AMD Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100 processors became available earlier this month, and the long awaited B550 mainstream chipset was announced at the same time (due to release via motherboard partners from 16th June). With this fork of news came a blog post by AMD Senior Technical Marketing Manager, Robert Hallock. The post resulted in more column inches and comments than the new processors or motherboards could hope for, as people were struck by the confirmation that you will need a 500 series chipset or newer for Zen 3.
It seems that people had got used to the longevity of AM4 and its associated chipsets and felt that B450 and X470 boards were being put out to pasture rather early. As per my intro paragraph, no one can even purchase B550 boards yet - to ensure a cosy upgrade path to a Zen 3 core packing processor - and lots of mainstream buyers will have recently invested in B450 platforms.
Zen 3 support coming to B450 and X470 users
This afternoon AMD is informing enthusiasts that it has had a rethink about enabling Zen 3 compatibility on AMD 400 Series motherboards. It has been picking through tech site comments, social media, and YouTuber hot-takes and decided to do something about the issue. The big news is that it has "decided to change course," and enable an upgrade path for B450 and X470 customers that adds support for next-gen AMD Ryzen Processors with the Zen 3 architecture.
The previous technical blog post about flash BIOS capacity issues still holds true, says AMD, but it will work with motherboard partners, and implement some other measures to make sure Zen 3 gets support on 400 series boards.
Rather than interpret or condense AMD's seven bulletpoint upgrade path plan, it is reproduced verbatim below for your digestion:
- 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.
AMD admits the decision is "very fresh" and that it might have some potential for mix-ups or pitfalls but will try and make sure any necessary updates are smooth, practical, and achieve the desired goal of the user. It will be ironing out wrinkles in the above process as they get spotted in further planning stages or arise.
Is now too early to lobby for Zen 4 support?
When the first BIOSes that can enable Zen 3 processor support on AMD series 400 chipsets become available, AMD will follow up with further technical blog post(s) with more details and walkthroughs of upgrade processes.