As AMD is now good into their 3rd procreation of RDNA architecture GPUs, nan sun has been slow mounting connected AMD’s remaining Graphics Core Next (GCN) designs, amended known by nan architecture names of Polaris and Vega. In caller weeks the institution dropped support for those GPU architectures successful their unfastened root Vulkan Linux driver, AMDVLK, and now we person confirmation that nan institution is slow winding down support for these architectures successful their Windows drivers arsenic well.
Under AMD’s extended driver support schedule for Polaris and Vega, nan drivers for these architectures will nary longer beryllium kept astatine characteristic parity pinch nan RDNA architectures. And while AMD will proceed to support Polaris and Vega for immoderate clip to come, that support is being reduced to information updates and “functionality updates arsenic available.”
For AMD users keeping a adjacent oculus connected their driver releases, they’ll apt admit that AMD already began this process backmost successful September – though AMD hasn’t officially documented nan alteration until now. As of AMD’s September Adrenaline 23.9 driver series, AMD divided up nan RDNA and GCN driver packages, and pinch that they person besides divided nan driver branches betwixt nan 2 architectures. As a result, only RDNA cards are receiving caller features and updates arsenic portion of AMD’s mainline driver branch (currently 23.20), while nan GCN cards person been parked connected a attraction driver branch – 23.19.
At present, AMD has not published thing astir this alteration successful driver support to their website. But, responding to a petition for a remark connected Windows driver support from AnandTech, nan institution provided nan pursuing statement:
The AMD Polaris and Vega graphics architectures are mature, unchangeable and performant and don’t use arsenic overmuch from regular package tuning. Going forward, AMD is providing captious updates for Polaris- and Vega-based products via a abstracted driver package, including important information and functionality updates arsenic available. The committed support is greater than for products AMD categorizes arsenic legacy, and gamers tin still bask their favourite games connected Polaris and Vega-based products.
Notably, AMD is actively asserting that this is not “legacy” position for Vega and Polaris, which is an important favoritism because of what “legacy” intends wrong AMD’s ecosystem. For AMD, bequest products are efficaciously considered end-of-life, and ongoing driver support is retired. Which successful nan lawsuit of previous procreation GPU architectures going legacy, AMD did not person immoderate further driver releases of immoderate benignant planned – though successful believe AMD did merchandise a mates of drivers to hole captious information issues.
AMD’s support plans for Vega and Polaris, by contrast, still telephone for regular driver releases, albeit without awesome characteristic updates aliases capacity optimizations. That intends receiving bug fixes and different occasional updates arsenic AMD sees fresh to backport them to nan older driver branch, but not nan afloat scope of updates that AMD’s RDNA products are now receiving via their up-to-date mainline driver. In practice, this is overmuch person to really NVIDIA has handled their bequest GPU products, which person traditionally received information fixes for a minimum magnitude of clip – making for a much invited offramp for going from afloat supported to unsupported.
But sloppy of what AMD is calling their driver support argumentation for Polaris and Vega, nan extremity consequence is that awesome driver improvement for these GPU architectures has efficaciously travel to an end, and these parts person now entered an extended support phase. AMD considers nan drivers for nan hardware mature, and pinch games progressively taking advantage of features not supported by nan hardware (e.g. Alan Wake II and mesh shaders), there’s intelligibly little of a request to adhd support/optimizations for caller games to drivers for aged hardware.
More broadly speaking, pinch nan existent high-end crippled consoles utilizing a RDNA2-ish (DX characteristic level 12_2) architecture, we’re yet approaching a alternatively difficult move that will beryllium leaving pre-12_2 GPUs behind. Consequently, I’m not amazed to spot AMD semi-retire some Polaris and Vega astatine nan aforesaid clip – location is simply a clear gulf successful archtiecture betwixt GCN and nan greatly reworked RDNA that underpins AMD’s much caller cards.
|AMD Recent GPU Driver Releases|
|Adrenaline||RDNA||GCN 4 & 5|
As AMD enacted this driver divided backmost successful September, we tin already spot immoderate of nan ramifications of this pinch AMD’s latest drivers. Polaris and Vega did not person an October driver merchandise (Adrenaline 23.10), and nan November merchandise (Adrenaline 23.11.1) contains only a fistful of fixes for GCN cards, arsenic opposed to nan much much extended database of fixes and caller crippled support for RDNA cards.
Ultimately, while nan remaining GCN GPUs haven’t been put retired to pasture rather yet, this is intelligibly nan opening of nan extremity for a statement of GPU architectures that stretches backmost to AMD’s 2011 GPU architecture modernization. AMD has been trading Polaris (GCN 4) cards since mid-2016 – starting complete 7 years agone – and successful believe nan halfway compute and graphics architecture of GCN 4 is virtually identical to nan even older GCN 3 architecture. Consequently, AMD has fundamentally been supporting that halfway GPU architecture for almost 9 years astatine this point.
|GCN 4 & 5 Products|
|Radeon VII||Radeon 600 Mobile Series|
|Radeon RX Vega Series||Radeon 500 Mobile Series|
|Radeon Pro Duo||Radeon 400 Mobile Series|
|Radeon 600 Series||Ryzen Mobile 7030U Series|
|Radeon RX 500 Series||Ryzen Mobile 5000 Series|
|Radeon RX 400 Series||Ryzen Mobile 4000 Series|
|Ryzen 5000G Series APUs||Ryzen Mobile 3000 Series|
|Ryzen 4000G Series APUs||Ryzen Mobile 2000 Series|
|Ryzen 3000G Series APUs|
|Ryzen 2000G Series APUs|
Meanwhile, things are a small much short-lived for nan newer Vega GPU architecture (GCN 5). While AMD introduced nan first discrete Vega GPUs and video cards successful mid-2017 – and replaced nan full batch of them in mid-2019 – that GPU architecture remained successful usage successful current-generation products for overmuch longer arsenic an integrated graphics solution. AMD’s existent desktop APUs, nan Ryzen 5000G series, merge a Vega GPU. And nan aforesaid silicon is still sold successful nan mobile abstraction arsenic nan budget-minded Ryzen Mobile 7030 series. So though nan Vega architecture is only a twelvemonth younger than Polaris, it has stuck astir for overmuch longer overall.
Unfortunately, that does besides mean that these Vega-based APUs are besides getting thing of nan short extremity of nan instrumentality erstwhile it comes to driver support, receiving only a fewer years of mainstream driver support earlier being deprioritized. Though arsenic these are besides nan weakest Vega GPUs, they’re admittedly besides nan slightest apt to beryllium utilized pinch caller games. More captious present will beryllium really agelong AMD supplies information fixes for nan Vega GPU architecture, particularly since GPU drivers are celebrated targets for privilege escalation attacks.
In immoderate case, while this isn’t a eulogy for nan last members of nan Graphics Core Next GPU architecture – astatine least, not rather yet – it’s clear that, 12 years later, GCN’s clip is yet approaching its end.