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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  • haukionkannel - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Sorry. X1800.
    SWTOR is guite new game. Shogun 2 allso. But I have to say that in Shogun 2 you have to give up guite a lot of eye candy ;-)
    But the main thing is that you can play relative new games with legasy drivers.
  • Wreckage - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    As if AMD does not get enough complaints about their drivers.
  • Golgatha - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    What do you expect? They couldn't even be bothered to provide WHQL drivers for their flagship 7970 at launch.
  • redchar - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    I'm not an owner of any of those series of cards, but last I heard there were still usability problems that have yet to be solved on the drivers that those cards use. For example - flickering/screen tearing fixed yet? It doesn't even seem to be fixed on my 5000 series. And mouse cursor corruption? I haven't seen it in a while, but perhaps it's because I rarely use that computer for anything but gaming anymore. If there are problems left, which I'd guess so, it's a very poor showing to stop development without fixing all your problems.

    As some people have mentioned above that their AMD cards do not experience problems - that is likely true. From what I have seen between nvidia and AMD, it's not that AMD cards are always buggy, but rather that they seem more likely to be. In my experience those who stick to single monitor and single card setups see the least issues, whereas more than a few issues exist for those who utilize dual monitor setups. As if AMD does less QC on niche setups than they should. And then there is crossfire. With slow updates to crossfire support, dual-gpu utilizing people will often be upset (Skyrim for example... called game of the year by some and yet AMD couldn't get their act together with crossfire support permenantly. One driver added it, another driver broke it, another driver fixed it... broke it.. etc, don't know what the latest working one is now, but 11.11c seems to be the most reliable recently).

    I just hope that whatever driver they decide to stop on for the long period between legacy updates is one of their most reliable, as their drivers seem to fluctuate in quality - something I've not seen in nvidia or really any other company gaming or not.
  • Targon - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    There are some issues with Crossfire support having bugs(SLI also has similar problems in various titles), so that might upset SOME, not getting those fixed. Most people are fairly clueless when it comes to reasons for system instability. If you don't know WHY your system becomes unstable, then it is easy to incorrectly point to the wrong place for the source of the problem.

    As others have already posted, if you need one or two power connectors from the power supply, it is VERY possible the power supply itself is not delivering clean power, and that will cause the GPU to glitch. That isn't a problem with the video card or GPU, it is the power source not being good enough.

    I have seen XFX 4890 cards(from personal experience) hit high temps(over 80 degrees C) and that can cause some issues. You can fault the cards for power draw and as a result heat issues, or cooling issues, or whatever, but NVIDIA has had its share of cards that run very hot as well, and if the cooling system doesn't do the job, those will also have similar stability problems.

    A good reason to switch to a newer generation than the 4000 series would be for lower power draw and as a result, fewer overheat related problems. It may make more sense to just wait until Windows 8 comes out, and then get whatever new generation products come out at that point, just to make sure you don't get cut off with "DirectX 11 cards will not be supported, but 11.1 will be." types of issues.
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    You're talking to people in denial, and they will never admit amd drivers suck.
    The amd forums are full of it, there is a 30 plus standing list of general bugs, and when forum polls are done about 60% have problems with their amd cards and about 43% have unsolved and never resolved problems they just live with.
    This is why you have these people who try to blame everything but amd - they happen to be one of the less than half that either claim they've had no problem (more likely after they've had to fix something or hack something in or change the way they do things to manage the problem) or they do email and play one online game, or already went through endless hours of troubleshooting a year ago and don't really remember it and out of pride claim they never have had even a single crash, ever...
    We know the facts are very, very different.
    Part of the problem is the immense fanboy denial - and when you point out the very few things you did, the response is didn't you listen to someone else - it's the power supply, etc - anything but the truth, the amd driver bundle is buggy, always has been, and always will be, period.
    You have about a 50% chance of not having disturbing problems and ongoing issues when you buy any amd card.
  • andrewaggb - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    Personally, I've had a radeon 8500,9100,9600xt,x800pro,hd2900xt,3850,5770,6870, a couple mobility 5650's, and a c50 netbook.

    For the most part very few issues. Halo PC bluescreened changing resolutions on the 8500/9100 series but that was eventually fixed and that's years ago. It didn't occur on their newer cards such as the 9600 series that was out at the time. Better than ut 2004 blue screens with the nvidia 5900xt I had that made the game unplayable.

    Other than that, when vista first came out, the ati 2900xt ran way worse in unreal tournament 3 in dx11 mode than dx9 mode. My brothers had an 8800 gts and 8800 gtx and they were way faster. But the game didn't crash and I played in dx9 mode where it was fine. My brothers had a bunch of blue screens in windows vista the first few months with their 8800 series nvidia cards until nvdia got their drivers sorted out.

    Rage had radeon driver issues, but it kinda had issues in general. Nvidia support was definitely better though.

    I had some starcraft 2 issues at one point on radeon cards due to some setting I had changed in the catalyst control center (I don't remember what it was anymore, but it caused the protoss power circle to not render properly)

    That's about it for me. To be honest I haven't really had frustrating driver problems in years. The ati halo, nvidia ut2004, and nvidia vista blue screens were the worst because blue screens are just unacceptable. I've been mostly pro ati since because when I complained to ati about the halo issue with detailed logs and all the different driver revisions etc (including those that worked and didn't work) they got info from me and fixed the issue in an upcoming driver. With nvidia they wouldn't respond and gave no indication they cared even when I submitted technical and detailed reports. That's frustrating.

    'Changing the resolution in Halo while playing in the middle of a Campaign no longer results in a reboot of the machine. This issue was known to occur under Windows XP with an ATI RADEON™ 9000 series installed'

    Also, I pointed out that Catalyst 3.1 or 3.2 had much better performance in a specific scenerio then their current drivers, and they fixed the regression (though they covered it up and didn't call it fixing a regression, see the performance improvements - ongoing committment to previous generation bs)

    And here's one of many threads relating to the nvidia bluescreen with UT2004, I gave up waiting a bought a new video card, but it was eventually fixed in the 71.xx releases
  • m0rsh - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Okay. My next card will be from Nvidia. Wddm 1.2 is a DRIVER MODEL, it doesn't need a dx11 card. You can find wddm 1.2 drivers for the 9800gt.

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