Review Index:

AMD Details AM4 Chipsets and Upcoming Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: AMD

AM4 Edging Closer to Retail

Many of us were thinking that one of the bigger stories around CES would be the unveiling of a goodly chunk of AM4 motherboards.  AM4 has been around for about half a year now, but only in system integrator builds (such as HP).  These have all been based around Bristol Ridge APU (essentially an updated Carrizo APU).  These SOCs are not exactly barn burners, but they provide a solid foundation for a low-cost build.  The APUs features 2 modules/4 cores, a GCN based GPU, and limited southbridge I/O functionality.

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During all this time the motherboards available from these OEMs are very basic units not fit for retail.  Users simply could not go out and buy a Bristol Ridge APU and motherboard for themselves off of Newegg, Amazon, and elsewhere.  Now after much speculation we finally got to see the first AM4 retail style boards unveiled at this year’s CES.  AMD showed off around 16 boards based on previously unseen B350 and X370 chipsets.

AMD has had a pretty limited number of chipsets that they have introduced over the years.  Their FM2+ offerings spanned the A series of chipsets, but they added very little in terms of functionality as compared to the 900 series that populate the AM3+ world.  The latest offering from AMD was the A88x which was released in September 2013.  At one time there was supposed to be a 1000 series of chipsets for AM3+, but those were cancelled and we have had the 900 series (which are identical to the previous 800 series) since 2011.  This has been a pretty stagnant area for AMD and their partners.  3rd party chips have helped shore up the feature divide between AMD and Intel’s regular release of new chipsets and technologies attached to them.

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There are three primary chipsets being released as well as two physical layer chips that allow the use of the onboard southbridge on Ryzen and Bristol Ridge.  The X370 for the enthusiast market, the B350 for the mainstream, and then the budget A320.  The two chipset options for utilizing the SOC’s southbridge functionality are the X300 and A/B300.

Before we jump into the chipsets we should take a look at what kind of functionality Ryzen and Bristol Ridge have that can be leveraged by motherboard manufacturers.  Bristol Ridge is a true SOC in that it contains the GPU, CPU, and southbridge functionality to stand alone.  Ryzen is different in that it does not have the GPU portion so it still requires a standalone graphics card to work.  Bristol Ridge is based off of the older Carrizo design and does not feature the flexibility in its I/O connections that Ryzen does.

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Bristol Ridge features up to 8 lanes of PCI-E 3.0.  The I/O on it includes 2 native SATA6G ports as well as the ability to either utilize two more PCI-e lanes or have them as x2 NVME.  That is about as flexible as it gets.  It also natively supports four USB 3.1 gen 1 ports.  For a chip that was designed to be a mobile focused SoC it makes sense that it will not max out PCI-E lanes or SATA ports.  It still is enough to satisfy most mobile and SFF builds.

Click here to read more about AMD's AM4 platform!

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January 7, 2017 | 06:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Sweet, looking forward to upgrading my 4790k to the 6/12 variant of this cpu.

January 8, 2017 | 01:40 AM - Posted by Josh Walrus (not verified)

I am too! eBay that old Devil for a few Benjamins. I saw the leak online today that future AMD code-names will follow a pattern of alternating first letters after Ryzen. For example, in the year 2020, the next chips will be called Tyzen, like the frozen chicken. Then in the late Q2 2026 AMD will release their third iteration of the Zen-based silicon (while Intel has moved on to different semiconductor materials) called Vyzen, like the eye drops. This was from a slide shown for only a few hours on The Inquirer before it was taken down.

January 8, 2017 | 07:34 AM - Posted by Noel Rebetzke (not verified)

Same here >w< Dam, it feels as if most 4790K user is aiming to upgrade to Ryzen >w<. Even I was aiming the 6/12 core CPU one as well :P. I love it back in the old days where AMD was a dominating Gaming CPU where I had one myself back then.

Hopefully its prolly gonna be one of those moments again, just like those times.

January 7, 2017 | 07:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

been waiting for this for a while, my 1055t is looking to retire soon

January 7, 2017 | 08:21 PM - Posted by HERETIC (not verified)

Disappointed your-
"PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA"
taken OFF all AMD articles.......................

