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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  • bigboxes - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    The card is 9 years old. You'll still be able to play your old games. Your card is 1/4 as fast as a new video card. Do you really expect a company to support your old equipment that long?
  • schujj07 - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    The 7970 playing games in 2016 was between 1/3 & 1/5 as fast as a 1080Ti. A 1080Ti has the performance between a 3060 & 3060Ti. The fastest cards are another 50% faster than the 1080Ti which means a 7970 is at best 1/5 as fast as the fastest cards now. Even the once mighty 390X is 2-3x slower than a 1080Ti so upwards of 4-5x slower than the fastest cards now as well. I get it people want to have their GPUs supported forever. I'm still running an RX 285 from 2015 but I know that it is on its last legs for new games. Borderland 3 runs at 30fps at the bare minimum settings for me. Going to a 5500XT would easily double my FPS at the same settings. But the fact of the matter is that doesn't make sense to keep supporting this old hardware.
  • RaV[666] - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Comparing these old cards just to teh fastest available and proclaiming them to be useless is kinda dumb.
    There are also MUCH MUCH slower new and supported cards which often are slower than the now unsupported ones.
    I mean come on, 290-390-Fury are just fine performance wise.Moreover they are so similar architecture wise, its really not that costly to support all gcn ones.This is just a move to get more money not that its huge cost development wise.
    AMD just seems to look at nv and copy all the wrong (for consumers) moves.Its duopoly in action.
    They didnt even release any sub 480$ rdna 2 models! and those cost ~1000$.
  • schujj07 - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    I'm not just comparing them to the fastest available. As of now a 1080Ti is a middle of the road card in terms of performance. Even a lowly 1660 Super is over twice as fast as a 7970 in more modern games. Based on "newer" cards, the 7970 is only about that of an RX 460 4GB. I'm not saying that you cannot reduce settings to get playable frame rates on older cards, I do that myself with an RX 285. But the fact remains the same that development & support for an architecture that was released in 2012 doesn't make any sense. Microsoft gives you 10 years of support for an OS. Ubuntu only gives you 5 years for LTS versions. Would you really still want MS to still support Windows XP?
  • RaV[666] - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Again you are nitpicking.
    Even if the argument about 7970 held true (it really doesnt, gt 1030 and rx 450 are still supported, and even 750Ti,7970 is pretty much 1050Ti performance) .But lets think it does.
    Fury X is faster than all the polaris cards.
    390X is basically the same performance as 480.
    290X is basically the same performance as 470.
    The performance argument just isnt there.
    The pretty arbitrary "age" argument maybe stands for gcn1, but gcn 2 not that much, and certainly not for gcn 3.And they are damn similar , including gcn4.
  • bigboxes - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    The 7970 was given as an example. That was their fastest card available at it's release. I compared it to the fastest available today. That's an apples to apples comparison. If you want to choose another model then by all means find it's relative available today and compare. It will run a lot slower. It's not about finding a card that matches the performance of your old card. Find the corresponding model in the range and then compare them.
  • Operandi - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Agreed. I feel like AMD is pulling the rug out from under quite a few cards here that are still decently useful. I have a 380X that I was planning on keeping around for bit, and playing D2R with. It should be able to handle the game fine and I'm guessing will be supported for the most part by Blizzard but games after that with similar graphical requriments that would otherwise run fine could be problems.

    Cards like the 380 have like a gen or two playing modern games a medium-low settings, that really shouldn't be "legacy".
  • kn00tcn - Thursday, June 24, 2021 - link

    "legacy" doesnt mean old or non-performant, it means there are architecture complexities and limitations, additional testing requirements, a loss of available developer allocation
  • dotjaz - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    >not that costly

    So you would foot the bill then?
  • RaV[666] - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    I already did by buying muliple amd products.
    And ist not like amd is bleeding money right now.
    They literally dont know what to do with it so they are buying back stocks.
    When in doubt i always bought amd, because they had better pro consumer track record.
    But that seems to changed lately.And customer loyalty is worth something too.And they wont get much of it from actions like this.
    Anyhow, i am always amazed at people cheering on anti consumer practices.
    "yay we got less functionality for more!"
    I just dont get it.

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