In a stunning announcement, AMD final week mentioned they’d discontinue help for older chipsets with their upcoming Ryzen 4000 sequence, codenamed Zen 3. In the press deck we acquired for our most up-to-date Ryzen 3 3100 / 3300X evaluation, AMD included a slide that appeared to point that the B350, X370, B450 and X470 chipsets wouldn’t help future Ryzen processors. It’s been clarified since that help for future CPU generations, such because the upcoming Ryzen 4000 sequence can be restricted to motherboards donning a 500 sequence chipset, so present X570 boards and upcoming B550 motherboards.

Some took this to imply (ourselves included) 300 and 400 sequence motherboards would nonetheless help Zen Three processors by unofficial means. AMD’s slide clearly states 300 sequence boards don’t help Ryzen 3000 sequence processors, when actually they do. The scenario nevertheless is sort of totally different, not less than that’s what AMD’s telling us.

While AMD doesn’t formally help Zen 2 processors on 300 sequence motherboards, they did make investments engineering time to make it work and offered motherboard makers with the required AGESA code for help. It was then elective for board markers to implement this replace and help Zen 2 processors on their older 300 sequence boards. Because no AIB needed to look inferior subsequent to the competitors and alienate their very own clients, each maker applied this “beta BIOS” as AMD calls it, and consequently the Ryzen 9 3950X will work on most B350 boards.

AMD axes Zen 3 support on 400-series motherboards: Is AMD pulling an Intel?

However, AMD has now mentioned no “beta BIOS” choice will exist for Zen Three and due to this fact the required code gained’t be made out there to board companions. In different phrases, help for upcoming Ryzen 4000 processors on 300 and 400 sequence motherboards is a no go.

That’s the place we’re at proper now. AMD’s saying it gained’t occur interval. But may AMD’s stance on this alteration between now and the discharge of Zen 3? We’ve reached out to AMD, however they’ve avoided commenting and due to this fact addressing any of our questions at this level, however we now have had some attention-grabbing conversations with a number of of their companions.

Let’s begin with why AMD is limiting help for Zen 3/Ryzen 4000 to B550 and X570 motherboards. In the official AMD blog post, they mentioned the next:

AMD has no plans to introduce “Zen 3” structure help for older chipsets. While we want may allow full help for each processor on each chipset, the flash reminiscence chips that retailer BIOS settings and help have capability limitations. Given these limitations, and the unprecedented longevity of the AM4 socket, there’ll inevitably be a time and place the place a transition to unencumber area is critical—the AMD 500 Series chipsets are that point.

I’ve gotta say that’s a extremely disappointing response from AMD and it’s a garbage purpose. There are 400 sequence boards with bigger capability BIOSes for that very purpose, these boards had been designed to make sure future CPU help and I’ll discuss extra about that in a second.

The second purpose is one I mentioned a very long time in the past when it first turned obvious that BIOS capability points can be an issue transferring ahead. My thought was for AMD and its board companions to supply customers with older boards a number of BIOS choices: have a BIOS with 1st, 2nd and Third-gen help like what we now have now, after which one other model that drops 1st and possibly even 2nd-gen help in favor of Third and 4th-gen help. This is a comparatively simple answer and positively potential to implement.

In our opinion, the actual purpose AMD is axing help is as a result of they do not have sufficient assets internally to help Zen Three on older boards. That’s not one thing AMD needs to confess to, nevertheless it’s virtually actually the reality. It appears rather a lot much less probably that they simply need to promote extra motherboard chipsets as many are suggesting.

AMD axes Zen 3 support on 400-series motherboards: Is AMD pulling an Intel?

Claiming that BIOS capability is the explanation for pulling help is only a poor excuse as there are methods round that if AMD needed. What they need to have mentioned is one thing like, “We wish we could support Zen 3 on older motherboards, however in pushing the boundaries of CPU performance we ran into compatibility complications with boards designed for earlier Ryzen architectures. Focusing on adding support for older motherboards would compromise our ability to deliver a high performance, stable platform on 500 series boards so we decided to end support for older platforms with the upcoming generation.”

