Monday, June 18th 2018

AMD Motherboard Vendors Are Removing Support for Older CPU Models

Current AMD AM4 motherboards basically support four platforms at the moment: the new Ryzen 2000 processors, Ryzen 2000 G APUs with integrated graphics, 1st generation Ryzen and Bristol Ridge. Bristol Ridge was AMD's last processor generation before Ryzen was released. Bristol Ridge introduced Socket AM4, which according to AMD has a lifespan beyond 2020. According to Anandtech, several motherboard manufacturers are now reporting that they might drop support for Bristol Ridge in their future motherboard releases. The underlying reason is that in addition to the setup interface, and UEFI with its driver and network stack, the BIOS has to support all processors by including microcode for them.

Supporting so many CPU models bloats the size of the BIOS beyond 128 megabits (16 MB), which would exceed the capacity of the BIOS flash chips used by most vendors and force them to use higher capacity models, ie 256 megabits. As always in this industry, the issue here comes down to pricing.
A 128 Mb flash chip costs less than half as much as a 256 Mb chip - a cost that motherboard vendors seem reluctant to cover, especially considering the limited commercial success of Bristol Ridge. We're talking about $3-4 price differences here, which sounds like nothing at first, but will add up with millions of motherboards shipped. Also these few dollars could make you lose a price advantage over a competitor.

There is no question that the vast majority of processors used on AM4 motherboards will be Ryzen; the only mention of Bristol Ridge that I've seen in recent times is, ironically, that the processor that AMD ships to users to upgrade their BIOS for Ryzen support is Bristol Ridge, as that's the cheapest way to get an AM4 system up and running. So the reality is that Bristol Ridge support will be irrelevant for 99% of future AM4 motherboards.

Instead of dropping Bristol support, motherboard vendors could release special BIOS versions that support only Bristol Ridge, but not Ryzen, and vice versa. This seems highly unlikely as it would significantly increase complexity for qualification and maintenance of the BIOS and the chances of people flashing the wrong BIOS version would be high, too. Maybe we could see a reduction in the BIOS fanciness that we saw with the introduction of UEFI. Do we really need all the bells and whistles that modern UEFI-style BIOSes offer? Last but not least, two BIOS chips could be used in a RAID-0-like striping configuration, combining their capacity. Such an approach probably wouldn't be much cheaper and the added design complexity and PCB space usage would offset all cost savings.
Source: Anandtech
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30 Comments on AMD Motherboard Vendors Are Removing Support for Older CPU Models

#1
dj-electric
Dropping Bristol Ridge is within rules of fair support IMO.
AMD has never committed for those and as long as Ryzen gen 1 remains upgrade-able to gens 2-4 we're golden.
Do what you have in order to supply better support for relevant hardware
Posted on Reply
#2
C.Mateos
'A 128 Mb flash chip costs less than half as much as a 256 Gb chip'

Well yea, that is probably true although it also cost less than half as much as a 1Tb chip :)

edit: I know it's a typo btw
Posted on Reply
#3
ssdpro
Good Move. No need to maintain support for older crap stuff. AMD stock is booming right now; first time it has been back above the pre-ryzen launch price. As things improve more rigid policies will need to be implemented to lock things down. As strength grows the clamps can and will tighten.
Posted on Reply
#4
W1zzard
C.Mateos said:
'A 128 Mb flash chip costs less than half as much as a 256 Gb chip'

Well yea, that is probably true although it also cost less than half as much as a 1Tb chip :)

edit: I know it's a typo btw
Whoops, fixed
Posted on Reply
#5
windwhirl
Should I expect someone whining about how AMD broke some promise because of this?

On the other hand, instead of so much fancy crap, we could do just fine with a classic interface. It's not like we work all day in UEFI
Posted on Reply
#6
TheinsanegamerN
The responses here are....interesting.

When intel launches a new chipset for a single generation, everyone talks about how horrible it is, and how intel needs to support their hardware better, but then AMD drops support for a CPU generation and suddenly everything is hunky dory?

