A Bug in Radeon Drivers Can Damage Windows OS

Bug in Radeon drivers
Written by Emma Davis

Users and journalists have discovered a rare bug that occurs due to a conflict between Windows and the latest AMD Radeon Adrenalin 23.2.2 drivers. The problem leads to a serious “breakage” of the OS, after which the system cannot be booted even in recovery mode.

Let me remind you that we also wrote that AMD fixed dozens of vulnerabilities in graphics driver and more, and also that NVIDIA Released Update That Fixes Ten Vulnerabilities in Windows GPU Drivers.

Also the media wrote that AMD Chipset Driver Bug Allows Bypassing KASLR And Accessing Sensitive Data.

Adrenalin version 23.2.1 was released in mid-February 2023, and since then, some users have experienced a strange issue that forces them to reinstall the system completely.

Bug in Radeon drivers

One of the victims was the editor of PCWorld magazine Brad Chacos, who spoke about the incident in detail. It all started when Chakos received a custom Radeon RX 7900 XT for testing and installed a graphics card in his computer:

Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

I already had a GeForce RTX 4070 Ti and while it was installed I manually updated Windows 10. I then shut down the system and replaced the 4070 Ti with a Radeon RX 7900 XT. Booted up fine. Then I used the Windows 10 Add/Remove Programs tool to remove all Nvidia software from my PC and rebooted. Standard stuff. I then used the fantastic DDU Uninstaller to make sure the Nvidia software was indeed completely uninstalled and rebooted. Everything went fine. And then the problems started.the researcher wrote.

The PCWorld editor downloaded the Adrenalin 23.2.2 WQHL drivers recommended on the 7900 XT website and installed them. To perform a clean install, he checked the “factory reset” checkbox, but it turned out that checking this box, combined with automatic Windows updates going on in the background at that time, completely disables the OS.

Bug in Radeon drivers
Unfortunate checkbox when installing drivers

Everything was going well until the program said that I needed to restart my computer in order to complete the driver installation. After restarting, my system showed the MSI BIOS splash screen as usual, but during the second attempt to boot Windows, I received a blue screen of death and an “Inaccessible Boot Device” error code. <…> The system then went into an endless loop of BSOD > reboot > BSOD > reboot without triggering automatic repair attempts and without giving me the usual options for troubleshooting Windows.says Chacos.

When the journalist tried to remove the custom Radeon RX 7900 XT from the computer, replacing it with the usual Radeon RX 7900 XT from AMD, the endless loop of reboots was interrupted and he tried to automatically restore the system, but it only got worse.

Instead of fixing the problem, Startup Repair only made it worse. The screen went black and the [computer] was no longer responding. Now, whenever I tried to boot the computer, I would see a small “Windows Thinking” circle briefly spinning past the BIOS screen and then returning to endless blackness. My Windows installation was so dead that there wasn’t even a BSOD anymore, and I wasn’t able to use the standard Windows troubleshooters.Chacos writes.

Attempts to change the Radeon RX 7900 XT to the proven and working RTX 4070 Ti and Intel Arc A750 also did not bring any result.

Googling the issue, Chacos finally found an article on WCCFTech dated mid-February, as well as many user complaints that Adrenalin 23.2.1 completely destroys Windows.

Chakos ironically notes that it’s good to be the executive editor of a major computer media, as he was contacted by AMD representatives shortly after his own complaint on Twitter.

As it turned out, AMD engineers were already aware of this exotic problem, and finally they even managed to find an equally strange way to fix it, which eventually helped to revive Chakos’ computer.

When the BIOS splash screen appears immediately after turning on the PC, press the power button and try to convince Windows to attempt automatic repair. I tried four times, but to no avail. I was told to continue like this, in the end it worked. After fifteen attempts, I succeeded!Writes the editor of PCWorld.

At the same time, AMD said that the company’s engineers had difficulty recreating this problem in the laboratory due to its extreme rarity, and a company representative even jokingly called the journalist “patient zero”. According to AMD, the bug can occur “in a very small number of cases, if the PC is updated during the installation of AMD: Adrenalin Edition software.”

We recommend that users ensure that all system updates are applied or paused before installing the driver, and that the Factory Reset option is unchecked during the AMD driver installation process.the company stressed.
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About the author

Emma Davis

I'm writer and content manager (a short time ago completed a bachelor degree in Marketing from the Gustavus Adolphus College). For now, I have a deep drive to study cyber security.

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