Motherboard maker ASRock has done what many said it couldn’t, including AMD: it added support for the latest Ryzen processors to its outdated X370 motherboards. The company has enabled this support through a new BIOS that will allow its four-year-old motherboards to run the latest and greatest AMD chips, which is quite an impressive situation for those who have been putting off upgrading to the latest. version of AMD’s AM4 socket motherboards. . It also flies in the face of what AMD has officially declared possible and/or allowed, raising the question of whether other motherboard makers such as Asus and Gigabyte will follow suit, and if they risk the wrath of consumers. ‘AMD if they do.
AMD’s position on this issue may change as the AM4 approaches its end of life; Company spokespersons acknowledged that they investigated X370 support for Ryzen 5000 processors quite recently.
The controversy stems from the fact that AMD announced in 2016 that its AM4 chipset would enjoy a long five-year life cycle, then somewhat reversed that decision two years ago when it realized that this was not feasible for various reasons. AM4 has always had a very long lifespan and continues to thrive even today in 2022, but AMD’s U-turn has caused some anger in the CPU enthusiast community, and that’s what ASRock attempts to rectify with its BIOS update.
According to Tom’s Hardware, ASRock’s first motherboard to get the new BIOS is its X370 Pro, and the update also comes with a warning that its app will remove card support for Bristol Ridge APUs, which were released in 2017. He also advised caution if you are currently using a Pinnacle, Raven, Summit, or Bristol Ridge processor.
As for the cause of the limitations in the number of processors a chipset can support, it seems to come down to storage space. Chips that contain BIOS information do not have enough capacity to continue to allow new lines of code. AM4 has lived so long and supported so many processors that its onboard 16MB SPI ROM containing BIOS data is full. A workaround to this problem is that some BIOS manufacturers have actually removed features from their BIOS to make room for updated CPU compatibility. An example of how this works is to do away with the fancy GUI-based BIOS in favor of a text-based BIOS that requires less code.
News of ASRock’s exit from the reservation follows reports in late 2021 that Asus and Gigabyte had enabled support for Zen 3 processors on entry-level A320 motherboards, which amounts to putting a Ferrari engine in a Toyota Yaris chassis. Along the same lines, people used to retrofit their 300 series motherboards with bootleg BIOSes, which is a bad idea for a number of reasons.
Still, AMD has publicly stated that it’s not totally against the idea of officially allowing 300-series motherboards to run 5000-series processors. In an interview with Tom’s linked above, David McAfee, AMD’s corporate vice president and general manager of the Client Channel business, said it was something they were very aware of, but needed time to figure out how to do it right, if not. at all.
He also said the obvious, taking a brand new $500+ processor and putting it in a five-year-old motherboard isn’t the best combination of parts. McAfee said it like this: “So you’re gonna drop it in there [Ryzen 5950X], and it will not deliver the performance the product is capable of. But by the same token, giving someone the ability to do it, if they want to, is not a question of whether the board is functionally able to do it or not; is it really about getting the maximum performance? At this time, AMD’s official response would be that these 300 series motherboards are not a supported configuration in our tech validation coverage matrix. There are potential issues that could be there that we’re just not aware of at this time. »
This is clearly a complicated situation, and not as easy as AMD just saying “do it”, because companies will still have to validate all these old cards on all new processors that might suddenly be supported . While people were clearly upset by AMD’s reversal of AM4’s lifespan, it doesn’t appear that the company acted in bad faith, and AM4 had an incredibly long lifespan compared to what Intel has been offering for the past five years.