After all, if current motherboards cant support both raven ridge and bristol ridge along with zen, what happens in a year when raven ridge + and zen 2 come out, and zen 1 and raven ridge are dropped for the same reason? Are people going to go on about how removing CPU support is a good thing now?

windwhirl said:
Should I expect someone whining about how AMD broke some promise because of this?

On the other hand, instead of so much fancy crap, we could do just fine with a classic interface. It's not like we work all day in UEFI
The "promise" here is AMD supporting their platform, removing CPU support fragments a platform, which people give intel an endless amount of shit for. It's only fair that AMD will get slagged for it as well.
Posted on Reply
#7
ironwolf
Before the 2200G came out I built up a few Bristol Ridge systems, one dual core and one quad core. They were fine for what the customer needed them for. Now that the 2200G is out, pretty much all the Bristol Ridge APUs are obsolete, unless someone was really really really cutting down on $$$ and dropping the dual core APU in a box. So I don't see any huge deal in dropping support for them later on down the line. AMD isn't coming out with any new model # Bristol Ridge APUs are they?
Posted on Reply
#8
C.Mateos
Am i missing something here? How is this even remotely the same? AMD isn't dropping support, it's motherboard manufacturers that drop support to make their boards cheap enough. Intel changes sockets,sometimes for no apparent reason and that's why people give them shit.
Posted on Reply
#9
windwhirl
TheinsanegamerN said:
The responses here are....interesting.

When intel launches a new chipset for a single generation, everyone talks about how horrible it is, and how intel needs to support their hardware better, but then AMD drops support for a CPU generation and suddenly everything is hunky dory?

After all, if current motherboards cant support both raven ridge and bristol ridge along with zen, what happens in a year when raven ridge + and zen 2 come out, and zen 1 and raven ridge are dropped for the same reason? Are people going to go on about how removing CPU support is a good thing now?


The "promise" here is AMD supporting their platform, removing CPU support fragments a platform, which people give intel an endless amount of shit for. It's only fair that AMD will get slagged for it as well.
Motherboard manufacturers are also partially to blame here. It should have been foreseeable that they were reaching the limits of capacity of their BIOS chips. And AMD did say they were supporting AM4 until 2020, they even had a roadmap already...

On a more humorous note, AMD has underdog status, which reduces the amount of crap they will get for this by 75%...
Posted on Reply
#10
Ubersonic
In fairness it's not like Gigabyte have ever supported first gen Ryzens anyway xD
Posted on Reply
#11
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
Everything gets phased out at some point. If I recall correctly bristleridge was primarily a stopgap until the ryzen parts arrived
Posted on Reply
#12
nienorgt
They are already planning to drop support for older CPU while AMD is planning to support this socket until 2020? There's gonna be a problem down the ro
So basically AMD want to have long term motherboard upgradability to differentiate with Intel but motherboard makers don't want to loose a chance to sell more motherboards and will use this trick to self limits it's motherboards?
Posted on Reply
#13
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
:kookoo:
nienorgt said:
They are already planning to drop support for older CPU while AMD is planning to support this socket until 2020? There's gonna be a problem down the ro
So basically AMD want to have long term motherboard upgradability to differentiate with Intel but motherboard makers don't want to loose a chance to sell more motherboards and will use this trick to self limits it's motherboards?
Do you realize that Bristol Ridge is Excavator architecture which wasn't that efficient and is a left over from FX Bulldozer? It was only used as a stopgap till Ryzen G series parts came out.

FX worked ok in desktop market, mobile not so much.

Stop trying to spread FUD! :slap: @nienorgt

TheinsanegamerN said:
The responses here are....interesting.

When intel launches a new chipset for a single generation, everyone talks about how horrible it is, and how intel needs to support their hardware better, but then AMD drops support for a CPU generation and suddenly everything is hunky dory?

