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.