January 7, 2017 | 09:39 PM - Posted by nvidiaperspective (not verified)

i expect nothing less

January 8, 2017 | 11:29 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Actually, if you just pay a bit more attention, you'll see that the NVIDIA sponsorship of CES was not inserted on any of the primary article that launched during CES.

It doesn't fit the formating of "articles" vs "news" and it wasn't included to NVIDIA as part of the sponsorship.

Also, even if it were the case, how would not putting the NVIDIA ad on the stories from its primary competitor in anyway make us biased towards NVIDIA?

January 8, 2017 | 12:15 PM - Posted by Mageoftheyear (not verified)

Ooh... I was wondering why the banner was missing from some pages. LOL, not sure how that's dodgy in any case but taking no sponsorship for those articles was a legit move.

Btw, just wanted to chime in and say I appreciate how your podcast sponsors (e.g. Casper, Harry's) aren't related to the focus of this site. Thumbs up and thanks to all of you for the great CES coverage.

Hopefully we'll get some FreeSync 2 HDR monitors next year.

January 11, 2017 | 01:05 PM - Posted by Rroce (not verified)

Cunningham's Law

January 7, 2017 | 08:54 PM - Posted by Corrigan (not verified)

I just want AMD to give pricing details on these CPUs and mobos. I'm willing to jump from an i5-3570K to a Ryzen CPU if the price is right, but given how popular these might be, I want them to release ASAP, so there's even a slight chance of me being able to upgrade my system before the end of March.

January 7, 2017 | 09:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

pretty sure it will come out before end of march. Early march at the latest. mid feb to early march

January 9, 2017 | 01:08 PM - Posted by theBrayn

I believe the op was implying they wanted stock to be readily available in stores by end of March. These will likely be hard to find at release (provided they live up to expectation).

January 7, 2017 | 10:51 PM - Posted by Mayumi-J (not verified)

Been waiting since dec. :) very excited, Nasira na si motherboard ko, Maybe the ram, maybe the slot...

I ve been dreaming of this, that someday, AMD, will take a leap.

January 7, 2017 | 11:00 PM - Posted by mAxius

YAY A JOSHTEK ARTICLE! A great read as always! I cant wait till i can toss my nvme ssd in on my future ryzen build!

January 7, 2017 | 11:10 PM - Posted by John H (not verified)

Hmm the chip set being limited to PCI express 2.0 lanes seems a little disappointing for workstation use (10g ethernet for example) but atleast you should be able to have a fast nvme SSD attached to the CPU.

January 8, 2017 | 01:03 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

didnt say limited to pci-e 2.0 speeds it said the amount of "lanes" not the "speed"
read a bit more before saying such, or you are convincing yourself and possibly others of fallacy.

Also just because it is "base" spec, there is nothing stopping partners from adding other implementations such as PLX chips and the like for more gpu usage and the like.

if it is "limited" maximum PLX or not to say 24 lanes that might be an issue, but what if it is 24 or even 32 lanes that can ALL be at 3.0 speeds?

Maybe they mean it is X at 2.0 speeds but the rest are implicited for those who know WILL BE at 3.0 speeds(from previous "leaks") cause 1 at x16 link speed or 2 at x8 speed over 3.0 is faster then 2.0 at full x16, could very well be the x16 lanes are "dedicated" not counting towards the remaining 24 lanes used for everything else provided by the base "chipset"

What bothers me is the "limited" to dual channel ddr4 over 4 sockets, when DDR4 is "supposed" to be 1 channel per dimm unlike other DDR versions...maybe the highest end is able to use as quad channel, am sure AMD is keeping a great deal underwraps, possibly even already spec out for future release.

The Hypertransport bus alone can run at x32 bidirectional but they have never implemented this for consumer version, maybe they will be doing so this time...If they are "smart" which I can assure you they are, they are holding their aces up their sleeves.

Also keep in mind, very very very few things NEED pci-e 3.0 at full speed, period, most of it is marketing fluff, maybe the sole exception is for SSD running say 5000mb/s level speed which is far far from "consumer level" pricing at this point, so very few have need of this and would be wasteful design unless on the ultra premium end to even bother designing and increasing the cost for everyone to just have it there for the few that do need it.

Just in the HT bus itself, at x32 link speed, there is so much untapped potential.

