AMD just provided an update on Zen 3 compatibility for X470/B450 motherboards from its official reddit account. It looks like the company has listened to the community and enable support on the older motherboards for its next-generation Zen 3 based Ryzen 4000 CPU family. They stated that they have reviewed the feedback provided by the AMD community and decided to 'change course'. This is an extremely admirable response from the company as it shows they are open to feedback. It's worth noting that the upgrade process will not be an easy one considering the technical limitation and safety design standards that AMD has to follow.
AMD: We decided to change course [and add support for Zen 3 on X470 and B450 motherboards]
AMD had previously stated that they would support the AM4 socket till 2020 and while the company could theoretically have wiggled out of the promise they have decided to give the community what it wants. AMD's Zen 3 based CPUs, the Vermeer family, is expected to launch this September and will be based on the 7nm Zen 3 architecture. The reason why they hadn't been supported in the first place is because there is only a limited amount of space available on motherboard ROMs for support of CPU microcode.
This space has been pretty much filled and to allow support for Zen 3 based CPUs would mean removing support for older variants. This is a decision that AMD did not want to take as an upgrade like this is usually one-way and will make the motherboard not support the processors it initially shipped for. Interestingly, however, AMD plans to prevent any accidental upgrades and users ending up with a no-boot situation by policing the bios update. My understanding of the statement is that it will only be available to verified users of the Zen 3 processors and CPUs. This likely means that only the first owner will be able to do the upgrade. What this means for the second-hand market is unclear at this point.
The company also recommends that users shift to the 500 series chipset regardless of this easement in limitations and we would too. Considering AMD's long support for the AM4 socket, I am sure that an investment in a 500-series chipset will go a long way. Oh and by the way, support for Zen 2-based Renoir is not entirely confirmed right now as it is based on Zen 2 although I would imagine it would be bundled with Ryzen 4000-series support in the beta bios. Here is AMD's full statement:
AMD's official statement:
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.
In addition to the announcement, MSI retains its position on next-gen Zen support on its X470 & B450 MAX line of motherboards. MSI has previously stated the following for its X470 & B450 MAX motherboards which holds true:
- You just bought an AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation processor and need a value-oriented B450 motherboard that comes with out-of-the-box Ryzen 3000 series support.
- You don't want to deal with BIOS updates and other issues before being able to use the CPU you want.
- You'd prefer having the option of using any AM4 processor that's supported by the B450 chipset without worrying about compatibility.
- You want access to the full-featured MSI UEFI BIOS without compromising support for any AM4 product.
- You want a value-oriented motherboard that’ll support not only the latest AMD releases but will also have you covered for all future AM4 product releases.