AMD may have hit a home run with its Zen architecture, but when graphics are thrown into the mix, there is definitely room for improvement. One of the big complaints with AMD's Ryzen Mobile products is that graphics drivers are slow to roll out. It's drawn so much attention that AMD has now publicly acknowledged the issue, and promises to do better in the near future.
Driver releases are an important part of any product that requires or benefits from custom tailored drivers (versus generic ones), and it is especially critical when dealing with enthusiasts, gamers, and graphics professionals. That's why the situation has been so disappointing with Ryzen Mobile, an otherwise exciting product that combines AMD's Zen CPU and Vega GPU architectures.
In a three-paragraph post to Reddit, AMD addressed the issue head on.
"Feedback is a critical part of how AMD delivers great products. You have made it clear we have room for improvement on graphics drivers updates for AMD Ryzen Mobile processor-based notebooks, both for APU-only platforms and discrete notebook designs," AMD said.
AMD went on to explain that it is committed to working with OEMs to release graphics drivers for Ryzen Mobile platforms more frequently than it has been.
"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," AMD said.
So why wasn't this already the case? AMD's explanation is that its graphics drivers are typically tailored for specific OEM platforms, and that trying to release a broad driver for all Ryzen Mobile systems "could result in less-than-ideal user experiences."
The company's solution is to put a bigger emphasis on graphics drivers, but it will still require that its OEM partners get on board. It's not clear how much pressure AMD will exert on OEMs, and how responsive they will be. There is some skepticism among the commenters on Reddit.
"This isn't going to go down well. Cool, let OEMs control their updates, but if the user so wishes, let them download the latest up to date drivers from the website," one user suggests.
To AMD's credit, this is better than nothing. However, we'll have to wait and see how its OEM partners handle the situation. OEMs that are slow to roll out updated graphics drivers risk driving away customers, especially if the competition is keeping up with AMD's release schedule.