After all, if current motherboards cant support both raven ridge and bristol ridge along with zen, what happens in a year when raven ridge + and zen 2 come out, and zen 1 and raven ridge are dropped for the same reason? Are people going to go on about how removing CPU support is a good thing now?


The "promise" here is AMD supporting their platform, removing CPU support fragments a platform, which people give intel an endless amount of shit for. It's only fair that AMD will get slagged for it as well.
:roll::roll:

Difference is intel changes sockets every other year

ironwolf said:
Before the 2200G came out I built up a few Bristol Ridge systems, one dual core and one quad core. They were fine for what the customer needed them for. Now that the 2200G is out, pretty much all the Bristol Ridge APUs are obsolete, unless someone was really really really cutting down on $$$ and dropping the dual core APU in a box. So I don't see any huge deal in dropping support for them later on down the line. AMD isn't coming out with any new model # Bristol Ridge APUs are they?
Nope All Ryzen
Posted on Reply
#14
TheinsanegamerN
windwhirl said:
Motherboard manufacturers are also partially to blame here. It should have been foreseeable that they were reaching the limits of capacity of their BIOS chips. And AMD did say they were supporting AM4 until 2020, they even had a roadmap already...

On a more humorous note, AMD has underdog status, which reduces the amount of crap they will get for this by 75%...
Absoutely, especially because I remember one of the reasons for the move to UEFI was that the 128 Mb BIOS limitations were an issue. So its not like this is a new problem for mtoherboard makers to worry about.

As for AMD's underdog status, see below:

eidairaman1 said:
:kookoo:

Do you realize that Bristol Ridge is Excavator architecture which wasn't that efficient and is a left over from FX Bulldozer? It was only used as a stopgap till Ryzen G series parts came out.

FX worked ok in desktop market, mobile not so much.

Stop trying to spread FUD! :slap:@nienorgt
Apparently dropping CPU support is fine because they were not efficient enough. I cant wait for the excuses when zen is dropped for zen 2 support, and how this is totally better then intel requiring new motherboards every 2 years.
Posted on Reply
#15
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
TheinsanegamerN said:
Absoutely, especially because I remember one of the reasons for the move to UEFI was that the 128 Mb BIOS limitations were an issue. So its not like this is a new problem for mtoherboard makers to worry about.

As for AMD's underdog status, see below:


Apparently dropping CPU support is fine because they were not efficient enough. I cant wait for the excuses when zen is dropped for zen 2 support, and how this is totally better then intel requiring new motherboards every 2 years.
Boards cost money, each cpu you get from intel you are forced to get a new board by the way.

Fyi Ryzen had bigger success than Bristolridge so your point is moot.
Posted on Reply
#16
TheinsanegamerN
eidairaman1 said:
Boards cost money, each cpu you get from intel you are forced to get a new board by the way.

Fyi Ryzen had bigger success than Bristolridge so your point is moot.
Except you dont have to replace intel CPUs every 2 years because they perform well. So needing an upgrade path isnt a worry, I can buy an intel CPU and run it for 5-10 years with no worry, by then new memory/storage interfaces will be available, and I wont want to use my old motherboard. For AMD, inter generation upgrading is a selling point, so taking that away lessens the prospect of an already underdog platform.

The success of Ryzen does not make the point moot. Ask yourself this genius: if motherboards cannot hold microcode for Bristol, raven, and zen at the same time due to space limitations, what is going to happen next year, when you have raven ridge 2 and zen 2 on the market, and some AM4 motherboard will support both, some will only support gen 1, and some will only support gen 2 because of limitations, and people have to buy new AM4 motherboards because they cant run zen 2 on their older AM4 board?

