AMD Announces Ryzen BIOS Updates for Boost and Idle, New SDK

Source: AMD 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 (1.0.0.3ABBA) 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:

Boost Changes

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.

Our estimation of the benefit is broadly based on workloads like PCMark 10 and Kraken JavaScript Benchmark. The actual improvement may be lower or higher depending on the workload, system configuration, and thermal/cooling solution implemented in the PC.

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.

AMD Announces Ryzen BIOS Updates for Boost and Idle, New SDK - Processors  1

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 1.0.0.2 to 1.0.0.3AB have been addressed with this new 1.0.0.3ABBA update. That’s right. ABBA. Maybe it’s time for AGESA 1.0.0.4, 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 (2.0.2.1271, 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

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About The Author

Sebastian Peak

Editor-in-Chief at PC Perspective. Writer of computer stuff, vintage PC nerd, and full-time dad. Still in search of the perfect smartphone. In his nonexistent spare time Sebastian's hobbies include hi-fi audio, guitars, and road bikes. Currently investigating time travel.

7 Comments

  1. arakisBunch

    if the pure speculative shit the tech pundits have been yelling about for days, the shit about lowering voltage to extend life, including our own josh, then all these dickheads should make a loud and clear apology, especially arrogant, glib, angry, steve at gn

    • arakisBunch

      should be:

      “… extent life, is in fact complete bullshit, including …”

      • Sebastian Peak

        It’s fun to speculate, but we have no proof that AMD has misrepresented this situation. They definitely lowered voltages after the original AGESA 1.0.0.2, but it is just speculation as to why until someone talks. Maybe they were too high before launch and the plan was always to lower them at release. 1.0.0.3 was available from most vendors when the CPUs actually went on sale, but reviewers (like me) had already completed testing with 1.0.0.2.

        I do believe that a big part of the problem is that AMD has been ambiguous about AGESA updates and won’t provide release notes, but that doesn’t prove anything, either. It would just be nice to have a full list of changes instead of these long community updates after the fact.

        I also think it’s pretty safe to ignore anything sourced from a competitor regarding AMD’s products and practices (even if one of the slides published in articles like the one from Tom’s Hardware includes a chart I published in the 3600X review). Of course Intel has a vested interest in deprecating AMD’s processors, valid or not. It’s just business. Listen to people you trust about this stuff and look for actual numbers and not speculation.

        I have personally seen lower performance in some situations with the newer AGESA code, and I want to know myself if it has been fixed with this update. I won’t really know until I test it myself. My stance is that we will wait for finalized BIOS releases before flashing any boards, but as soon as the new AGESA 1.0.0.3ABBA is available I’ll be benchmarking everything over again to compare to 1.0.0.2 and 1.0.0.3AB.

        But the one thing I won’t know is how any of this affects longevity. We won’t know until either someone comes up with a way to accelerate the aging process, or we just wait long enough for nature to take its course.

        • arakisBunch

          sebastian, why do we want to know anymore than we want to know the same about intel cpu’s?

          the issue doesn’t exist yet you felt compelled to rehash it in the last paragraph

          the issue was fake news, yet you perpetuate it by suggesting it needs to be tested

          sorry for being a dick, just saying

          not personal

          you are terrific

    • BackwoodsNC

      Could not have said it better about GN. Back around the first part of july you almost needed a Xanax to watch that channel; always complaining about WORKING! I just stopped watching and reading that site.

      Anyways, zen2 is just going through it’s growing pains. I am ok being the beta tester!

      • arakisBunch

        thanks much for your comments

        i feel lucky to be able to buy and own any of the zen cpu’s, and i am loving my 2700x and look forward to my new build with zen 2

        or maybe i will just pop it in my 470 thanks to amd keeping the same socket, as they promised

        oh, i forgot, the tech reviewers are crying that amd does not support pci-e 4 on older boards, as if that is something they are entitled to

        why should i get pci-e on my 470?

        i didn’t fucking expect it or pay for it

        what entitled motherfuckers you reviewers are, especially, as i said, gc steve

        • Sebastian Peak

          Ask Josh if you have to compromise with Zen 2 on X470! And he’s using a PCIe 4.0 SSD with his (and you’ll get him to update his BIOS over his dead body). Actually, after all of the growing pains of X570 to this point I have used a GIGABYTE X470 Gaming 7 board with Ryzen 3000 processors and compatibility has been perfect, with excellent memory support.

          As to entitlement, you are right. I think it happens to everyone at some point; surrounded by expensive hardware that just keeps showing up, having access to every new GPU and CPU before it hits the market, and in general becoming completely out of touch with reality.

          Still, I don’t mind being called out for being a little entitled because it reminds me that if I didn’t have this job I’d be using some pretty low-end components since I’ve never gone over about $300 for a single component in my life. Before I ever attempted to review anything my sole reason for reading reviews on sites like this was to try to find the best performance per dollar when I found the cash to get a new GPU or SSD or something.

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