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AMD drops Windows 8.1 32-bit Radeon driver support

by Mark Tyson on 23 February 2017, 12:31

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD)

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Amid the flurry of Ryzen news AMD updated its Crimson ReLive drivers again. Version 17.2.1 is a WHQL release which hasn't got any new features other than its certification. It was built with Multi GPU profiles and optimisations for Sniper Elite 4, and For Honor just like the immediately previous release. However, TechPowerUp has noticed that AMD isn't supplying a Windows 8.1 32-bit version of the driver any more. It decided to ask AMD if this was just an HTML authoring error or there was something else behind the missing download link...

Upon enquiry TPU got a reply which basically said there aren't new drivers for Windows 81 32-bit "because nobody cares about 32-bit Windows 8.1 anymore." Reasons cited by the AMD representative included the following:

  • Extremely low download numbers for the driver.
  • Cutting driver development team costs by discarding OSes and architectures that have a minimal audience.

In addition to the above TPU noted that players of modern AAA PC games will be unlikely to run an OS with such limited RAM support (approx 3.5GB max, available to system). Many modern games require 64-bit Windows and an increasing number recommend 8GB of system RAM or more.

The marginalisation of the 32-bit version of Windows 8.1 is attributed to the Windows 10 free upgrade program and it must be noted that there are still (accessibility) avenues that allow free upgrades to Windows 10 32- or 64-bit from Windows 7 or 8. However, if I remember correctly, a fresh ISO install will be required to change your PC from a 32-bit Windows 7 or 8(8.1) system to a 64-bit Windows 10 PC.

Last but not least, if you are one of the few users of Windows 8.1 32-bit and like to keep your Radeon Crimson drivers up to date there will be some occasional releases for your system depending upon driver team workloads. With the Vega launch in the pipeline AMD's developers are understandably busy at this time.



HEXUS Forums :: 16 Comments

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Fair enough tbh.
It doesn't make sense systems are still being built with 32 bit Windows. Majority of systems have at least 4GB RAM now and 64 bit Windows still runs and supports 32 bit applications so they have a valid point.
DeathByDuke - some users still require hardware which only has 32bit drivers due to legacy nature. 64bit versions of windows are much more strict about things relating to drivers (eg. no unsigned drivers) which can prevent devices working on 64bit versions of Windows. I can think of one very specific (and significant) driver used by many of our customers, and there are plenty of other examples (think legacy printers etc).

For most people, 64bit doesn't cause any issues, and in time my customers with 32bit-only drivers will have to migrate on. In that specific case (ie. my customers), there is no 64bit solution that would allow them to do what they do, so they either have to abandon their workflows, or give up and move on.

Also, note that 64bit Windows has a larger system footprint than 32bit. I am actually puzzled that manufacturers sell netbook-type devices with 32GB storage with 64bit Windows (20+GB footprint) and 2Gb fixed RAM. It'd surely be more sensible to use 32bit Windows (10+GB footprint) to give user a better experience (there's barely enough space to do a major Windows update on those 32GB devices).
Irien
… some users still require hardware which only has 32bit drivers due to legacy nature. …

The chances of those users being on Windows 8.1 or later in the first place is remote. Plus, if they have hardware that is no longer supported by the manufacturer to the extent that they aren't providing any 64bit Windows drivers at all, it's probably time to start considering replacing that hardware. At this point I'll cue Saracen's explanation of the various bits of his systems that absolutely can't be moved to alternate hardware and that he urgently needs to maintain so he still runs air-gapped Windows XP machines for them. Which actually makes my follow up point for me - that if you have mission critical hardware that requires a particular environment it's still possible to obtain the relevant software to maintain that environment. And if you're not technically capable of setting up and maintaining a separate legacy environment (or getting someone else to do it for you), then you need to seriously consider whether using business-critical legacy systems that you can't support is really a good idea… :rolleyes:

64bit versions of windows are much more strict about things relating to drivers (eg. no unsigned drivers) which can prevent devices working on 64bit versions of Windows. I can think of one very specific (and significant) driver used by many of our customers, and there are plenty of other examples (think legacy printers etc).

Irien
… I am actually puzzled that manufacturers sell netbook-type devices with 32GB storage with 64bit Windows (20+GB footprint) and 2Gb fixed RAM. …

Many don't. My Toshy click mini is 32-bit. The latest ASUS Transformer is 32-bit. However, worth remembering that a lot of work has gone into improving system compression algorithms though so a compressed 64bit install really isn't all that big, comparatively. I've just had a quick check of the size of Windows folder on various devices, and my heavily used primary home laptop is just over 20GB, my fairly fresh Win 10 Enterprise 64-bit VM is only 12GB, and my Toshy is 10GB compressed to 6.5GB. So it looks like the folder size almost certainly increases with use (and presumably number of downloaded updates) - kind of wish I'd checked the folder size on the Toshy when it was new… ;)

Besides, 64-bit Windows will run 32-bit programs - the reverse isn't true. Do you want to be the manufacturer who deals with complaints that their Windows laptop won't run Windows software? I wouldn't. It only takes one software company, a year down the line, to decide it's only going to issue an x64 version of its software…
Scaryjim - just to clarify, I don't have a problem with AMD dropping 8.1 32bit support - as you say, it's a pretty insignificant combination anyway. I was merely explaining why 32bit systems still exist and may be needed.

Good point about 64bit software, although I'd suggest that the 2GB of unexpandable ram on many of those devices would be a problem before 64bit apps, but I get your point. For what its worth, the netbook I had in mind when I wrote was a current Asus Transformer model, but it sounds like it varies with model. This thing had trouble updating to Anniversary Edition out of the box!