Drivers make the world go 'round. That is true of all the actual drivers who ferry goods and people, of course, but it's also true of the software that improves the performance of whatever hardware it's associated with. Yet new drivers have been slow to reach devices bearing AMD's Ryzen Mobile processors, to the point where the company felt compelled to respond on Reddit to the community's mounting complaints about the issue.
Intel's loss has been AMD's gain in the laptop market. Ryzen Mobile processors debuted in 2017, and less than a year later, analysts lauded the ready availability of AMD's CPUs while Intel struggled to produce enough Whiskey Lake processors to meet demand. The company also revealed the Ryzen Mobile Pro lineup in May so it could power a broader range of devices, which could loosen Intel's stranglehold on the laptop market.
But not everything has broken AMD's way. TechPowerUp noted that some devices with Ryzen Mobile processors haven't received graphics driver updates for more than a year, which is almost unheard of when it comes to modern hardware. Companies like AMD and Nvidia regularly push updated drivers to support new hardware, bolster performance in upcoming games, and otherwise improve the experience for their customers.
Eventually the complaints about this problem led AMD to comment on the /r/AMD subreddit. The company opened by blaming the lack of updates on the fact that its new graphics drivers are "typically tailored for specific OEM platforms," which means "releasing generic APU graphics drivers across all AMD Ryzen mobile processor-based mobile systems could result in less-than-ideal user experiences," and it doesn't want to do that.
Here's the company's proposed solution:
"We are committing to work with our OEMs to increase the release frequency of AMD Ryzen Mobile processor graphics drivers. Starting in 2019, we will target enabling OEMs to deliver a twice-annual update of graphics drivers specifically for all AMD Ryzen Mobile processor-based systems. Because the release is ultimately up to the OEMs, this may vary from platform to platform, but we want to put out a clear goal for us and our OEM partners. Those updates should be available for download on the respective OEM websites.
"In addition, AMD will continue to evaluate ways in which we can offer validated graphics drivers for AMD Ryzen Mobile processor-based notebooks aligned to the latest AMD software updates, and will provide updates as soon as we are able."
That's basically a long way of saying that AMD wants to nicely ask OEMs to please release more graphics driver updates so people will stop complaining on Reddit. Many of the people commenting on post seem to think so, at least, with several noting that AMD could allow Ryzen Mobile users to install generic drivers at their own risk but refuses to do so. An even greater number believe manufacturers will just blow AMD off.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.