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Late last week AMD release their first drivers for 2013, the Catalyst 13.1 drivers. The drivers as noted already are available for both desktops and laptops, but I did some testing on several laptops with the drivers and found a few problems that still needed addressing. AMD contacted me today to provide me with some additional information, which is sort of good news and also somewhat bad. The short summary is this: the 13.1 Mobility Catalyst drivers are intended only for Enduro systems with Ivy Bridge (3rd Generation Intel Core Processor) and Trinity (2nd Generation AMD APU); earlier laptops with Sandy Bridge (2nd Generation Core) or Llano (1st Generation APU) are not supported with this driver. The driver download pages have been updated to clarify this point.

What this means for owners of laptops with the earlier AMD Dynamic Switchable Graphics (e.g. the Sony VAIO C I tested, or HP’s Envy 15) is that short-term you should stick with either the previous driver, or perhaps look to modified drivers like those from leshcatlabs.net in order to get updated drivers for your laptop. Long-term, AMD still appears to be committed to properly supporting PowerXpress 4.0 and 5.0 hardware (aka Dynamic Switchable Graphics), but that will have to wait—again—for another driver release.

The above should help clarify our results with the drivers, as our Trinity and Ivy Bridge systems were all able to install the drivers without any apparent difficulty (though we would still have to go through other channels to get the drivers in the first place on several of the systems). I want to also make it clear that the 13.1 drivers should work fine on any APU-only Llano systems along with any laptops that have discrete-only graphics solutions; the only difficulty is if you have a laptop with switchable graphics. And of course, any older laptops with PowerXpress 3.0 or earlier hardware remain unsupported as far as I can tell, and I expect that to continue.

As I said, then, this is good and bad news. The good news is that the drivers apparently work as intended; the bad news is that AMD has yet to release an updated driver for Sandy Bridge and Llano laptops with switchable graphics. Time is running out, as in another year support for such laptops becomes mostly meaningless anyway—the Turks GPUs found in such systems are already getting rather long in the tooth. Hopefully AMD isn’t hoping that the users of those laptops will go quietly into the night, and the fact that leshcatlabs.net continues to provide modified drivers that generally install without difficulty is particularly damning. Maybe AMD just needs to go ahead and hire Aliaksei Dzenisevich? Then again, they likely prefer to keep him separate from the corporate bureaucracy where he can do things without being required to adhere to strict WHQL standards.

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  • texasrho83 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Updated driver and now I have a black screen on my PC. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    AMD Catalyst 13.1 - now with 100% LCD power reduction technology! Reply
  • jbx - Thursday, January 24, 2013 - link

    For me on a Sandy Bridge System (Dell Vostro 3450 with 6630M) it works when I first install the old Dell-supplied driver (to get the AMD signed Intel driver) and afterwards install over that the most recent 13.1. The Intel driver is not updated (as 13.1 only supports Ivy Bridge) but I get the most recent for the AMD card. Guess the only problem with this method is that I am stuck with a nearly 2 years old Intel driver...
    I don not really get why AMD is unable to deliver a driver for Sandy Bridge. The only problem is obviously the lack of the singned Intel driver. But mod-driver makers somehow have absolutely no problem in releasing a woking and totally uptodate driver.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    You've discovered AMD and their fanboys deliriously prevalent dream utopian business model.

    AMD releases their intellectual property hardware designs, and fanboys the world over come home to daddy licking the feet happily, while hundreds of others feverishly produce the software support needed... "open sourcing" the great release that is the absolutely superior amd hardware !

    Tah dahhh ! AMD spends zero dollars, and suck up the glorious driver freebies from the most fanatic programmer fanboys in the wild. Then they take that "open source" driver and have their hacks learn a few things "for free" by examining it.

    It's a win win win win. AMD wins not spending a dime, fanboys win in their glorious pursuit of proving AMD is the best and writing up the driver goods to attempt to do so, and then AMD wins again glomming onto the open source in the wild work and trying to figure out what to do if they wanted to make one a driver of their own that actually works. Then AMD basks in the glory of the unpaid fanboy driver writers that give their lives and economic health away for free to the CCC (stands for communist communist communist) Gamers MANIFESTO company.

    LOL - it's a win all around, what a glorious way of life.
    Reply
  • Scottro - Sunday, January 27, 2013 - link

    So uh.. Cerise, if you're not an "AMD fanboy" then obviously you're an "Intel fanboy" - what's your point? If you don't want to use Windows, and you don't want to use AMD - then don't use them.

    Guess what, open source drivers, or any software for that matter tends to allow people to discover exploits a lot faster than closed source does. Are you mad because you can't figure out how to exploit the drivers, or are you mad because you can't use Linux on your computer?

    Cuz like.. if you're not an AMD fanboy, then why are you using an AMD processor in your computer and wasting your time posting on the Anandtech forums?

    Or aren't you.

    Because in that case, I guess you're simply a troll.

    I mean it's just business right? I'm sure Intel, as a company, is a million times better than AMD ever was... :: cough ::
    Reply
  • Nil Einne - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Open source developers have been begging hardware vendors to release sufficient info for their hardware to enable driver development for years. Before 3D graphics was even much of a concern on any platform. And when some people were still excited about the upcoming Netburst platform and RD-RAM. Sure they'd like hardware developers to release open source drivers themselves, but they know they're not always going to get it so sufficient technical details has always been considered a minimum for any company which wants to be considered somewhat open source friendly. Reply

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