Review Index:

AMD Details AM4 Chipsets and Upcoming Motherboards

Author: Josh Walrath
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: AMD

Ryzen and AM4 Continued

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.  Above that it features an I/O stack that can be configured in multiple ways.  It supports 2 SATA6G ports that can be mixed and matched with PCI-E lanes supporting NVME.  In what is probably going to be the most popular implementation on X370 boards will be the single x4 NVME connection that will provide tremendous I/O bandwidth directly to the CPU.  It also features the four native USB 3.1 gen 1 ports.

When we look at the upcoming chipsets we must remember that the specifications include those of the SoC being utilized with the board.

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What pops out to me here is that AMD is still supporting SATA Express.  It can support up to two of these implementations (each of which is comprised of two SATA6G ports and two lanes of PCI-E 3.0).  We may see a handful of boards with this implemented, but considering how nonexistent SATA Express drives are this will not be a popular or much used option.

The setup that AMD is giving to its partners is extremely flexible in how it can be implemented.  We will see a variety of boards sporting differing features that will hopefully fit the needs of a wide swath of consumers.  AMD has finally caught up with Intel in base features and they will leverage other 3rd party chips again to differentiate again the loadouts of boards from their partners.

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We do not yet know the performance of these chipsets as compared to what Intel offers.  AMD had a very competitive SATA6G implementation with the SB850/950 chips that gave them a feature advantage over Intel at the time.  By the time Intel came out with similar numbers of parts we saw that Intel was only about 5% faster overall in performance from AMD.  This was a far cry from the previous SATA3G implementations from AMD that were severely lacking in performance and also had some real compatibility and driver issues.  Hopefully this chipset continues to provide good overall performance with SATA, NVME, and USB 3.1.

If there is one slightly disappointing thing with this release it is that the physical implementation of the AM4 socket is not compatible with previous AM3+ and FM2+ coolers.  New coolers and brackets will be required to fit the new dimensions of the AM4 socket infrastructure.  Some things like All-in-One liquid cooling kits will just require a new bracket while the Wraith coolers from AMD will have to be redesigned to fit.  This should not be a significant problem for AMD as these changes can be done quickly with many products that do not have a set mounting mechanism.  Popular parts like the CoolerMaster 212 EVO will just need a new bracket to fit in with AM4.

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It has been a long time since there was some real excitement around AMD’s CPUs from the enthusiast crowd.  AMD looks to be providing a strong competitor with Ryzen and they are backing it up with a modern motherboard chipset implementation.  It will be feature comparable to what Intel has in the market now and could provide a few more tricks with some clever engineering.

AMD expects AM4 motherboards and their Ryzen CPU to ship in Q1 of this year.

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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