Ryzen and AM4 Continued

Ryzen is a slightly different beast when it comes to its I/O functionality.  It features a full x16 PCI-E implementation that can be split into 2 x8 for SLI and CrossFire.  There are four more PCI-E lanes that connect this CPU to the chipset.  Above that it features an I/O stack that can be configured in multiple ways.  It supports 2 SATA6G ports that can be mixed and matched with PCI-E lanes supporting NVME.  In what is probably going to be the most popular implementation on X370 boards will be the single x4 NVME connection that will provide tremendous I/O bandwidth directly to the CPU.  It also features the four native USB 3.1 gen 1 ports.

When we look at the upcoming chipsets we must remember that the specifications include those of the SoC being utilized with the board.

What pops out to me here is that AMD is still supporting SATA Express.  It can support up to two of these implementations (each of which is comprised of two SATA6G ports and two lanes of PCI-E 3.0).  We may see a handful of boards with this implemented, but considering how nonexistent SATA Express drives are this will not be a popular or much used option.

The setup that AMD is giving to its partners is extremely flexible in how it can be implemented.  We will see a variety of boards sporting differing features that will hopefully fit the needs of a wide swath of consumers.  AMD has finally caught up with Intel in base features and they will leverage other 3rd party chips again to differentiate again the loadouts of boards from their partners.

We do not yet know the performance of these chipsets as compared to what Intel offers.  AMD had a very competitive SATA6G implementation with the SB850/950 chips that gave them a feature advantage over Intel at the time.  By the time Intel came out with similar numbers of parts we saw that Intel was only about 5% faster overall in performance from AMD.  This was a far cry from the previous SATA3G implementations from AMD that were severely lacking in performance and also had some real compatibility and driver issues.  Hopefully this chipset continues to provide good overall performance with SATA, NVME, and USB 3.1.

If there is one slightly disappointing thing with this release it is that the physical implementation of the AM4 socket is not compatible with previous AM3+ and FM2+ coolers.  New coolers and brackets will be required to fit the new dimensions of the AM4 socket infrastructure.  Some things like All-in-One liquid cooling kits will just require a new bracket while the Wraith coolers from AMD will have to be redesigned to fit.  This should not be a significant problem for AMD as these changes can be done quickly with many products that do not have a set mounting mechanism.  Popular parts like the CoolerMaster 212 EVO will just need a new bracket to fit in with AM4.

It has been a long time since there was some real excitement around AMD’s CPUs from the enthusiast crowd.  AMD looks to be providing a strong competitor with Ryzen and they are backing it up with a modern motherboard chipset implementation.  It will be feature comparable to what Intel has in the market now and could provide a few more tricks with some clever engineering.

AMD expects AM4 motherboards and their Ryzen CPU to ship in Q1 of this year.

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