AMD has explained to Tech Report that its new FreeSync technology will only work in new silicon.
FreeSync is AMD's initiative to enable variable-refresh display technology for smoother in-game animation and was supposed to give Nvidia's G-Sync technology a good kicking.
G-Sync has already resulted in some top production gaming monitors like the Asus ROG Swift PG278Q.
However AMD said that the only the newest GPU silicon from AMD will support FreeSync displays. Specifically, the Hawaii GPU that drives the Radeon R9 290 and 290X will be compatible with FreeSync monitors, as will the Tonga GPU in the Radeon R9 285.
The Bonaire chip that powers the Radeon R7 260X and HD 7790 cards could support FreeSync, but that is not certain yet.
Now that would be OK if the current Radeon lineup is populated by a mix of newer and older GPU technology. What AMD is saying is that there are some brand-new graphics cards selling today that will not support FreeSync monitors when they arrive.
The list of products that won't work with FreeSync includes anything based on the older revision of the GCN architecture used in chips like Tahiti and Pitcairn.
So if you have splashed out on the the Radeon R9 280, 280X, 270, and 270X hoping that it will be FreeSync-capable you will be out of luck. Nor will any older Radeons in the HD 7000 and 8000 series.
Nvidia's G-Sync works with GeForce graphics cards based on the Kepler architecture, which include a broad swath of current and past products dating back to the GeForce GTX 600 series.