AMD To Support Zen 3 On B450 and X470 Motherboards After All

Source: AMD AMD To Support Zen 3 On B450 and X470 Motherboards After All

Your One-Way Ticket To Zen 3

In a surprising move, AMD has reversed course on Zen 3 processor support for 400-series chipset motherboards, posting the news with an update on Reddit this morning. The full content of that post is reproduced below:

As we head into our upcoming “Zen 3” architecture, there are considerable technical challenges that face a CPU socket as long-lived as AMD Socket AM4. For example, we recently announced that we would not support “Zen 3” on AMD 400 Series motherboards due to serious constraints in SPI ROM capacities in most of the AMD 400 Series motherboards. This is not the first time a technical hurdle has come up with Socket AM4 given the longevity of this socket, but it is the first time our enthusiasts have faced such a hurdle.

Over the past week, we closely reviewed your feedback on that news: we watched every video, read every comment and saw every Tweet. We hear that many of you hoped for a longer upgrade path. We hear your hope that AMD B450 and X470 chipsets would carry you into the “Zen 3” era.

Our experience has been that large-scale BIOS upgrades can be difficult and confusing especially as processors come on and off the support lists. As the community of Socket AM4 customers has grown over the past three years, our intention was to take a path forward that provides the safest upgrade experience for the largest number of users. However, we hear you loud and clear when you tell us you would like to see B450 or X470 boards extended to the next generation “Zen 3” products.

As the team weighed your feedback against the technical challenges we face, we decided to change course. As a result, we will enable an upgrade path for B450 and X470 customers that adds support for next-gen AMD Ryzen Processors with the “Zen 3” architecture. This decision is very fresh, but here is a first look at how the upgrade path is expected to work for customers of these motherboards.

  • We will develop and enable our motherboard partners with the code to support “Zen 3”-based processors in select beta BIOSes for AMD B450 and X470 motherboards.
  • These optional BIOS updates will disable support for many existing AMD Ryzen Desktop Processor models to make the necessary ROM space available.
  • The select beta BIOSes will enable a one-way upgrade path for AMD Ryzen Processors with “Zen 3,” coming later this year. Flashing back to an older BIOS version will not be supported.
  • To reduce the potential for confusion, our intent is to offer BIOS download only to verified customers of 400 Series motherboards who have purchased a new desktop processor with “Zen 3” inside. This will help us ensure that customers have a bootable processor on-hand after the BIOS flash, minimizing the risk a user could get caught in a no-boot situation.
  • Timing and availability of the BIOS updates will vary and may not immediately coincide with the availability of the first “Zen 3”-based processors.
  • This is the final pathway AMD can enable for 400 Series motherboards to add new CPU support. CPU releases beyond “Zen 3” will require a newer motherboard.
  • AMD continues to recommend that customers choose an AMD 500 Series motherboard for the best performance and features with our new CPUs.

There are still many details to iron out, but we’ve already started the necessary planning. As we get closer to the launch of this upgrade path, you should expect another blog just like this to provide the remaining details and a walkthrough of the specific process.

At CES 2017, AMD made a commitment: we would support AMD Socket AM4 until 2020. We’ve spent the next three years working very hard to fulfill that promise across four architectures, plus pioneering use of new technologies like chiplets and PCIe Gen 4. Thanks to your feedback, we are now set to bring “Zen 3” to the AMD 400 Series chipsets. We’re grateful for your passion and support of AMD’s products and technologies.

We’ll talk again soon.

Zen 3 support on b450 and x470 is a mess (editorial)

The complexity of this situation is exactly why AMD decided to shift support for Zen 3 to 500-series chipset motherboards in the first place. This reversal of their position seems fraught with peril, and places motherboard vendors in an awkward position.

To reduce the potential for confusion, our intent is to offer BIOS download only to verified customers of 400 Series motherboards who have purchased a new desktop processor with “Zen 3” inside. This will help us ensure that customers have a bootable processor on-hand after the BIOS flash, minimizing the risk a user could get caught in a no-boot situation.

Sure, it can be (and has been extensively) argued that AMD promised support, and that 400-series motherboards can and should support Zen 3 processors as they use the same AM4 socket. It will probably be argued that 300-series boards should get Zen 3 as well, and to that end AMD has still not made everyone happy.

Timing and availability of the BIOS updates will vary and may not immediately coincide with the availability of the first “Zen 3”-based processors.

But what is the outcome of this decision? For users, it will involve first locating support for Zen 3 processors via a beta BIOS from their motherboard vendor. If their particular B450 or X470 motherboard is receiving a beta BIOS, they can purchase a new Zen 3 processor, confident that will actually work in their board. Not every motherboard will support this.

The select beta BIOSes will enable a one-way upgrade path for AMD Ryzen Processors with “Zen 3,” coming later this year. Flashing back to an older BIOS version will not be supported.

And so, fragmentation is inevitable. That same fragmentation that AMD said they didn’t want when the decision was made to drop PCI Express 4.0 support from 400-series motherboards. I guess PCIe Gen4 didn’t matter that much, after all?

AMD To Support Zen 3 On B450 and X470 Motherboards After All - Motherboards  1

Intel forces a platform change every 1-2 years. But AMD wants to be different. And so, even though PCIe 4.0 support is out the window and the upgrade path to Zen 3 on these B450 and X470 motherboards is, at best, messy, AMD has fulfilled their promise. Mostly.

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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.

4 Comments

  1. BigTed

    Good news for the small number it affects, though I guess more people upgrade Ryzen as its more of an enthusiasts platform. Plus AMD has made some good generational performance increases that make it more worthwhile.

    The last time I upgraded a CPU in socket was a P120 to a P200 back in the 90’s if my memory serves me correctly.

    Reply
  2. Dvon of Edzore

    Wasn’t this what UEFI was designed to fix? If the EPROM is too small, store the extra support code in the EFI partition on the disk.
    Or is this a feature still coming in the next release?

    Reply
    • Sebastian Peak

      Your question had me looking for the UEFI spec (PDF) this morning, and if I’m understanding this it still requires a platform initialization before it takes over. The board still has to POST, and thus the processor must be supported.

      Now, if more of this AGESA code was on the CPU itself

      Reply
  3. WayneJetSki

    I wish I didnt cheap out and just get a B350 motherboard. If I know if I could had a Zen3 chip in my machine now I would have just gotten a B450 board. I like my Ryzen 5 1600 but I really love the upgrade choices I do get with AMD Vs if I had gone with Intel.

    Yeah it does seem like a bit of a mess right now but it will be interesting to see if some of those issues go away with more updates in the next couple months.

    Reply

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