How AMDs Acquisition of ATI May Help Linux and Macs

Opinion: With the acquisition of ATI, it makes perfect business sense for AMD to target both the Mac and Linux markets.

AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) is acquiring ATI Technologies, one of the top two graphics processor makers, for around $5.4 billion. AMDs aim is to grow its market share in the mobility and commercial markets, according to AMD CEO Hector Ruiz. What does this mean for Linux users?

The combined company will still make discrete ATI graphics processors.

Clearly, AMD will be trying to get more traction in the Windows desktop space. However, I have several thoughts on what the acquisition may mean for the non-Windows desktop world.

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First, while Apples Intel-powered Macs run Intel chips at their heart, they also tend to use ATI chips for their graphical faces. Could AMD make a run at the Mac space? I think they will, and that they should.

In case you didnt know, Apple and the Mac are back to being a desktop force. Intel-powered Macs, as well as iPods, boosted Apples third-quarter net income to $472 million, and earnings per share of 54 cents on revenue of $4.37 billion. In case, you havent been tracking Apples business, that makes its revenue up 48 percent from a year ago—and it was Apples second-best quarterly results ever.

/zimages/7/28571.gifClick here to read more about Apples quarterly results.

Thats only part of the future, though. Historically, AMD, like Intel, has been very open-source and Linux friendly. ATI... well, ATI has not.

Recently, however, as the RedPhoronix blog, has chronicled, ATI has changed its Linux ways. While ATIs Linux drivers still arent speed-demons, theyre much better than they used to be, and ATI is now constantly improving them on a monthly driver release schedule.

With AMD at the helm, I can envision ATI finally open-sourcing the code to its proprietary drivers. That should quickly result in much better performance for Linux users, and better performance for the Windows and Mac platforms as well.

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