The BIOS Woes of Two AMD Budget Processors

Image by AMD

AMD announced two weeks ago that their forthcoming B550 mainboards will work with the current Ryzen 3000 processors and the future Ryzen 4000 processors, and the Ryzen 4000 processors will work only on the 500-series mainboards.

For users of the Ryzen 3000 processor and/or the X570 mainboard, the future looks bright — if AMD continues the AM4 platform beyond 2020. The existing roadmap started in 2017 and ends this year. AMD haven’t revealed their roadmap for 2021 and beyond.

For users of the Ryzen 1000/2000 processor and/or the 300/400-series mainboard, the future looks dark. Older processor won’t run on the newer mainboards, newer processors won’t run on the older mainboards. Users are crying foul that their recent purchases are now semi-obsolete.

AMD stated that they were breaking platform compatibility because the ROM chip for the BIOS on older mainboards was too small to contain the microcode for multiple generations of processors. Without the microcode in the BIOS, the mainboard won’t recognize the processor to boot the system.

Enthusiasts — a small but very vocal user base — called BS on that specious rationalization. BIOS fragmentation began last year when the Ryzen 3000 BIOS update needed space on the now too small ROM chip. It didn’t help that AMD recommended the 400-series mainboard to users who couldn’t afford the more expensive X570 mainboard, and everyone expected to drop in a Ryzen 4000 processor when they become available later this year.

AMD backed off their initial statement and offered limited BIOS support for the Ryzen 4000 processors on the 400-series mainboard. A default BIOS that supports the existing Ryzen 1000/2000/3000 processors, and an optional “beta” BIOS that supports Ryzen 3000 and beyond (the catch being unable to downgrade the BIOS for an older processor). Not surprisingly, the 300-series mainboard won’t be getting the Ryzen 4000 BIOS update.

For those of us who went through the BIOS woes for the Athlon 200GE and 3000G last year, the Ryzen 4000 processors will probably offer the same pain to an entirely new audience that haven’t dealt with it before.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

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