Alongside today’s release of their new Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.6.1 driver – the first to bring support for FidelityFX Super Resolution tech – AMD is also using this opportunity to clean house on supported graphics products. As announced in a new blog post and effective immediately, AMD is moving all of its 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) based GPUs and APUs to legacy status. As a result, pre-RX 400 series video cards and pre-Ryzen APUs are no longer supported by AMD’s current drivers, and AMD’s previous 21.5.2 driver set will be the final release for those products. 21.5.2 will also be the final driver that supports Windows 7, as AMD is also using this opportunity to drop support for that already-retired OS.

This week’s change in support marks the first time since 2015 that AMD has moved any video hardware to legacy support. At the time, the company retired its pre-GCN hardware, leaving AMD’s GCN-based Radeon HD 7000 series and newer products as their support baseline. And, after nearly 10 years of support for the oldest pieces of GCN hardware – the then-revolutionary Radeon HD 7970 was launched at the very start of 2012 – AMD is finally winding down support for the first couple of waves of GCN hardware.

First introduced in 2011, GCN was a major overhaul of AMD’s graphics architecture, moving from an ILP-centric design to a more modern and compute-friendly TLP-centric design. GCN itself has since been supplanted by the RDNA family, but many of the basic design principles of GCN are still alive today in AMD’s enterprise compute-focused CDNA architecture.

As for this week’s product support changes, AMD is essentially retiring all graphics hardware – GPU and APU – that pre-dates 2016’s Polaris (GCN 4) architecture. Consequently, AMD’s lengthy legacy list includes the Radeon 7000 and 8000 series, as well as the 200, 300, and Fury series. Even a few pieces of mobile-focused M400 hardware are on there, since those low-end parts were based on older GCN chips. Overall, this marks a roughly 5-year span of hardware being retired this week, with the youngest parts just turning 5.

On the APU front, the legacy list includes several of AMD’s popular pre-Ryzen APUs, including Bristol Ridge, Carrizo, and Kaveri, which were predominantly sold under the AMD A-series moniker (e.g. A10-9700). It’s worth noting that the resulting support window for these products does end up being a bit shorter than the discrete GPUs, since AMD didn’t release their first Ryzen + Vega APUs until 2018.

The Dearly Departed
Desktop Mobile
AMD A-Series APUs with Radeon R4, R5, R6, or R7 Graphics AMD A-Series PRO processors with Radeon Graphics
AMD Pro A-Series APUs with Radeon R5 or R7 Graphics AMD FX-Series APUs with Radeon R7 Graphics
AMD Athlon Series APUs with Radeon R3 Graphics AMD E-Series APUs with Radeon R2 Graphics
AMD Sempron Series APUs with Radeon R3 Graphics AMD Radeon R7 M400 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon R9 Fury Series, R9 Nano Series Graphics AMD Radeon R9 M300 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon R9 300 Series Graphics AMD Radeon R7 M300 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon R9 200 Series Graphics AMD Radeon R5 M300 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon R7 300 Series Graphics AMD Radeon R9 M200 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon R7 200 Series Graphics AMD Radeon R7 M200 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon R5 300 Series Graphics AMD Radeon R5 M200 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon R5 200 Series Graphics AMD Radeon HD 8500M - HD 8900M Series Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 8500 - HD 8900 Series Graphics AMD Radeon HD 7700M - HD 7900M Series Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 7700 - HD 7900 Series Graphics  

As things stand, I’m not surprised to see AMD lump together GCN 1/2/3 from a driver support standpoint. Despite some very material architecture tweaks among those successive generations, from a product development standpoint they all represent one extended product family, as AMD introduced and replaced GPUs in a piecemeal fashion. Combined with the fact that AMD continued using early GCN parts in newer cards for years, it wasn’t until Polaris in 2016 that AMD finally executed a complete top-to-bottom refresh of its entire GPU product stack. In other words, GCN 1/2/3 are being retired in the same way they lived: together.

Otherwise, as previously mentioned, AMD is also using this opportunity to retire support for their last pre-Windows 10 OS. Like most other hardware vendors, AMD had opted to continue developing drivers for Windows 7 even after the OS itself was retired at the start of 2020, owing to the fact that it was still seeing significant use in some locales. But, after another 18 months of extended support, Windows 7 support is also being dropped. As of today’s 21.6.1 drivers, the only versions of Windows supported are 64-bit editions of Windows 10.

For their part, AMD’s blog post on the retirement notes that “This change enables AMD to dedicate valuable engineering resources to developing new features and enhancements for graphics products based on our latest graphics architectures.” It’s also worth noting that this announcement comes less than 2 weeks after NVIDIA’s own legacy announcement, where the company announced that the similarly aged Kepler architecture will be moved to legacy status later this summer.

Closing out support for all these legacy products then will be AMD’s 21.5.2 driver. The company has posted a fresh “legacy” version of the driver just for these retired products, though it doesn’t look like there’s anything new versus AMD’s existing drivers. According to the company, there are no further driver released planned, and the announcement makes no mention of a security update support period.

Overall, AMD’s early GCN architecture parts marked an important transition for AMD, and the resulting hardware, for all of its merits and weaknesses, kept AMD in the game during a very tough period for the company. So for GCN 1, 2, and 3, this is a retirement that’s well-earned.

Source: AMD

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  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    I would have liked to have seen all GCN graphics cards retired... Because although I run a RX 580 GPU.. And Crypto is still gobbling Polaris up... And a Ryzen+Vega Notebook... I would like to jump over to RDNA when they are available at sensible prices with a driver suite that is fully focused on that architecture and it's feature sets.
  • Dribble - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    That makes no sense - you don't want the hardware you currently use to be supported, just so the hardware you might be able to get one day when it's both in stock and not too expensive has slightly better driver support. Surely right now with RDNA being unavailable now is the worst time to stop support of the hardware people actually own.
  • dotjaz - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    You are insane. Why on earth would AMD stop supporting products they JUST LAUNCHED?
  • 3ogdy - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Not that much of a fair game. HD7970 getting 10 years of support, while other, newer GPUs only get 5.
  • Samuel Vimes - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    They’ll still work.
  • RaV[666] - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Well, they wont with win 11, and you wont get game fixes.Its specially bad in this market.
    This move is to force more people to change gpus , because many people dont, and not because they dont want to, but because of very luckluster performance gains per dollar.
    I mean right now somebody with 390x would have to "upgrade" to a 5500XT at the same price with almost the same performance with teh same vram capacity.
  • kepstin - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    There doesn't appear to be any driver model changes in Windows 11 so far. I expect the existing Windows 10 drivers should continue to work fine. Indeed, most of the people testing Windows 11 leaked builds on current hardware are doing it with Windows 10 drivers.
  • flashmozzg - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Win 11 is just Win 10 update rebrand/
  • haukionkannel - Saturday, June 26, 2021 - link

    Gpu drivers will work just fine. The main point of win11 is support to Big.little cpu configuration!
  • yetanotherhuman - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    They're not old enough, in my opinion, all high end GCN cards are still viable, 7970 included. Bad move.

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