Anyways, that is all I am saying, we do not 100% know of much but what they have said already, and they have NOT stated much especially for the workstation side who by and large do not "require" ludicrous speeds for pci-e NVME etc, they are a very specific market and required very specific things mostly stability then anything else, and bleeding edge anything especially at this level is extremely costly :)

January 8, 2017 | 01:43 AM - Posted by Anon (not verified)

There will be no quad channel for Desktop Zen boards...maybe for servers

January 8, 2017 | 12:47 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

> very very very few things NEED pci-e 3.0 at full speed

I beg to differ:

Intel's DMI 3.0 link is x4 lanes @ 8 GHz / 8.125 bits per byte = 3.94 MB/second MAX HEADROOM (not including any controller overheads).

That's the exact same upstream bandwidth as a single NVMe M.2 SSD.

Compare the specs for an NVMe RAID controller with x16 edge connector and PCIe 3.0 speed:

x16 lanes @ 8 GHz / 8.125 = 15,753.6 MB/second
(i.e. exactly FOUR TIMES the DMI 3.0 bandwidth)

Look around and confirm that 2 x Samsung 960 Pro in RAID-0 are already hitting the ceiling imposed by the DMI 3.0 link.
Allyn has also mentioned this limit in one of his podcasts with Ryan.

Some of us are trying hard to push the storage envelope,
and the DMI 3.0 link is clearly the next major bottleneck.

The obvious solution at present is an NVMe RAID controller with x16 edge connector and PCIe 3.0 speeds, which should double with PCIe 4.0's 16GHz clock.

Also, note the engineering "elegance" that obtains from:

4 @ x4 = x16

Such an NVMe RAID controller should also inter-operate with PCIe 3.0 chipsets that still use the DMI 2.0 link.

One of the major design objectives of PCI-Express has always been expansion expansion expansion.

January 8, 2017 | 01:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Seems like quite the step backwards from the previous parts, especially for such a supposedly high-end CPU: Zen only offers 20 PCIe lanes and 2 SATA ports, while my 990FX/Phenom II has 42 lanes and 8 SATA ports.

I had hoped Summit Ridge would be more or less like Intel's HEDT parts, but it seems like this is just a low end platform with some extra cores.

January 8, 2017 | 10:32 AM - Posted by ET3D (not verified)

Far as I understand, features are the sum of CPU + Chipset, so Ryzen + X370 will have 6 SATA + 2 SATAe + NVMe, which isn't bad. There's also nothing preventing MB makers from adding more features (such as extra ports), the way they've always done (some 990FX MB's have USB 3.1 and NVMe, for example).

The PCIe lanes are somewhat disappointing, I agree, although in theory 16 PCIe 3 lanes should be equivalent to 32 PCIe 2 lanes, so it's not that bad. MB makers could add more in theory, but probably won't do it. I assume that this is a response to market demand.

January 8, 2017 | 11:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

There are 20 PCI-E Gen 3 lanes from Ryzen, 16 for the GPU and 4 for the NVMe. That is a definite step up from the Z170/270 where NVMe bandwidth must fight over the same 4 lanes of DMI 3 as the rest of the non-GPU connectivity. Add a X370 and you have 32 PCI-E lanes total, 24 PCI-E Gen 3 (16 from Ryzen for GPU, 4 from Ryzen for NVMe, 2 from X370 for SATA Express) and 8 PCI-E Gen 2.

I haven't been able to find how the X370 connects to Ryzen, but I do know Ryzen supports Hypertransport so that would be the logical conclusion. On AM3+ all connectivity connects to the processor via a 16 bit, 10.4GB/s hypertransport bus, Ryzen/AM4 would be a significant improvement to that (possibly same bandwidth but spread over less connectivity = higher achievable bandwidth for USB3 for example).

January 9, 2017 | 08:16 AM - Posted by Jann5s

I'm not sure if you are correct. To quote Josh:

"Ryzen is a slightly different beast when it comes to its I/O functionality. It features a full x16 PCI-E implementation that can be split into 2 x8 for SLI and CrossFire. There are four more PCI-E lanes that connect this CPU to the chipset. "

So all PCIe lanes you create via the chipset will have to go over these 4 lanes and may hit some congestion, like on the Z270 setups.

Sorry, I had it wrong. Ryzen offers 24 lanes of PCIe. There are an extra 4 more lanes coming from the CPU for storage, either for multiple SATA, or for a single 4x NVMe.

