Wednesday, June 22nd 2016

AMD "Zen" Processor Integrated Chipset Has USB 3.1 Issues, Could Escalate Costs

With its next-generation processors and APUs based on the "Zen" micro-architecture, AMD is integrating the chipset into the processor/APU die, making motherboards entirely chipset-free. This on-die chipset, however, is rumored to be facing issues with its integrated USB 3.1 controllers, according to industry sources. AMD sourced the design for the integrated USB 3.1 controllers from ASMedia. The company has a tendency of sourcing integrated controller IP from third-party manufacturers (eg: its SATA controllers and port-multipliers in the past have been sourced from Silicon Image).

Motherboard manufacturers are noticing significant drops in USB 3.1 bandwidths with increase in circuit distances (think wiring running from the AM4 socket to USB 3.1 front-panel headers on the bottom-right corner of a motherboard). Board designers are reportedly having to use additional retimer and redriver chips to get acceptable bandwidths over such ports, and in some cases even entire USB 3.1 controllers, eating into the platform's PCIe budget and escalating costs.
AMD stated that the "Zen" processor platform is on-track, and the company will not comment on "customer specific board-level solutions." ASMedia played down the reports as industry rumors, and stated that its solutions passed the necessary certifications. The DigiTimes report adds that "AMD's Zen processors are seeing stable development and have a satisfactory yield rate, and about to enter the engineering sample stage in the near future."Source: DigiTimes
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83 Comments on AMD "Zen" Processor Integrated Chipset Has USB 3.1 Issues, Could Escalate Costs

#1
john_
AMD's Zen processors are seeing stable development and have a satisfactory yield rate, and about to enter the engineering sample stage in the near future. However, motherboard players are seeing the chipsets designed by ASMedia having some issues over USB 3.1.
While all media is making headlines about the USB 3.1, the real story here is the bold one. That's what is important. The USB 3.1 problems are solved with an extra cost of $2-$5, and while this is a huge cost when talking about motherboards, it is nothing marketing or design teams can't fix. On a low end motherboard they will put the USB ports close to the socket. In all other motherboards they will choose between using those extra chips or add one more USB 3.1 controller and advertise more USB 3.1. ports.
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#2
ZoneDymo
hmm if true thats not good, I mean if it was something like a firewire port that few actually use, but usb...everything (unfortunately) uses usb.

Still though, would a little pci-e usb card (which are cheap) not be a relatively simple solution?
Or am I missing something here?

It makes me think of a few of those Asus motherboards that did away with build in audio in favor of an included dedicated soundcard from Creative:

http://www.pcstats.com/articleimages/200801/asusblitzextreme_spcp.jpg

Cant they do something like that but with usb? or again, am I missing something?
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#3
GreiverBlade
ZoneDymo said:
hmm if true thats not good, I mean if it was something like a firewire port that few actually use, but usb...everything (unfortunately) uses usb.

Still though, would a little pci-e usb card (which are cheap) not be a relatively simple solution?
Or am I missing something here?

It makes me think of a few of those Asus motherboards that did away with build in audio in favor of an included dedicated soundcard from Creative:

http://www.pcstats.com/articleimages/200801/asusblitzextreme_spcp.jpg

Cant they do something like that but with usb? or again, am I missing something?
if it was something like a Firewire indeed ... or a USB 3.1 ... as long as the USB 2.0 and 3.0 works fine the 3.1 can be a little buggy, right?

i have 1 3.1 on my mobo and i, almost, never used it since i bought it (most my USB devices are 3.0 for storage or 2.0 for mouse keyboard)

also i doubt the issue would be critical for anything else than a storage solution using 3.1

edit: well the 3.1 of my mobo is a bit buggy actually ... it recognize at random my 3.0 thumbstick or my HDD enclosure and sometime, disconnect which never happen on the 3.0 (luckily since that board has 4 3.0(6 with front) and 2 2.0) so it's not only AMD it seems :oops: (joking ... it's not a story of performances loss ... that i would not notice since i have no 3.1 devices )
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#4
cryohellinc
In all honesty, I sincerely doubt the difference in speed would be that substantial 1-5 second range I would assume if we are talking about the transfer speed. Usually that is minor. And most likely no delay at all in terms of playback / device usage.

