measure performance. The problem with benchmarks is that everyone obviously wants to get the absolute highest score possible, and sometimes this can lead to unfortunate situations. The whole point of a benchmark is to try and measure the real-world performance of a graphics card. So if you’re doing anything specific for a benchmark then you’re defeating the whole purpose of the benchmark.

Personally, I would be more concerned with how a graphics card performs on a large selection and variety of games.

Until Half-Life 2 comes out right?

I’m quite certain ATI will perform very well in Half-Life 2, as we do in all other games available today. ATI’s belief is that we must perform well in a broad spectrum of games, and not just focus on one or two “key” benchmarks/games.

It’s been about 2 years since you’ve started the Catalyst drivers and they have really evolved since then. Where would you see the Cats in 2 years?

I’d like to see the CATALYST driver as the #1 selling point for all ATI graphics card 😉 We’re going to stay focused and continue delivering the most stable, high performance driver in the industry. We’re also going to put significant effort into enhancing the usability and features available to the end-user in the coming months.

Are we going to see any kind of SLI feature in the future?

Unfortunately I can’t comment on that. It’s definitely an interesting technology if done properly.

Alienware is advertising that they will have a dual-graphics card solution with your product; did you guys work with them at all on this?

No, not that I know of – I’m actually a little surprised that they developed a solution that works for all graphics cards, without knowing the inner workings of our hardware/software.

There is a lot of talk over the lack of Pixel Shader 3.0 support in ATI products. What do you think of this argument?

We actually do support some 3.0 shader stuff – our hardware is capable of supporting Instancing for example, but more importantly we won’t be seeing games that even make heavy use of 2.0 shaders for another year or two, and by that point in time the graphics hardware architecture available will be a few generations ahead of what’s available today.

To conclude, can you tell us about the system you run at how and what games your currently playing?

At home I run a Pentium4 2.0 GHz with a 9800XT. The last game I really got into was Call of Duty. I’ve been pretty busy lately and haven’t had too much time to play games, but I’m definitely looking forward to playing Half-Life 2 later this year.

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