AMD has confirmed the retirement of its Radeon HD 5000 and HD 6000 graphics processor families, along with selected HD 8000 and HD 7000 parts, announcing that as of the launch of Radeon Software Crimson it will no longer develop new drivers for the devices.
The 'unified driver' approach taken by AMD and its rival Nvidia for their graphics processor products certainly makes life easier on end-users: rather than worrying about which model and version of a particular graphics processor you have, you can simply download the bundle as a whole. There's a limit, though: keeping support for GPUs going back to the formation of the company would make the already-sizeable downloads unmanageable, and as sales of devices cease it becomes fiscally difficult to justify developing new drivers for outdated hardware.
With those reasons in mind, AMD has confirmed that the launch of the Radeon Software Crimson driver bundle
only parts from its Graphics Core Next (GCN) family will be supported. Effectively, this means no further driver development for parts in the company's Radeon HD 5000 and Radeon HD 6000 families, with the company claiming that peak performance for these parts has now been reached and further development would produce no improvements. The retirement also extends into some of the newer product line: the Radeon HD 7600 and below and the Radeon HD 8400 and below join their previous-generation parts in the legacy pile.
While users of these now-vintage graphics processors won't be able to install the mainstream Crimson driver bundle, AMD isn't abandoning them altogether: the company's older drivers remain available, while an 'as-is' beta of the Crimson bundle with support for HD 8000, 7000, 6000, and 5000 parts is being made available on the official website
- but will remain beta, representing the final release for legacy parts.