Besides its AMD, what else did you expect.
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#5
Ferrum Master
I will also share skepticism about his... Not really a serious issue...
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#6
Melvis
who uses or has any devices that run on USB 3.1 anyway? It wont be main stream for a good yr or two so this isnt much of a big deal honestly
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#7
Ferrum Master
Melvis said:
who uses or has any devices that run on USB 3.1 anyway? It wont be main stream for a good yr or two so this isnt much of a big deal honestly
It is actually needed for proper charging the upcoming devices. Samsung with the next galaxy device, LG and HTC already have jumped on it. Without the certificate it won't start proper charging rates. On the other hand it means that still additional circuitry is needed and will be present on the board... the current dumpers... if you locate them not just behind the ports with a repeater but a bit farther the problem will be solved anyways...
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#8
Ubersonic
Meh, sounds like a manufacturer's issue, don't put the USB3 header on the opposite end of the mobo from the socket and all will be good. High end ASUS boards normally have it near the CPU/RAM anyway.
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#9
RejZoR
Melvis said:
who uses or has any devices that run on USB 3.1 anyway? It wont be main stream for a good yr or two so this isnt much of a big deal honestly
A year or two? You're very optimistic here. I mean, USB 3.0 has been around for ages and largest bulk of USB drives sold are USB 2.0. Very few people actually talk about and want USB 3.0 devices.
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#10
bug
Even if it's all peachy, this means with AMD you get zero choice about your "chipset's" capabilities. Then again, stuff has been moving onto the CPU die for years, so this is not entirely unexpected.
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#11
ZoneDymo
bug said:
Even if it's all peachy, this means with AMD you get zero choice about your "chipset's" capabilities. Then again, stuff has been moving onto the CPU die for years, so this is not entirely unexpected.
what chipset capabilities are you thinking of?
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#12
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
Ferrum Master said:
It is actually needed for proper charging the upcoming devices. Samsung with the next galaxy device, LG and HTC already have jumped on it. Without the certificate it won't start proper charging rates. On the other hand it means that still additional circuitry is needed and will be present on the board... the current dumpers... if you locate them not just behind the ports with a repeater but a bit farther the problem will be solved anyways...
Aye this. It's not as much the increased bandwidth and power as it's the Type C port, which is what Apple jumped on and therefore everyone else will.
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#13
xenocide
RejZoR said:
A year or two? You're very optimistic here. I mean, USB 3.0 has been around for ages and largest bulk of USB drives sold are USB 2.0. Very few people actually talk about and want USB 3.0 devices.
The external I bought like 5 years ago is USB 3.0, so I find it hard to believe most drives sold aren't 3.0 or 3.1 at this point.
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#14
RejZoR
USB thumb drives mostly. People just want them cheap even if they are slow as a stabbing death with a tea spoon. And that means mass produced USB 2.0...
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#15
bug
ZoneDymo said:
what chipset capabilities are you thinking of?
Business oriented chipsets tend to offer additional management capabilities, gaming/enthusiast chipsets come with additional PCIe lanes. All the options will be gone.
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#16
rpsgc
Mindlessly regurgitating FUD from a biased source with no proof whatsoever? Really TPU? Never thought I'd see you stoop so low.


FYI, this is not an AMD "issue", it's an USB "issue", but why let the truth get in the way of a good AMD bashing, eh?
ASMedia clarified that this is purely a market rumor and its product's signal, stability and compatibility have all passed certification.
At the end they even admit that it's a rumor...
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#17
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Melvis said:
who uses or has any devices that run on USB 3.1 anyway?
AMD's own XConnect external graphics card standard.

I'm sure this isn't just about desktops. The silicon is usually common between desktops and notebooks (in different packages).

Imagine you have a Zen-powered notebook and your external graphics box isn't even getting 10 Gbps.

rpsgc said:
FYI, this is not an AMD "issue", it's an USB "issue", but why let the truth get in the way of a good AMD bashing, eh?
Because that USB controller is on an AMD chip. Physically on the AMD chip. On the AMD processor die. It's part of the AMD on-die southbridge. AMD drivers will likely enable it as an open xHCI controller, without any ASMedia branding, just as AMD SATA controllers don't come with Silicon Image branding.

rpsgc said:
Never thought I'd see you stoop so low.
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#18
TheLostSwede
Anyone remember this?
https://www.techpowerup.com/223163/amd-socket-am4-platform-demo-motherboard-pictured

Maybe it's not integrated at all, maybe it's that shiny metal AMD branded chip by the rear ports that houses the USB 3.1 controller?

Even if this issue is real, the problem isn't what's being discussed here.

