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Looking to focus its market development funds on the best partners, Advanced Micro Devices has cut ATI’s channel partner ranks in half since it acquired the graphics chip maker less than a year ago.

“Our marketing dollars were spread too thin,” said Matt Skynner, vice president of marketing for the graphics product group of the Sunnyvale, Calif., chip maker. “So we said, ‘Let’s focus on the top 200.’ Other than that, ATI’s channel program has remained essentially the same.”

Skynner talked about the ease with which the two companies’ channel programs were combined—”The concepts of the two programs weren’t too far off”—as AMD unveiled the most recent set of graphics chips for its partners this week.

The Radeon HD 2000 family of 10 new products—half for notebooks and half for desktops—offers options for both the consumer and commercial spaces and is designed to take advantage of Microsoft Windows Vista and DirectX 10. In addition, Skynner said, the decode function sits on the graphics chip, taking that function off of the central processing unit, where it tends to eat more battery power.

This new unified video decoder adds greater power efficiency to systems that offer high-definition video, Skynner said.

For VARs catering to the commercial space, the new line of graphics cards offers two plays, according to Skynner. First, there is a workstation line of products yet to be announced that will be based on these graphic chips. These workstations are targeted to the high end for development and design work.

Second, the launch of Windows Vista marks the first time that an operating system requires three-dimensional power, Skynner said.

“To get the full Windows Vista experience, you need a powerful graphics card,” he said. However, Skynner acknowledged that Vista sales into commercial accounts are lagging sales to consumers—typical in terms of adoption of a new operating system in these markets.

Bill Gates says Microsoft has sold close to 40 million copies of Vista. Click here to read more.

“It’s often hard to say when Vista sales are coming,” he said. “A lot of people wait for the first service pack to be released. Business and commercial enterprises are much more focused on that than end users are.”

The Radeon HD 2000 series of products includes entry-level offerings for as little as $99 for the low-end desktop product to the high-end card for mobile systems that costs $1,199 and more. Products will be delivered between now and July.