To be completely clear, board companions can not help Ryzen 4000 sequence processors on 400-series motherboards with out AMD’s assist, it’s merely not potential. So don’t count on an AIB to crack the code and open up help. Anyway, AMD goes with the BIOS capability story, so let’s transfer on.

Something that I don’t need to get too caught up in is what AMD has or hasn’t promised. From day one AMD mentioned a key characteristic of the AM4 platform can be ‘socket stability’ they usually deliberate to make use of the identical socket till not less than 2020. They claimed that as lately as a 12 months in the past, in a weblog publish from May 2019: “With the launch of the AM4 platform in 2016, we at AMD made a commitment to maintain and support socket AM4 through 2020.” So whereas that doesn’t title chipsets, they do use the phrase ‘maintain’ and that suggests that they may keep motherboard help. At the very least AMD has misled clients.

I discover it attention-grabbing that some persons are saying “AMD told us this would happen” when they claimed AM4 support until 2020. For us it’s ambiguous whether that’s until the start or end of the year. It also only applies to the AM4 socket, not the chipsets as there was never promised chipset support and in any case the AM4 socket is continuing throughout 2020. It’s just a bizarre justification to be honest.

AMD axes Zen 3 support on 400-series motherboards: Is AMD pulling an Intel?

But like I said, I don’t want to waste time arguing about that because frankly it changes nothing. Rather I’m going to talk about why I think AMD’s plans to axe support for older boards moving forward is nonsense. Actually, l should be a little more specific here, I think axing support for 400 series boards is a crap move… 300 series boards though, not so much.

It’s not ideal, but if you bought a 300 series motherboard, particularly a cheap B350 model, I feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth. The fact that a relatively inexpensive B350 board now has the option to support 12 and 16-core processors with relatively large IPC gains compared to the 1st-gen Ryzen parts, well that’s unheard of.

If you were to tell someone buying a B350 board in 2017 that in a few years there would be 12 and 16-core parts offering solid IPC gains and massively improved power consumption, and that these would work on the same board, they’d have probably laughed at you. After all, the previous 9 years had seen nothing but Intel quad-core CPUs for the mainstream, so AMD should be commended for what they’ve done with Ryzen.

However, if you bought a 400 series board, particularly if you did so after the release of the Ryzen 3000 series, then I think you have a right to be more than a little pissed off. If AMD knew BIOS sizes were going to be a problem and as a result would have to axe support, why didn’t they make this clear when X570 boards started showing up? Instead they continued to promote 400 series boards, stating that Ryzen 3000 CPUs would perform just as well on last-gen B450 and X470 products. Therefore they were essentially saying there is no need to invest in an expensive X570 board if you don’t require PCIe 4.0 support.

Fast forward to today and that’s not really true is it? The key feature of the X570 chipset is future CPU support, namely for Zen 3. Had many of you known this I’m sure you would have spent $40 more for something like the Asus TUF Gaming X570 over the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max.

AMD axes Zen 3 support on 400-series motherboards: Is AMD pulling an Intel?

This suggests to me that at the time AMD didn’t know how they were going to tackle future CPU support and they were kind of winging it. I mean, it’d have been dumb for AMD not to advertise X570 as the only chipset to support future CPUs, given the only other selling point was PCIe 4.0, a feature that 95% of users don’t need or use, at least for the first year or so.

We know AMD didn’t communicate any of this to their customers, either because they didn’t want to or at the time didn’t yet know what the future plans were, and I’m starting to think it’s the latter as it appears board partners were in the dark as well. It does seem as though this was a recent decision by AMD and their partners found out the same time we did, which is truly bizarre.

When Zen 2 launched, there were some issues caused by BIOS sizes. MSI went ahead and relaunched most of their 400 series lineup with the Max series. The Max boards were identical to the original models in every way with the exception of the BIOS chip, which was upgraded from 16MBto a 32MB capacity, allowing these boards to comfortably support all Zen processors.

Naturally those seeking future CPU support on a more affordable B450 board went with something like the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max. Those of you who bought one of these boards over the past few months will no doubt be feeling shafted. In fact, this decision by AMD has landed MSI in hot water as they clearly advertised their Max range with support for future AM4 processors. Not to throw MSI under the bus, but in their own blog post they said, they recommend grabbing a B450 Max motherboard if you want a value-oriented motherboard that’ll support not only the latest AMD releases but will also have you covered for all future AM4 product releases… yikes!

