AMD has fixed a nasty bug in Windows 11 (and 10) which causes all sorts of unpredictable issues, including the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), with the cure coming as part of its latest graphics driver.
That would be the Adrenalin version 23.3.1 driver, which as AMD notes (opens in new tab) resolves a bug that triggers “intermittent driver timeout, system freeze or BSOD” with “select displays.”
The fix, however, is just for RDNA 3 GPUs at the moment (the RX 7900 XTX and 7900 XT). As Neowin (opens in new tab) points out, this issue also affects previous-gen AMD graphics cards (like the RX 6000 range), and because only RX 7000 cards are mentioned in the driver release notes, presumably the fix for older GPUs is still to come.
Meanwhile, there is a workaround of sorts for those who are still encountering this bug. In theory, the problem lies in the Multi-plane Overlay (MPO), which is part of the Windows Display Driver Module (v1.3), and Neowin explains that the issue has been around since January 2023.
The reason for that strong suspicion is that if you turn off MPO – sadly that requires a Registry tweak, which is not for the faint-hearted – the problem appears to resolve itself (at least in some reported cases).
Analysis: MPO needs some serious attention?
One thing to note is that while this bug sounds seriously nasty – and it certainly can be, given the listed effects – at least the worst manifestations, namely those full lock-ups and BSODs, are relatively rare. (Timeouts are more likely, which are irritating, but not nearly as much of a blow).
Although of course, you don’t want any chance of a hard crash happening in an ideal world. Since Windows 10, the likes of system freezes or blue screens have become much rarer (thankfully). Gone are the days when full-blown crash and burns were a relatively common experience for Windows users.
As to when AMD will smooth things over for those who don’t own a cutting-edge RDNA 3 graphics card, time will tell. Hopefully folks in that boat won’t have long to wait, as the workaround is not really suitable for those who aren’t confident enough with PCs to head into the Registry and do some tinkering. (A wrong step in the Registry can lead to very bad things happening with your PC, so always bear that in mind).
On a broader level, MPO – a feature designed to take some load off the GPU and CPU – has experienced a rather rocky time of things, and been labeled as the cause of a good many other bugs and display-related oddities. It seems like a part of Windows that needs an overhaul, in short, or we could find more strange bugs like the one AMD has (partially) stamped out manifesting themselves down the line.
As a final note, if you are updating to AMD’s driver version 23.3.1, be very careful in the process, as in certain circumstances, a rare but truly dire problem can arise on installation – namely your PC getting bricked.