It does answer your question about how the chipset is connected to the CPU.

January 21, 2017 | 10:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The CPU might be connected to the chipset, but that doesn't necessarily mean there is a bottleneck equivalent to 4xPCIe lanes.

The CPU can send the chipset commands for example and have it initiate a COPY from one SSD to another SSD. The information doesn't flow through the CPU but rather the chipset, so the CPU would only need enough bandwidth to keep things sorted.

I don't know the EXACT layout, but I do know it won't be as you describe so there's no worries about bandwidth. A good chipset and the required ports etc will be all you need and the CPU won't be an issue.

January 21, 2017 | 11:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

not sure who I just directed the above comment. probably the wrong person.

January 8, 2017 | 08:30 AM - Posted by Sabbilon (not verified)

". . . . . while the Wraith coolers from AMD will have to be redesigned to fit. "

This seems wrong to me as we have seen the wraith cooler on the Bristol Ridge /AM4 platform. It seems that the cooler mounting bars have been redesigned to match the old "tab" position. The through holes seem to has changed (see ekwb for am4)

There actually seems to be two new types of mounting bars. Maybe one will allow for a smaller cooler footprint.

January 8, 2017 | 11:17 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i cant believe anything that people are saying about AMD's Ryzen CPU's + AMD's X300 (Lowest-end), or X370 (Highest End) AMD Chip-sets, the X300 & the X370 are two, of the currently known, High-End AMD Ryzen AM4 Chip-sets...

(Im Not referring to the A320 or B350 AMD Low-End to Mid-Range AMD Chip-Sets's)

The AMD Ryzen AM4 Socket X300 chip-set Will be... 1 @ x16 dual x16 or x16,x8,x8. as most current AMD systems do already.. and iv had an FM2+ that had dual X16 PCI-e 3.0 at Dual X16,X16 Gen 3.0...???

(X300 Rumored to be Entry-Level High-End x300 series chipsets) and the X370 chip-set based AM4 Ryzen Mainboards is what im gunning for upon release along with 2400MHz Dual-Channel DDR4
*(*maybe 3200 DDR4 for Future Zen+ aka AM4+ Mainboards a few years from now. not sure)
so X370 Mainboards, and an AMD AM4 AMD Ryzen FX 8870 Series Eight-Core Processor ( with Eight-Zen Cores and 16 Threads) CPU.. im going for the best.... of RYZEN BABY.... hopefully ..

16 GB ddr4 2400-3400MHz Dual channel (8GB X 2 = 16GB) ddr4 kit +
X370 AM4 Mainboard +
AMD RyZen 8C/16T Zen AM4 CPU for Gaming/Benchmarking..

for no more than $1200 to $1500 MAX,
then eventually a AMD Radeon RX-XXX Vega with 8GB-32GB of HBM2 ram Graphics Card..

January 8, 2017 | 04:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It will be a H-U-G-E success for AMD to re-become America's leader in technology. Also, a 4C/8T SFF AMD system with American made memory would look very nice on my desk.

January 9, 2017 | 11:19 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hey I spot an error. So what does it support for USB connectivity?

"It also features the four native USB 3.1 gen 1 ports."

Then in the image it shows USB 3.1 gen 2.

January 10, 2017 | 01:55 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Depends on what chipset is used.  If on x370 it supports 2 x 3.1G2 and 6 x 3.1 G1.  Partners will support fewer G1 on the lower chipsets, though the CPU itself natively supports 4 x 3.1G1.

January 10, 2017 | 08:13 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Oh, okay. I didn't count on being them supporting 2 versions of 3.1. So if it can support 6 X 3.1gen1 then does the chipset support the other 2 since nativity the cpu supports only 4?

January 11, 2017 | 09:25 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Sure looks to be the case.  Will be nice to get a more accurate run down before launch though.

January 11, 2017 | 03:45 PM - Posted by Mutation666 (not verified)

Was hoping for more lanes, considering I already use 16x for gpu 4x for NVME and 4x for 10gbe NIC. This is not looking good for future expansion of more NVME drives. Really let down to be honest. Unless 10gbe is on the board I don't think this will work for me. (Currently Rocking 5820k in my main build)

January 21, 2017 | 11:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The motherboard CHIPSET provides the rest of the communication. You can also buy 10Gb PCIe cards either now or in the near future.

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