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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  • ET - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    I don't think that's really the case. Depends on how many bugs you expect to encounter in new games when using the current drivers. I have no idea how many bugs AMD fixed for older cards, but I would guess not a lot. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    That's a little dramatic, don't you think? I have a three year old 6870 and it's definitely showing it's age. Once something actually interesting comes out with Pascal/Arctic Islands, I'll be delighted to finally replace it. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    Damn, I'm just realizing how old this card is. I got it in December of 2010, so why "three years old" is stuck in my head no one knows. Soooo... change the previous post to "five year old". Reply
  • eek2121 - Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - link

    If it weren't for the fact I bought an r9 290 for $249 I'd be in the same boat as you...but for the price/performance I couldn't resist... Reply
  • anandreader106 - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    @aelfwyne That's a pretty cynical point of view. The drivers for GPUs are incredibly complex. They only have a finite resource in software engineers. With every new model of GPU that has to be supported, they have to drop off old ones to keep workload manageable. It's really that simple. Reply
  • Byte - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    At least the GCNs generations are aging more gracefully, with the older Nvidia stuff showing huge gaps from when they were released. Kepler was neck to neck with GCN at release, now its avg 25% behind. Reply
  • shaftshanker - Thursday, December 03, 2015 - link

    Hmm quite a bummer as I still use my 6970 in my oversized HTPC quite a lot for gaming but honestly there isn't much driver changes necessary on the 5k/6k series. It's not like you'll get Direct X12 or GNC through a software update and its (afaik) stable. I haven't seen any performance improvements after the first half year it was released. Reply
  • asimov1979 - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    What about APUs? several people bought Richland/Trinity APUs in the 2012-2014 timeframe. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    The APUs are also retired as far as their integrated GPUs are concerned. Reply
  • 80-watt Hamster - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    It'll be interesting to see what replaces the 5450 in the bottom tier of the market. Reply

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