The point wont be so moot when your platform is fragmented beyond recognition, and your promise of support until 2020 becomes a nightmare of incompatibilities straight out of 1995. :slap:
Posted on Reply
#17
Vya Domus
TheinsanegamerN said:

When intel launches a new chipset for a single generation, everyone talks about how horrible it is, and how intel needs to support their hardware better, but then AMD drops support for a CPU generation and suddenly everything is hunky dory?
You are joking , right ? AMD included support on their new AM4 platform for what essentially is an older modified APU line which used to work on a different socket in the past. They already put more effort into supporting older parts than Intel ever did.
Posted on Reply
#18
hat
Enthusiast
windwhirl said:
On the other hand, instead of so much fancy crap, we could do just fine with a classic interface. It's not like we work all day in UEFI
This I can agree with. I've had no problems working in the old BIOS.

Everything's gotta be bloated well beyond the brim these days... kinda ridiculous.
Posted on Reply
#19
Kaotik
Funny how "motherboard makers might drop support" turns into "are removing" in the title :kookoo:
This is actually worse than the clickbait-titles everyone hates - sure, they don't tell anything about the subject, but at least they're not straight up lying about the subject either.
Posted on Reply
#20
seronx
eidairaman1 said:
Do you realize that Bristol Ridge is Excavator architecture which wasn't that efficient and is a left over from FX Bulldozer? It was only used as a stopgap till Ryzen G series parts came out.

FX worked ok in desktop market, mobile not so much.
Bristol Ridge is indeed using the Excavator architecture. Excavator is the most efficent version of the Bulldozer lineup in product.

Bulldozer was a port of the 45nm version, barebone 32nm port.
Piledriver included the Jaguar branch predictor, used the overhauled 32nm transistor, included Cyclos' Resonant Clock Mesh, included fixes in FPU/Decode/etc, had a larger L1 DTLB, Load Queue, and more.
Steamroller came in with two versions one for servers and one for mobile. The server version was dropped and the mobile version was used throughout(Steamroller onward). Mobile version did;
- Lower average and peak power; micro-architecture/L2 cache optimizations
- Redesigned the FPU to be more efficient
- Switched from a shared Decode to a private per-core Decode. There was also an overhaul in the prefetch/fetch area.
- Utilized the AMD's branch version of Resonant Clock Mesh. (AMD/rcm rather than Cyclos/rcm which was more safe power-wise.)

Excavator also came in with two versions one for 20nm LPM and 28nm A(an overhaul of 28SHP for more area.). The 20LPM version was dropped. Excavator brought 15h to the power-optimized roadmap at GloFo. The changes that Carrizo/Excavator(28A) and Bristol Ridge/Excavator+(28HPA) are pretty big.
- AVFS/IVR in some Carrizo models, AVFS/IVR in all Bristol Ridge models.
- Large L1ds and a smaller L2 cache.
- Most of Carrizo/Bristol Ridge is in the SoC area; HSA1.0 Spec Compliant, DDR4 Support, Carrizo with GCN3+(Fiji/Pirate Islands) and Bristol Ridge with GCN4(Polaris/Arctic Islands).
- Bristol Ridge brought all of Carrizo's mobile optimizations to the desktop parts; A12-9800/etc.

Excavator with Bristol Ridge(+Stoney Ridge) is thus the most efficient 15h architecture/SoC. There is a lot of stuff they did with Bulldozer through Excavator which I might not have covered.
Posted on Reply
#21
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
seronx said:
Bristol Ridge is indeed using the Excavator architecture. Excavator is the most efficent version of the Bulldozer lineup in product.

Bulldozer was a port of the 45nm version, barebone 32nm port.
Piledriver included the Jaguar branch predictor, used the overhauled the 32nm transistor, included Cyclos' Resonant Clock Mesh, included fixes in FPU/Decode/etc, had a larger L1 DTLB, Load Queue, and more.
Steamroller came in with two versions one for servers and one for mobile. The server version was dropped and the mobile version was used throughout. Mobile version did;
- Lower average and peak power; micro-architecture/L2 cache optimizations
- Redesigned the FPU to be more efficient
- Switched from a shared Decode to a private per-core Decode. There was also an overhaul in the prefetch/fetch area.
- Utilized the AMD's branch version of Resonant Clock Mesh.

