Late last week word began circulating that AMD would be dropping driver support for their DX10 generation GPUS – HD 2000, HD 3000, and HD 4000 – based on a Phoronix article discussing the future of driver support for those GPUs under Linux. As Phoronix correctly observed, AMD tends to drop support for a GPU under Linux and Windows simultaneously, so there was reason to believe that a similar retirement would indeed be coming for AMD’s DX10 GPUs under Windows.

Today AMD put out a statement clarifying the future of driver support for their DX10 GPUs, and as it turns out Phoronix was correct.

Starting with Catalyst 12.5 (May’s Catalyst release), AMD will be moving the HD 2000, HD 3000, and HD 4000 series from mainstream to legacy status. This means that those products will move from receiving monthly driver updates to quarterly driver updates, and at the same time AMD will shift away from working on further performance improvements and new features for those cards, and instead working solely on bug fixes and other critical updates. AMD believes they’ve gotten all they’re going to get from their DX10 GPUs from a performance standpoint, so now their focus is going to be on any driver bugs that may crop up with future games.

As you may recall, this is the same legacy driver development model that AMD moved their DX9 GPUs to back in 2009, when Catalyst 9.3 was the last mainstream driver to support those GPUs. If that transition is any kind of reliable guidance, that means we should expect another year of driver updates for AMD’s DX10 GPUs. Their last driver release for those GPUs was 10.2 back in February of 2010, roughly a year after they moved those GPUs to legacy status. With that said, given the slowing pace of graphics API development – we’re not even to Direct3D 11.1 yet – I wouldn’t be surprised (or at least will be hopeful) that AMD will continue legacy driver updates for more than a year. New DX9 games are still extremely common, never mind games that work on DX10.

At the same time this cements the status of AMD’s DX10 GPUs under Windows 8. As those GPUs could never fully support WDDM 1.2, it has been clear for some time now that those GPUs would not be at parity with AMD’s DX11 GPUs under Windows 8. Officially AMD will not support Windows 8 with their legacy drivers, however Windows 8 will include a version of AMD’s legacy driver for their DX10 GPUs and any newer releases of AMD’s legacy drivers should be installable on Windows 8 with little-to-no fiddling. So with official support or not, nothing has really changed in this regard.

AMD’s full statement is below.

AMD will be moving the AMD Radeon™ HD 2000, AMD Radeon HD 3000, and AMD Radeon HD 4000 Series of products to a new driver support model.  We will continue to support the mentioned products in our Catalyst releases, but we’re moving their updates to a quarterly basis, whereas our AMD Radeon HD 5000 and later products will continue to see monthly updates. The Quarterly Catalyst releases will focus on resolving application specific issues and critical updates. The reason for the shift in support policy is largely due to the fact that the AMD Radeon HD 2000, AMD Radeon HD 3000, and AMD Radeon HD 4000 Series have been optimized to their maximum potential from a performance and feature perspective. The 8.97 based driver, released in May 2012 will be the first driver for the AMD Radeon HD 2000, AMD Radeon HD 3000, and AMD Radeon HD 4000 Series under the new support model; it is an extremely stable and robust driver branch for these products and will be the baseline for our quarterly updates.

Our main development and testing efforts will now be focused on the AMD Radeon™ HD 5000 and later products. This is the best use of our resources, as the AMD Radeon HD 5000, AMD Radeon HD 6000, AMD Radeon HD 7000, and future products have the greatest potential for further performance and feature enhancements.

Also with regards to Windows 8 support for the AMD Radeon™ HD 2000, 3000, 4000 Series of products; the In-the-box AMD Graphics driver that ships with Windows 8 will include support for the AMD Radeon HD 2000, 3000, and 4000 Series, and it will support the WDDM 1.1 driver level features. The AMD Catalyst driver for Windows 8 will only include support for WDDM 1.2 support products (AMD Radeon HD 5000 and later).
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  • frostyfiredude - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    Sounds like you got a bad card, or saphire messed up the whole series. Let me tell you, nVidia won't be any better, my friends with 570 and 580s aren't without their issues.

    I've got a reference design XFX, it's got the AMD logo on the PCB and all, and the only issue I've seen in common is the heat at idle which is because 2D mode is nearly the same clock speed and voltage as 3D (I drop down 15Mhz, LOL).
  • bassbeast - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Mind some advice? Change out the PSU with one you know to be good, if you don't have a spare go to your local mom&pop shop and see if he can test your PSU for you. Because I have found a LOT of those weird crashing errors with GPUs that need external power to be caused by the PSUs not giving them good clean consistent power. Doesn't matter the brand either, because every manufacturer can have one slip past QA.

    So have that checked because that really isn't normal behavior for a card unless it is seriously overheating or getting bad power.
  • jabber - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Show me someone with hardware driver issues for graphics cards and I'll show you either someone that doesn't know how to build a PC or someone with a load of crappy junkware on it.

    There is always more to such tales of woe than 'crappy drivers' especially when 98% of folks (myself included)install them month after month with no issues.

    Is it the drivers or the user? Hmmmm.....
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    "it's completely normal to expect their drivers to crash on me on a somewhat regular basis. I'm not talking about preview/beta versions but of the complete WHQL versions that today can at least benefit from the win 7 driver crash recovery but are still crashing. If it were only my experience I would definitely write it off as my problem and that would be it but it's obviously not ..."

    It is? In recent years I have had a Radeon HD 1650, 4650, 4870, 6950 and have never had any bugs or crashing issues in any games... Nor have I heard of any widespread problems. I think your PC has issues.
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    I've had a 4870 since the 1GB versions hit the market and have never had any driver issues. What you're describing sounds like hardware thermal issues, not drivers. Check the seating of your heatsink, contact with ram and VRMs. It's true these things run hot as hell, which is why you need to have a well ventilated case. Mine idles in the high 30s with an Accelero S1 Rev2 and 120mm Scythe fan @ 800revs and the core hits the 70s at full load (RAM is ~100, VRMs ~80).
  • bassbeast - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Strange my two boys and myself are all running Win 7 HP with HD4850s and haven't had a single crash between us. You might try looking into a fabulous tool called "dependency walker" to see if you can track down the problem, as I had exactly one customer with a Radeon that had a crashing problem and it turned out to be a broken .NET update that had messed up his system. Once i uninstalled with Revo and cleaned out the original driver the new driver took perfectly and he's been hassle free ever since.

    Before you go blaming AMD for a Windows crash you really should run DW and make sure its the driver and not Windows with the problem friend, as i have found messed up Windows updates can break both Nvidia and AMD drivers quite nastily.
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Very poor show. 2000 & 3000 I can understand, but a huge number of people bought 4xxx series cards, they represented amazing value for money and still give the performance people need.
  • haukionkannel - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    I have AMD HD1800 and I can play new games guite easily. I play LOTRO, Star wars online, civilization 5 and so on without any problems. So don't be too alarmed!

    The alarming thing may be that old radeon 1800 is still fast enough to run games in 1600*1200 resolution... There is something very wrong with game grap power creep...
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    I'm trying to identify what new games you are talking about.
  • tipoo - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    And what card...HD2800? X1800? There was no HD 1800

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