It looks like AMD's APU family isn't getting the support it was promised to get. While APUs promise a great combination of general purpose compute capability through their balanced CPU and GPU architecture for budget PC builders and gamers, AMD seems to be focusing more towards the high-end side of things that are part of their Ryzen and Radeon families.
AMD To Ship Only 4 Radeon Graphics Driver Updates Per Year For Raven Ridge APUs
According to Hexus, the AMD Raven Ridge processors got their first Radeon graphics driver update in May 2018 while the processors launched back in February 2018. That's a three-month difference and we know that on the Radeon graphics side, the driver updates are more frequent with multiple releases to fix game bugs, optimize stability and increase performance across a range of titles. This showed that AMD APU users were missing out on a lot of action and not getting the same level of support as other AMD products while being based on the same fundamental technology.
We also saw similar treatment with the Intel Kaby Lake-G processors which were delayed Radeon software support since launch and only got their first drivers a few days ago. According to the latest details, AMD representative, AMDMatt at OCUK, has confirmed that the Raven Ridge APUs will get graphics driver updates every 3 months as WHQL releases. This means that we are looking at a quarterly driver release program which will be delivering a maximum of 4 Radeon driver updates per year.
APU drivers are updated every 3 months as WHQL releases only. via AMDMatt
This indicates that users who are running a Raven Ridge APU to play games would miss out on major performance-enhancing drivers and bug fixes that launch between the quarterly driver interval. It's really disappointing to see a great product being botched this way, but we can hope for AMD to fix this driver plan in favor of a more robust driver delivery schedule.
AMD Motherboard Partners Dropping Support For Bristol Ridge, The First AM4 CPU Family
The second story (via Anandtech) is related to the first AM4 CPU family, known as Bristol Ridge. Bristol Ridge, while not using Zen core architecture and based on the Excavator core, was the first to feature support on the AM4 platform along with DDR4 memory. Now, almost two years after their release, motherboard vendors may be forced to end support for the first AM4 CPU family. Currently, it's only a few motherboard vendors and just a few products that have removed support but it could be more products in the future.
The reason being cited is that the BIOS on AM4 motherboards (128 Mb) doesn't carry enough space to store new BIOS microcode. The microcode is what's needed for the motherboard to know the CPU and the frequency it would run at, along with other details. If the support isn't there, the board will not boot. Now, due to the space becoming a limitation, for the motherboard to support new BIOS updates, older CPU support is being removed from upcoming BIOS's. Most of the motherboards are already budget-friendly and vendors can't do much to increase BIOS chip size since that would increase the cost. Also, only higher boards are known to use dual BIOS designs so most of the low-cost products to have such implementations is out of the question.
There are certain solutions outside of just BIOS chip changes such as unified BIOS for Ryzen based chips (that make the bulk of the BIOS size) which will save size in BIOS updates. Board makers can also ship two BIOSes, one for the older chips to keep platform support for such chips and one for the new ones but if the user accidentally installs the latest one on their Bristol Ridge APU, that would move it to legacy status, hence terminating support for older CPUs and related security updates. If this goes on, we can see older CPUs being moved to legacy status on various motherboards due to BIOS limitations.