Excavator also came in with two versions one for 20nm LPM and 28nm A(an overhaul of 28SHP for more area.). The 20LPM version was dropped. Excavator brought 15h to the power-optimized roadmap at GloFo. The changes that Carrizo/Excavator(28A) and Bristol Ridge/Excavator+(28HPA) are pretty big.
- AVFS/IVR in some Carrizo models, AVFS/IVR in all Bristol Ridge models.
- Large L1ds and a smaller L2 cache.
- Most of Carrizo/Bristol Ridge is in the SoC area; HSA1.0 Spec Compliant, DDR4 Support, Carrizo with GCN3+(Fiji/Pirate Islands) and Bristol Ridge with GCN4(Polaris/Arctic Islands).
- Bristol Ridge brought all of Carrizo's mobile optimizations to the desktop parts; A12-9800/etc.

Excavator with Bristol Ridge is thus the most efficient 15h architecture/SoC.
I find it funny you are telling me something I already know, but thanks anyway.
Posted on Reply
#22
Kaotik
seronx said:

- Most of Carrizo/Bristol Ridge is in the SoC area; HSA1.0 Spec Compliant, DDR4 Support, Carrizo with GCN3+(Fiji/Pirate Islands) and Bristol Ridge with GCN4(Polaris/Arctic Islands).
This is wrong, Bristol Ridge uses GCN3 just like Carrizo - in fact it is essentially the same chip as Carrizo on updated "version" of the 28nm process.
Posted on Reply
#23
seronx
Kaotik said:
This is wrong, Bristol Ridge uses GCN3 just like Carrizo - in fact it is essentially the same chip as Carrizo on updated "version" of the 28nm process.
Bristol Ridge is using GCN4, a version of it. Bristol Ridge is hardwired for 2:1 single-precision/double-precision and has the 10-bit AVC/HEVC decoder. (Stoney/Bristol/Polaris are same gen. Raven skipped Polaris for Vega as Bristol/Stoney used it already.)
Posted on Reply
#24
Kaotik
seronx said:
Bristol Ridge is using GCN4, a version of it. Bristol Ridge is hardwired for 2:1 single-precision/double-precision and has the 10-bit AVC/HEVC decoder. (Stoney/Bristol/Polaris are same gen. Raven skipped Polaris for Vega as Bristol/Stoney used it already.)
No, it's using GCN3.
https://www.anandtech.com/show/10705/amd-7th-gen-bristol-ridge-and-am4-analysis-a12-9800-b350-a320-chipset/3
AMD configures the integrated graphics in terms of Compute Units (CUs), with each CU having 64 streaming processors (SPs) using GCN 1.3 (aka GCN 3.0) architecture, the same architecture as found in AMD’s R9 Fury line of GPUs
Carrizo, Bristol and Stoney all include UVD6, which was introduced with Fiji. Tonga uses older UVD5 but they're still both GCN3
Posted on Reply
#25
seronx
Kaotik said:
No, it's using GCN3.
http://rocm-documentation.readthedocs.io/en/latest/GCN_ISA_Manuals/GCN-ISA-Manuals.html#gcn-2-0
Fiji and Polaris both utilize the "GCN2" ISA;
gfx801 = Carrizo
gfx803 = Fiji, Polaris
gfx810 = Stoney, Bristol
gfx900 = Vega
gfx902 = Raven

Kaotik said:
Carrizo, Bristol and Stoney all include UVD6, which was introduced with Fiji. Tonga uses older UVD5 but they're still both GCN3
Bristol Ridge and Stoney Ridge utilize IP after Fiji/Polaris; GFX810, rather than GFX803.

Trust me, Stoney/Bristol is GCN4 with Polaris RX580-RX550. (Which by the way uses GFX810 as well... the confusion increases!)

Developers for AMD software are more correct than AMD marketing, imho.
Posted on Reply
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