AMD Ceases Graphics Driver Development for 32-bit Operating Systemsby Nate Oh on October 26, 2018 11:00 PM EST
With the recent October releases of Adrenalin Edition, AMD has finally discontinued support for 32-bit operating systems. The latest 32-bit packages can still be manually downloaded through older driver release notes, of which Adrenalin Edition 18.9.3 is the last release with 32-bit drivers.
The change doesn't come as a surprise. Earlier this year, NVIDIA ceased driver development for 32-bit OSes, and early last year AMD dropped graphics driver support for 32-bit Windows 8.1. Pre-GCN hardware was moved to legacy status back in 2015. Ultimately, the idea is to concentrate development and engineering resources, particularly if those resources are limited. Over the past few years, AMD has put in a renewed effort in graphics driver development, retiring Catalyst for "Radeon Software" and embarking on major annual updates, both for gaming and professional products. In that sense, prolonging 32-bit support diffuses focus for very specific edge cases for little benefit, and that goes for both NVIDIA and AMD.
An obligatory glance at the Steam Hardware Survey indicates around 2% of users on 32-bit Windows, though the numbers are not generalizable to the broader PC userbase. In any case, the vast majority of consumers regularly updating their graphics drivers are highly unlikely to be on a 32-bit OS. Older 32-bit systems with AMD graphics are more likely to be in embedded applications, such as casino gaming and digital signage, but those support cycles work somewhat differently.
As usual, the updated drivers for AMD’s desktop, mobile, and integrated GPUs are available through the Radeon Settings tab or online at the AMD driver download page. More information on AMD graphics driver updates can be found in the Radeon Software release notes pages.
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TheGiantRat - Saturday, October 27, 2018 - link32-bit OSes, apps and drivers make no sense from 10 years ago.
StevenD - Saturday, October 27, 2018 - link32 is a bit useful in some situations. But any system powerful enough to make good use of a dedicated graphics card requires 64 bit.
Dolda2000 - Saturday, October 27, 2018 - linkIt's true that I can't imagine anyone running a 32-bit operating for tasks requiring a dedicated GPU. But the real question is perhaps what this means for 32-bit programs on a 64-bit system. If I understand Windows' graphics architecture correctly, programs using the GPU need to load a client-side DLL from the driver (the ICD), which needs to match the program in question. Do these new drivers still include a 32-bit ICD, or are old games and programs impossible to run going forward?
Zingam - Sunday, October 28, 2018 - linkIn what situations?
In controllers - yes, on the desktop and even on mobile phones, I don't think so.
lilmoe - Saturday, October 27, 2018 - link64 bit OSs are better. 32 bit apps are more efficient.
tipoo - Saturday, October 27, 2018 - linkThey don't exist in a vacuum though. As soon as a single 32 bit application is opened, you need to load in and keep in memory all the 32 bit libraries associated.
So even if each 32 bit app is more efficient, going fully 64 bit is a net win since you can just keep that single set of libraries in memory.
PeachNCream - Monday, October 29, 2018 - linkIn the case of Linux, a lot of distros don't even include 32-bit binaries as part of the default install. The Debian branch including Ubuntu is a case in point. If you want to run 32-bit applications, you've got to also download and store the supporting binaries which bloats the OS a tad. It's better to recompile for 64-bit if possible.
nevcairiel - Saturday, October 27, 2018 - linkWhat does "efficient" even mean? There is numerous examples where 64-bit is unquestionably faster. The only marginally negative effect anyone could even come up with is that 64-bit uses a tad bit more memory, but that difference is practically negligible.
stephenbrooks - Saturday, October 27, 2018 - linkAll pointers are a factor of two bigger (8 bytes vs. 4) so it makes quite a difference to RAM usage, which affects RAM bandwidth required, system costs more as it needs more RAM, etc. Having said that, there doesn't seem any point in turning the clock back and running 32-bit code at the present point in time.
Zingam - Sunday, October 28, 2018 - linkWell that might make sense if you are making 1 trillion IoT devices that have to cost 35 cents each but on the desktop and even on mobile phones how much more will be the cost increased? Five dolla?