It’s hard to give AMD the benefit of the doubt given how this has played out, not to mention they just refreshed Ryzen 3 with the R3 3100 and R3 3300X. What was the point of releasing these budget Zen 2 processors without first releasing the B550 chipset? Given this new information, who is going to spend ~$100 on a B450 board to take advantage of these new Ryzen 3 processors, if those boards don’t support at least one more generation of AM4 processors? That’s a horrible investment at this point.

AMD axes Zen 3 support on 400-series motherboards: Is AMD pulling an Intel?

The 3100 and 3300X aren’t exactly upgrade options for anyone who already owns a Ryzen processor, maybe an R3 1200, but that’s about it. So it seems strange to release quad-core Ryzen 3 parts before B550 boards hit shelves. It’s been suggested by a few reliable industry sources that the B550 chipset has been delayed multiple times, and ultimately AMD decided to hold off until Intel released their 10th-gen Core series, using the B550 chipset as an opportunity to steal some of Intel’s thunder while also spoiling their more affordable B460 release. If that is the case, AMD has played themselves and screwed over their customers in the process.

No doubt I’m now hearing some people say things like “AMD’s just as bad as Intel now, they’ve tasted success and now they’re ready to screw us over”. Personally, I feel that’s a reasonably unhealthy take for a number of causes.

First, the diploma of compatibility AMD has managed to this point is worlds higher than something Intel has offered in latest historical past. Granted, those that purchased a B450 board have now unexpectedly only a single era’s value of help, however not less than they’ve extra than simply quad core processors to select from. Again, I’ve to provide credit score for AMD right here, in a number of brief years they’ve progressed desktop CPU efficiency past everybody’s expectations.

Where AMD has tousled is in speaking what their plans are, contemplating guarantees had been made. At least with Intel we all know we’re getting a tick, then the tock, after which the bugger off and purchase a brand new motherboard fools.

At the top of the day, we won’t be glad about this transfer and we strongly urge AMD to rethink, and not less than open up help to 400-series homeowners. Apparently we are able to affect AMD pricing, so hopefully we are able to lastly use that energy for good, let’s simply hope these powers translate past simply inflating costs of merchandise that we deem too good to be true. But in all seriousness, we actually do hope AMD makes a change right here.

Having that mentioned, possibly most of you don’t care all that a lot primarily based on suggestions we acquired on a latest ballot. Just 25% of the 60Ok individuals who voted suppose this transfer by AMD sucks they usually’re disillusioned. The overwhelming majority agree that it’s unlucky however finally aren’t all that upset, whereas 15% suppose the transfer is ok and are ready to improve their motherboard.

AMD axes Zen Three help on 400-series motherboards: Is AMD pulling an Intel?

Obviously those holding out for B550 or who pulled the trigger on an X570 board don’t care, if anything this just re-enforces that they made the right decision. Those who bought a 300-series board years ago probably aren’t all that phased either, as they’ve done extremely well already. So it’s just those who bought a 400 series board that’ll be upset and in particular those who bought in the last year.

Moving forward, AMD says B550 and X570 chipsets will support Zen 3, but beyond that we’re completely in the dark. Is this the end of the AM4 platform? Will Zen 4 adopt DDR5 and move to a new socket? If so, why break compatibility with the final CPU release? It seems like the worst possible way to end the AM4 platform. We could be looking at a situation where 400-series boards were good for just two generations and the succeeding 500-series are also valid for just two generations, and that would make AMD just as bad as Intel in terms of platform compatibility.

In the past few days we’ve had industry contacts confirm that the AMD BIOS excuse is rubbish and that simple workarounds are possible, just like the one discussed here. One good example: there could be a single large BIOS file that you download, then upon flashing you would select the CPU series you want to support, and it’d flash the appropriate code.

It’s now up to the community to pressure AMD into changing this decision and to open up support for 400-series boards. You better believe that if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile, and we’ll be back to where we were just a few years ago.

Shopping Shortcuts: