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Intel Issues Kaby Lake-G Driver Update After 12 Months, But It Comes From AMD

Update 03/29/2020, 3:10pm PT: Intel issued the driver update on 02/10/2020, meaning the driver delay lasted 12 months, not 14. The text has been amended.

Original Article:

After leaving its Hades Canyon NUC customers without new Vega GPU drivers for 12 months, Intel has quietly stopped providing its own Intel-branded and validated graphics drivers for Kaby Lake-G processors and now allows customers to use AMD’s mainline graphics drivers. Intel Xeon

In a partnership that defied the laws of nature, bitter rivals Intel and AMD collaborated on the Kaby Lake G processors that debuted back in Hades Canyon NUCs in 2017. These chips featured a discrete AMD Radeon RX Vega M graphics unit paired with Intel’s Kaby Lake processing cores in a single package, thus providing Intel a capable chip with impressive gaming performance for its enthusiast-geared NUCs.

This unnatural act may have yielded award-winning levels of performance, but Intel killed the project in October 2019 as it switched focus to its own Xe Graphics Architecture for future products. However, Intel was still responsible for validating, branding, and delivering the graphics drivers for the Radeon Vega GPU. Despite the company’s termination of the project, it promised to provide driver updates for five years.

Regardless of those assurances, we noticed that Intel didn’t issue a Vega driver update for a year, leaving its customers stranded without day zero game updates since February 2019. We reached out to Intel in January 2020 to check on the status of the graphics drivers for Hades Canyon NUCs, to which the company responded:

“8th Gen Intel Core processors with discrete graphics will follow Intel’s typical driver support model, which is to provide driver updates for about five years following the launch of a product. OEMs and customers will get their drivers and support directly from Intel. We are currently working on the next graphics driver update, and we expect the next driver to be available in the coming months.”

Twelve months after the last driver update, Intel quietly issued a new ‘driver download’ that went unnoticed, but it is merely a PDF that instructs users to head over to an AMD download portal for Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics drivers. The new drivers consist of AMD’s mainline Adrenalin 2020 drivers, meaning that Hades Canyon NUC customers can install AMD’s latest drivers, thus receiving important performance boosts for new games and the other advantages that come along with new drivers.

The move may seem small, but Intel effectively left its Hades Canyon customers stranded without up-to-date support for a year. That isn’t a good look for a company that asks its customers to adopt radical new technologies on a fairly regular basis.

As an interesting aside, the Radeon Vega Graphics inside the Hades Canyon NUCs came along with their own controversy, as many noted they were more similar to Polaris than Vega due to the varying IP blocks Intel used for the design (we also see some of the same controversy emerging over the RDNA 2 graphics in the Xbox Series X and Sony PS5). You can read our Kaby Lake-G Vega investigation here.



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