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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  • eddman - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    GCN 1 and 2 is understandable, but didn't think 3 would be dropped too, considering that it's a maxwell era architecture, which will be supported for a while still.
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    I think dropping GCN 3 seems premature as well though I fortunately do not have any. I wonder what they'll do for GCN 4 long term. Technically they were still selling them just a few months ago. So they've been out for years now but the people who just bought one should reasonably expect years of driver support.
  • Silver5urfer - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Probably M$ pushed these both corporations to abandon Win7, they might have revoked the contracts for Win7 driver WHQL program. Shameless pig M$.

    Even to date the OS works superb and stable on Intel platforms esp. And both AMD / Nvidia GPUs too unless DX12 is used.

    M$ could release a Service Pack 2 with WDDM including DX12 and all the GFX pipeline updates, nobody would touch that pile of Junk which craps on itself every day or week (patch Tuesday) on its perpetual beta state of OS which uses to test their updates as gunea pigs and on top the EOL policy being 6 months resulting in always resetting your changes to the OS.

    AMD processors can also run Win7 on X570 and B550 but only issue would be lack of some Win10 Scheduler update which improves the ramping up the CPU cores which was in May 2019 SAC update. Long Term Servicing Channel on AMD would be similar to Win7 since both do not have those updates. Still one can run the OS.

    With Win11 coming up, the abomination which has 10X touch friendly massive information density loss UI, Windows experience for desktop machines is even bad now. Win10 is until 2025 at-least thankfully, but the perpetual UI changes and lack of direction bleeding into the desktop RTM environment is really a damn chore that shouldn't exist in 2021 of all. 10 and 11 will never be a stable RTM OS anymore with this move. A massive fk up from M$ in copying Apple greedy walled garden and their touch friendly, kiddo friendly mimic.
  • schujj07 - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Win 7 should be gone and support for drivers from AMD/Nvidia, Intel, etc... should have stopped the moment Win 7 went EOL. Why do you want to run modern hardware on a 12 year old OS?
  • Silver5urfer - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Because it works and it doesn't have the problem of constant bloatware/spyware/nagware infestation through updates breaking everything and the UI is made for a Desktop system not a portable garbage.

    EOL officially but the updates are even delivered to date for Win7, it got Samsung NVMe driver too. DX12 can also be done but the libraries have to be shipped by the developer, COD MW 2019 and COD Black Ops Cold War, Cyberjunk all of them did this.

    And it looks way better and even better than Win11.
  • schujj07 - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Windows 7 was a good OS, in 2009. Compared to 10 is it less stable, less useful UI for troubleshooting, has more security holes, and not designed for 2018+ hardware.

    You do realize that EOL means that MS isn't sending security updates. Without those updates new security holes that are found are never fixed and are just an easy way for your system to be hacked.
  • kn00tcn - Thursday, June 24, 2021 - link

    "You do realize that EOL means that MS isn't sending security updates." stop perpetuating that lie, MS is sending security updates with another 1.5 years to go

    "Why do you want to run modern hardware on a 12 year old OS?" the driver supports gpus released in 2016! a cpu is irrelevant, a few enhanced power saving or turbo features is what a newer OS provides for modern hardware

    not every system is playing online multiplayer games, not every system is directly connected to the internet, but occasionally a new driver is useful for singleplayer games or content creation software
  • schujj07 - Friday, June 25, 2021 - link

    "stop perpetuating that lie, MS is sending security updates with another 1.5 years to go" That is a 1/2 false statement. Support ended for Win 7 on January 14, 2020. That said you could PURCHASE Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Win 7 Pro & Enterprise Editions. However, that was only available to business customers through the Volume Licensing Center and from Cloud Solution Providers. If you have not purchased ESU then you cannot get updates for Win 7. Even then ESU is a fringe set of users and specifically for business customers. ESU ends up just helping business migrate to Win 10 at a slower pace that's it.

    There is more than just power saving and turbo features in the modern OS. From a tech support stand point I much prefer Win 8/10 to Win 7. The GUI is easier to navigate, the information that you get is easier to decipher, etc... On top of that the schedulers are better in Win 8/10 than in 7 and in 7 you don't get support for newer CPUs. If you install a Ryzen 5600X in a Win 7 computer and it doesn't work, AMD will NOT give you support. They will tell you to install Win 10 and see if it works then.

    Newer software is abandoning Win 7 support as well. Adobe Premier Pro going back at least to Oct 2018 has Win 10 as an OS requirement. While it might be able to be installed on Win 7/8, if you run into problems on the OS you again will not get support from Adobe.

    I feel like a broken record saying this but there is not a good reason to support a 12 year old OS anymore for modern hardware. Look at the major Linux distrabutions, Ubuntu gives you 5 years of updates for LTS versions and Red Hat gives you 10 years support. Only SUSE gives more than 10 years with 13 years of support. I can tell you from personal experience that supporting SLES 11 is a PITA. General support ended in 2019 and LTSS ends March 31, 2022. I cannot wait until that happens because SLES 11 is garbage compared to 12 & 15. Note I am a VMware Administrator and Systems Administrator. I have to give support for OS' ranging from Server 2003 R2 > Server 2019, SLES 11 > SLES 15, Ubuntu 14.04LTS > Ubuntu 20.04LTS, etc...Working with these things on a daily basis I have grown to have a disdain for the older OS'. They just are not as nice as the newer ones.
  • brucethemoose - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Among other things, I think you give Windows 7 too much credit, and have an outdated impression of 10.

    Anyway, all sorts of old OSes work, but you can't expect to get modern features on them. This is not unique to MS, or even commercial OSes.
  • Lord of the Bored - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - link

    Seriously. Why hang your hat on Windows 7 when you could get a REAL OS like Windows 98 instead!

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