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AMD confirms you will need a 500 series chipset or newer for Zen 3

by Mark Tyson on 8 May 2020, 10:11


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Yesterday the NDA was lifted for reviews of the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100, and you have probably read though the HEXUS editor's deep dive review already. In brief, these Ryzen 3 3000 series desktop processors neatly complete the Zen 2 stack bring pressure to the $100 price region. Both new processors have appeal at the prices they shoulder but the Ryzen 3 3300X pulls ahead enough in real-world usage to be worth the extra $20, in our opinion.

Alongside the release of the new desktop processors, AMD officially launched the long awaited B550 chipset. Due mid-June, motherboards with this mainstream chipset are more closely aligned with processors like the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100, price and feature wise. For some, B550 will still be over-featured at this level, and a better match will probably be the upcoming AMD A520 chipset boards. Incidentally, Asus accidentally listed five A520 budget motherboards at some point yesterday.

Plenty of B550 designs are on the way

Accompanying yesterday's processor launch, AMD Senior Technical Marketing Manager, Robert Hallock, published an interesting blog post about the "exciting future of AMD socket AM4". The post heralded the achievements of AM4 since 2016, as below:

  • 4X more cores and 8X more threads (4C4T → 16C32t)
  • 4X architectures (“Excavator”→“Zen”→“Zen+”→“Zen 2”)
  • 4X process technologies (28nm → 14nm → 12nm → 7nm)
  • 4X PCIe bandwidth (12x PCIe Gen 3 → 24x PCIe Gen 4)
  • +33% DRAM bandwidth (DDR4-2400 → DDR4-3200+)

Pre- AMD 500 series chipsets won't work with Zen 3 processors

While the socket still has an "exciting future" there are some constraints stopping the chipsets used possessing such wide architectural compatibility. Hallock answered a question on whether Zen 3 processors will be supported by AMD Socket AM4 with an emphatic "Yes!" However, on the topic of pre-500 series chipsets, that most current AMD CPU users own and use now, the future isn't so rosy.

"AMD has no plans to introduce 'Zen 3' architecture support for older chipsets," Hallock told an imaginary questioner. "While we wish could enable full support for every processor on every chipset, the flash memory chips that store BIOS settings and support have capacity limitations. Given these limitations, and the unprecedented longevity of the AM4 socket, there will inevitably be a time and place where a transition to free up space is necessary—the AMD 500 Series chipsets are that time."

Going forward, AMD will stick with Socket AM4 until technology changes "require adjustments to the pin count or layout of [the] processor package". The first AMD B550 boards will arrive on 16th June, we don't have any such date for A520.

HEXUS Forums :: 110 Comments

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Bit annoying (not for me personally though) but it does sound like the kind of issue that a few pre-500 MBs will be able to handle and a few others can be bodged into working… shame for the majority of boards though.
Biggest news here for me is that Biostar are still producing motherboards. I thought they'd died out.
it is understandable, you can't keep on pouring water into the glass, however some stuff gets outdated and you start a new chain of events with the next generations, if they keep what they been doing now then stuff is going to last for quite a while in general but with leaps… compared to Intel who need a new chipset and motherboard for whatever they make.
I wonder if any manufacturers are brave enough to release a Zen 3 only BIOS

I bet the modders out there will - or remove Zen1 and a few others and keep Zen2 and 3 so you have a choice
And what's to stop AMD letting motherboard manufacturors release 2 bios, one for support of older chips and one for newer chips with both having a “Generic” slot so that you can flash either and have the mobo at least boot as say it need a different bios for the inserted cpu and allow you to flash it?