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AMD reduces driver support for Vega and Polaris graphics cards

Render of an AMD Radeon PCB showing the GPU and adjacent VRAM chips

If you own a computer with a Polaris or Vega-based graphics card from AMD and want to continue receiving drivers with new features and game optimizations, it is time to think about upgrading your rig. An AMD spokesperson has confirmed to AnandTech that the company is winding down support for its 4th and 5th Gen GCN graphics (Graphics Core Next), also known as AMD Polaris and Vega respectively.

The change does not mean those graphics cards are no longer supported—AMD has yet to move GCN products to its "legacy" list of retired GPUs. However, customers should no longer expect feature parity with newer graphics cards powered by the RDNA architecture. AMD says Polaris and Vega cards are "mature" architectures now receiving drivers from AMD's maintenance driver branch.

The AMD Polaris and Vega graphics architectures are mature, stable and performant and don’t benefit as much from regular software tuning. Going forward, AMD is providing critical updates for Polaris- and Vega-based products via a separate driver package, including important security and functionality updates as available. The committed support is greater than for products AMD categorizes as legacy, and gamers can still enjoy their favorite games on Polaris and Vega-based products.

You can already see the new policy in action, with AMD's October 2023 drivers only available for RDNA-based graphics cards. And even though version 23.11.1 is available for those rocking good-old RX 580, Vega VII, and similar GPUs, its list of changes and improvements is significantly less impressive than what newer cards received. This applies to the following discrete and integrated GPUs:

Desktop Desktop APU Mobile
AMD Radeon RX 400 AMD Ryzen 2000G APU AMD Radeon 400
AMD Radeon RX 500 AMD Ryzen 3000G APU AMD Radeon 500
Radeon 600 AMD Ryzen 4000G APU AMD Radeon 600
Radeon Pro Duo AMD Ryzen 5000G APU AMD Ryzen Mobile 2000
Radeon RX Vega AMD Athlon (Zen-based) AMD Ryzen Mobile 3000
Radeon VII AMD Ryzen Mobile 4000
AMD Ryzen Mobile 5000
AMD Ryzen Mobile 7030U

Although the GCN lineup is not technically dead (yet), it is time to wave goodbye to this legendary, now almost 12-year-old graphics architecture.

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