Alongside today’s release of the new Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver set, AMD has published a new page on their driver site announcing that video cards based on the company’s pre-Graphics Core Next architectures have been moved to legacy status. This means that GPUs based on the company’s VLIW5 and VLIW4 architectures – the Evergreen and Northern Islands families – have been retired and will no longer be supported. All of AMD’s remaining supported GPUs are now based on various iterations of the Graphics Core Next architecture.

Overall this means that the entire Radeon HD 5000 and 6000 series have been retired. So have the Radeon HD 7000 to 7600 parts, and the Radeon HD 8000 to 8400 parts. AMD and their partners largely ceased selling pre-GCN video cards in 2012 as they were replaced with GCN-based 7000 series cards, so pre-GCN parts are now about 3 years removed from the market. However some lower-end OEM machines with the OEM-only 8000 series may only be 2 years old at this point.

In their announcement, AMD notes that their pre-GCN GPUs have “reached peak performance optimization” and that the retirement “enables us to dedicate valuable engineering resources to developing new features and enhancements for graphics products based on the GCN Architecture.” Furthermore AMD is not planning on any further driver releases for these cards – the announcement makes no mention of a security update support period – so today’s driver release is the final driver release for these cards.

To that end, AMD is offering two drivers for the now-legacy products. The last WHQL driver for these products is Catalyst 15.7.1, which was released in July for the launch of Windows 10 and brought with them official support for Windows 10 for all supported GPUs. Meanwhile AMD has also released what will be the first and only Crimson driver release for these products; a beta build of Crimson 15.11 is being provided “as is” for their pre-GCN products. So at the very least the last of AMD’s pre-GCN parts get to go out on a high-note with most of the feature improvements rolled out as part of today’s Crimson driver release.

Ultimately the retirement of AMD’s pre-GCN cards has been a long time coming; it was clear that their VLIW architectures were at a dead-end as soon as GCN was announced in 2011, the only question had been when this would happen. With pre-GCN GPUs unable to support DirectX 12 and coming up on several generations old, it would seem that AMD has picked the Crimson driver release as the natural point to retire these cards.

Update: As a couple of you have now asked, it should also be noted that this retirement includes all APUs using the legacy GPU architectures. So all pre-Kavari APUs: Llano, Trinity, and Richland, are now also legacy APUs

Source: AMD Legacy Driver Page

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  • shodanshok - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    Well, this was expected and the right thing to do for standalone Radeon card.

    However, this is quite bad for APUs: Richland is a 2013 product, so it ended having only two years of driver support. Not bad in absolute sense, but way shorter that typical lifetime.
  • yannigr2 - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    R5 230 is an HD 6450 rebrand, so yes they still sell those cards.
  • Einy0 - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    Everyone needs to take a step back and calm down. It's not the end of the world. I've been there in the past and thought to myself oh crap, I'm screwed they aren't making drivers for my Radeon XXXX card anymore. I think it was my Radeon 9700 Pro the first time around. I was really worried, I went and purchased a new card right away thinking the old card was not going to work with any new games etcetera. I ended up using that card in my wife's machine who at the time spent way more time playing games than I did. She had way less issues with the old drivers than I did with a new card cutting teeth on new drivers. It's been the same way every card I've owned since. Nvidia and ATI alike, by the time they pull the plug on new drivers the old drivers are so robust they just don't need anymore fixes. I think half the time the majority of the things that get broken in drivers are caused by performance fixes in the first place. So you might not get an extra 3 FPS in the new shooter that comes out, it's not the end of the world. I do however, feel bad for those people who spent $500+ on a video card thinking a PC is like a gaming console with a 5 to 10 year lifespan. They need to start looking at a PC as a 2-3 year investment and spend appropriately based on that . Me I try to plan on upgrading about 1/2 to 1/3 of the PC every year. That way nothing in my primary PC is ever really more than a few years old. Then, I pass the old parts on to other family members and occasionally friends or colleagues.
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    I agree, mostly.

    But when it comes to APUs you're talking about security patches, chipset drivers etc. which are *all* included into that one package today.

    It's no longer just about graphics performance but a lot more vital.
  • danbob999 - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    I disagree. Graphic drivers from AMD and Nvidia are the most unstable drivers you can find.
    They have a long list of bug they acknoledge with their latest stable release and admit they won't fix them. That suck.
  • djboxbaba - Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - link

    I've had my PC since ocotober 2009, only thing that I upgraded was an SSD. Everything else has been completely fine
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    Never saw that coming so soon for the APUs, even if it is logical and quite impossible to separate the GPU and CPU.

    I can understand completely if AMD doesn't want to invest into continuing to *tune* pre-GCN graphics code for those APUs and it's pretty certain that won't help them perform much better.

    But "lack of support" for an APU is somewhat bigger, as it puts invalidates the entire system, the FM2 motherboards, entire laptops which thus won't receive security updates nor the new generation Linux drivers.

    Most of the systems I operate for my kids combine "ancient" Core2 type CPUs (3.4GHz quads, not slouches by any means) with a modern GPU, because any € invested into a GPU will return gaming performance while it's wasted on a CPU.

    Likewise I didn't see any motive to retire Trinity and Richlands systems any time soon either, because their CPU performance is quite enough and the graphics part never really mattered beyond what they could offer in terms of performance.

    But this policy for APUs means they may soon be unsafe to use on Windows, may never properly work with new releases of Wayland or X based Linux using the new open source drivers or with Android x86, while for example a Richland notebook or mini-ITX could still remain useful for another 5 years or more.

    AMD must make a difference between continuing investments into the GPU code for performance tuning and maintaining OS compatibilty and security for the rest of the SoC and chipset.

    Otherwise Zen won't help (either?)
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    Just tried updating my Richland based home server running Windows 2008R2 (and lots of VMs):
    Installed (rather too) quickly, and reports a full success, while in fact it won't install at all, but leaves everything unchanged. The only change is that CCC will now constantly remind me to upgrade to 15.30.

    So they managed to completely break Windows Server compatibility with this release (on all earlier releases CCC just had a nasty memory leak on Windows 2008R2 and 2012), which really was most sensible use case still left for AMD APUs: The virtualization friendly home-server.

    This wanton self destruction of any remaining niche (like eliminating ECC support before) make me very, very sad: Intel needs someone to snap at their heels.
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    Updated Kaveri A10-7850K based home-server to Crimson on Windows 2008R2.

    This time around, 15.30 drivers got installed, but CCC remained the same (not the new Radeon Control). Also wanted a reboot. While the CCC remains installed, it won't open the GUI on the Kaveri while the context menu on the right lower icon bar works.

    Updated Phenom2 X6 1090T (Thuban) next (2008 or so) with a Radon 290X (GCN 1.2) running Windows 7-64bit. Installed the new graphics, chipset, audio etc. drivers on a far older CPU than my APUs *and* changed the control panel to new Radeon Settings panel.

    Three systems, three distinct behaviors: Not a very promising...
  • Mark_gb - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    Crimson is designed for GCN. It might work on systems that have older non-GCN GPU's, but that was not their main focus. GCN was introduced in 2011. That as 4 years ago. The writing should have been visible that day that this day was coming.

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