AMD crowbars Zen 3/Ryzen 4000 compatibility into B450 and X470 mobos after criticism?

AMD backpedal quickly enough to travel back in time

AMD has been seemingly able to do very little wrong in recent years as their Ryzen CPUs continued to be lauded more with each release.

However, it doesn’t take long for the whole of the internet to turn against you. One wrong turn, and they will have you by the throat as AMD found out over the last week or so.

Having announced, much to the derision of hardcore fans and casual PC users that Zen 3 and Ryzen 4000 compatibility would not be a thing for current B450 and X470 mobos the chip giant has now reversed that initial bad call and announced that it will crowbar some level of support in after all.

To do this, AMD will supply AGESA code to mobo vendors should they choose to patch it in.

In a lengthy Reddit post the official AMD account posted:

  • 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.

 

If you read through those points, you may still have walked away confused. Are they supported or not? It’s certainly safe to assume that the about-turn may have led to several fractious conversations with engineers in recent nights.

In a much longer press release, an AMD spokesperson said: “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.”

However, in another bullet point list, they were also keen to point out.

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

There is also the point that the bios flash is very much one way. You can flash to enable the upgrade, but at that point, you will not be flashing back. What this actually will mean in the end at this stage is anybody’s guess until we start to see the code actually out in the wild.

It seems we have ridden into caveat city here but fair play to AMD for actually listening to their consumer base, even though it is clearly going to case potentially a massive headache.

They have at least also made it clear that this is the series of CPUs they will be able to do this for and that at some point in the near future, you will need a new motherboard for CPU releases beyond Zen 3.

Will this be enough for the internet to take their foot off AMD’s neck. For now, perhaps, time will tell whether this will turn out to be a storm that would have been best ridden through, but kudos to AMD for at least listening and acting.

 

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Been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. Spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written tech content for GamePro, Official Australian Playstation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Twitter: @iampaulmcnally

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