As AMD continues to make significant strides with their third generation of RDNA architecture GPUs, it is clear that the days of older Graphics Core Next (GCN) designs, namely Polaris and Vega, are slowly coming to an end. Recent developments in both their open source Vulkan Linux driver and Windows drivers indicate that AMD is gradually reducing support for these architectures. In this article, we explore the implications of this transition and the impact it will have on AMD users.
Dropping Support for Polaris and Vega in AMDVLK Linux Driver
One of the first signs of AMD’s shift away from Polaris and Vega GPUs was the company’s decision to drop support for these architectures in their open source Vulkan Linux driver, AMDVLK. This move implied that AMD’s focus was now primarily on their RDNA architectures, leaving Polaris and Vega users with limited driver support.
Winding Down Support for Polaris and Vega in Windows Drivers
Following the drop in support for Polaris and Vega in the AMDVLK Linux driver, AMD is now also winding down support for these architectures in their Windows drivers. Under AMD’s extended driver support schedule, the drivers for Polaris and Vega will no longer receive regular feature updates comparable to those for RDNA architectures. Instead, support for Polaris and Vega will be limited to security updates and “functionality updates as available.”
Transition to Separate Driver Packages for RDNA and GCN
AMD initiated the transition away from Polaris and Vega GPUs earlier this year in September with the release of their Adrenaline 23.9 driver series. With this release, AMD split the RDNA and GCN driver packages, creating separate driver branches for each architecture. Consequently, only RDNA cards receive new features and updates as part of AMD’s mainline driver branch, currently marked as 23.20. On the other hand, GCN cards have been moved to a maintenance driver branch labeled as 23.19.
Implications for AMD Users
The phased reduction in support for Polaris and Vega architectures will inevitably have an impact on AMD users. Those utilizing these older generation GPUs should expect a decrease in driver updates and feature enhancements as AMD prioritizes their RDNA-based products. While support for Polaris and Vega will be maintained for an extended period, it will mainly focus on addressing security vulnerabilities and providing limited functionality updates.
Strategic Shift Towards RDNA Architecture
This move by AMD signifies their strategic shift towards the RDNA architecture, which has been receiving widespread acclaim due to its enhanced performance and power efficiency. By concentrating their resources and driver updates on RDNA-based GPUs, AMD aims to further solidify their position in the GPU market and cater to the evolving demands of gamers and professionals.
AMD’s transition away from Polaris and Vega architectures in favor of their RDNA designs marks a significant shift in their GPU product lineup. While support for Polaris and Vega will be maintained, AMD’s focus on RDNA-based products means that users may experience a slowdown in driver updates and new features for these older GPUs. As AMD continues to push the boundaries of GPU performance with their RDNA architecture, it will be interesting to see how this transition impacts the overall market and the loyalty of AMD users.