AMD Announces Ryzen BIOS Updates for Boost and Idle, New SDK
BIOS Updates Rolling Out in the Next Three Weeks
AMD has updated the community on the progress of their upcoming changes to Ryzen 3000 Series idle and boost behavior, with another new AGESA version (18.104.22.168ABBA) coming soon from motherboard vendors.
In a Ryzen Community Update post published today, AMD’s Robert Hallock explains the upcoming changes to boost behavior, as well as clarifying just how AMD’s boost technology works:
Starting with our commitment to provide you an update on processor boost, our analysis indicates that the processor boost algorithm was affected by an issue that could cause target frequencies to be lower than expected. This has been resolved. We’ve also been exploring other opportunities to optimize performance, which can further enhance the frequency. These changes are now being implemented in flashable BIOSes from our motherboard partners. Across the stack of 3rd Gen Ryzen Processors, our internal testing shows that these changes can add approximately 25-50MHz to the current boost frequencies under various workloads.
AMD offers this explanation of Ryzen Boost behavior:
Going forward, it’s important to understand how our boost technology operates. Our processors perform intelligent real-time analysis of the CPU temperature, motherboard voltage regulator current (amps), socket power (watts), loaded cores, and workload intensity to maximize performance from millisecond to millisecond. Ensuring your system has adequate thermal paste; reliable system cooling; the latest motherboard BIOS; reliable BIOS settings/configuration; the latest AMD chipset driver; and the latest operating system can enhance your experience.
Following the installation of the latest BIOS update, a consumer running a bursty, single threaded application on a PC with the latest software updates and adequate voltage and thermal headroom should see the maximum boost frequency of their processor. PCMark 10 is a good proxy for a user to test the maximum boost frequency of the processor in their system. It is fully expected that if users run a workload like Cinebench, which runs for an extended period of time, the operating frequencies may be lower than maximum throughout the run.
Lower Idle Voltage
Among the changes to this new AGESA version is a revision to idle behavior, with the end result of lower desktop idle voltages (~1.2V). This is being carried out with the addition of a an “activity filter” which AMD says will allow “the CPU boost algorithm itself to disregard intermittent OS and application background noise”.
In late July, we implemented a series of software changes that would help the processor ignore requests for voltage/frequency boost from lightweight applications. The goal was to make the processor more relaxed at the desktop, but poised to react for serious workloads. While many of you were happy with the effect of the software changes, some of you were still grappling with cases where the CPU was a bit overzealous with boost. We wanted to smooth those out, too.
Today we’re announcing that AGESA 1003ABBA carries firmware-level changes designed to do just that. The changes primarily arrive in the form of an “activity filter” that empowers the CPU boost algorithm itself to disregard intermittent OS and application background noise. Example test cases might include: video playback, game launchers, monitoring utilities, and peripheral utilities. These cases tend to make regular requests for a higher boost state, but their intermittent nature would fall below the threshold of the activity filter.
Net-net, we expect you’ll see lower desktop voltages, around 1.2V, for the core(s) actively handling such tasks. We believe this solution will be even more effective than the July changes for an even wider range of applications.
Please keep in mind, however, that this firmware change is not a cap. The processor must still be free to boost if active workload(s) seriously require it, so you should still expect occasions where the processor will explore its designed and tested voltage range of 0.2V to 1.5V.
The Update Isn’t Ready Just Yet
While some pre-release BIOS builds have leaked out and at least one outlet has testes an early version, we have not reached a final, shipping state for this AGESA update just yet:
These improvements will be available in final BIOSes starting in about three weeks’ time, depending on the testing and implementation schedule of your motherboard manufacturer. Additional information on boost frequency in the 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen Processors can also be obtained from this separate blog update.
AMD also addressed speculation that longevity/reliability was a catalyst for the boost behavior changes users have observed, denying that any changes were made for this purpose.
In addition, we do want to address recent questions about reliability. We perform extensive engineering analysis to develop reliability models and to model the lifetime of our processors before entering mass production. While AGESA 1003AB contained changes to improve system stability and performance for users, changes were not made for product longevity reasons. We do not expect that the improvements that have been made in boost frequency for AGESA 1003ABBA will have any impact on the lifetime of your Ryzen processor.
We await final BIOS versions from motherboard vendors to update our internal test platforms and compare results with our Ryzen 3000 Series processors. It will be interesting to see first-hand exactly how the disparity in voltage (and performance) which we observed from AGESA 22.214.171.124 to 126.96.36.199AB have been addressed with this new 188.8.131.52ABBA update. That’s right. ABBA. Maybe it’s time for AGESA 184.108.40.206, and just forget about appending the version with letters.
New Monitoring SDK
Also announced today was the new AMD Monitoring SDK (coming September 30) which allows “anyone to build a public monitoring utility that can reliably report a range of key processor metrics in a consistent manner”. The company says that more than 30 API calls will be available in first SDK release, including this list of highlights:
- Current Operating Temperature: Reports the average temperature of the CPU cores over a short sample period. By design, this metric filters transient spikes that can skew temperature reporting.
- Peak Core(s) Voltage (PCV): Reports the Voltage Identification (VID) requested by the CPU package of the motherboard voltage regulators. This voltage is set to service the needs of the cores under active load, but isn’t necessarily the final voltage experienced by all of the CPU cores.
- Average Core Voltage (ACV): Reports the average voltages experienced by all processor cores over a short sample period, factoring in active power management, sleep states, Vdroop, and idle time.
- EDC (A), TDC (A), PPT (W): The current and power limits for your motherboard VRMs and processor socket.
- Peak Speed: The maximum frequency of the fastest core during the sample period.
- Effective Frequency: The frequency of the processor cores after factoring in time spent in sleep states (e.g. cc6 core sleep or pc6 package sleep). Example: One processor core is running at 4GHz while awake, but in cc6 core sleep for 50% of the sample period. The effective frequency of this core would be 2GHz. This value can give you a feel for how often the cores are using aggressive power management capabilities that aren’t immediately obvious (e.g. clock or voltage changes).
- Various voltages and clocks, including: SoC voltage, DRAM voltage, fabric clock, memory clock, etc.
The latest version of AMD’s Ryzen Master software (220.127.116.111, available now) includes the new Average Core Voltage API for 3rd Gen Ryzen Processors.
It’s shaping up to be a busy September/October with much new Ryzen testing to be done