USB 3.1 isn't broken and a good board layout, potentially with some additional components (which by the way is often used on poor USB 3.0 designs) will solve the rumored problem.

Also, a third party USB 3.1 host controller would circumvent this problem altogether, as it would work the same as it does in current Intel boards...
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#19
Basard
ZoneDymo said:

It makes me think of a few of those Asus motherboards that did away with build in audio in favor of an included dedicated soundcard from Creative:

http://www.pcstats.com/articleimages/200801/asusblitzextreme_spcp.jpg

Cant they do something like that but with usb? or again, am I missing something?
Well it would defeat the whole purpose of moving the chips from the cards to the motherboard and then to the CPU. You can already buy USB add-in-cards for your old chips. The whole point is to get rid of the need for them.

However.... What a big LOL-fuckup for AMD. Brand new chip and they cant even get the USB to work right? Paying some contractors for a design and just smacking it into their chip?! Wtf, why not just make your own and keep the profits. Lazy employees or what? I thought Jim Keller was some kinda god?! Why didn't he forsee this?

lol...
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#20
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
xenocide said:
The external I bought like 5 years ago is USB 3.0, so I find it hard to believe most drives sold aren't 3.0 or 3.1 at this point.
For one thing I'll bet that thing cost a whole lot more than a USB 2.0 drive, and as rejzor says, people just get whatever's cheap. And plenty of stores still has what feels like millions of the damn things, and they even make new ones. Not to mention lots and lots of people still have computers without USB 3.0 and it is actually quite simple to buy a small laptop that doesn't have USB 3.0.
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#21
bug
Frick said:
For one thing I'll bet that thing cost a whole lot more than a USB 2.0 drive, and as rejzor says, people just get whatever's cheap. And plenty of stores still has what feels like millions of the damn things, and they even make new ones. Not to mention lots and lots of people still have computers without USB 3.0 and it is actually quite simple to buy a small laptop that doesn't have USB 3.0.
It may be simple to buy a laptop without USB 3.1, because Intel's chipsets don't have native support yet. But without USB 3.0? That's baked into the chipset and practically free to implement.
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#22
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
bug said:
It may be simple to buy a laptop without USB 3.1, because Intel's chipsets don't have native support yet. But without USB 3.0? That's baked into the chipset and practically free to implement.
At this moment there are several 11 inchers for sale without USB 3.0. Chromebooks and netbooks from 2015. Low specced laptops from 2014 still in stock. And what do people buy? Cheap computers, expensive phones and tablets.
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#23
Octavean
This sounds like a fairly minor issue if that.
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#24
PP Mguire
Lets not forget that 3.0 was jumbled into 3.1 as Gen 1, and 10Gb/s is 3.1 Gen 2. None of the stories ever specify so we could be talking both Gen 1 and Gen 2 here. That's a problem, but not worth a story IMO as it can be easily fixed behind closed doors by the board manufacturers.
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#25
Hood
john_ said:
While all media is making headlines about the USB 3.1, the real story here is the bold one. That's what is important. The USB 3.1 problems are solved with an extra cost of $2-$5, and while this is a huge cost when talking about motherboards, it is nothing marketing or design teams can't fix. On a low end motherboard they will put the USB ports close to the socket. In all other motherboards they will choose between using those extra chips or add one more USB 3.1 controller and advertise more USB 3.1. ports.
If Zen actually turns out to be competitive with Intel's offerings, the last thing AMD needs is USB 3.1 problems - port speeds have long been sub-par on AMD's chipsets, Zen is their chance to achieve parity on this front, with robust support for USB 3.0 & 3.1, PCIe 3.0, NVMe, M.2, U.2, DDR4, and Thunderbolt 3. Also they should dump support for legacy ports, as Intel has - concentrate on moving forward instead of trying so hard to be "the poor man's option" - people who want those old ports can always buy sub-$50 boards that still have USB 2.0, PCIe 2.0, DDR3, Firewire, serial, parallel, eSATA, PCI, IDE, and probably floppy disk for all I know, as add-on chips. Give the other people (who aren't stuck in the '90s) a way to enjoy modern connectivity, without automatically having to choose Intel. AMD has never even been an option for me, mostly because of their lack of support for the latest port speeds (power-hungry, hot-running, and slow also lacks appeal). So get it right, AMD, or continue to be the "poor man's option", with a rapidly dwindling customer base. Zen might be your last chance to avoid bankruptcy...
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