Monday, July 8th 2019

BIOS ROM Size Limitations Almost Derail AMD's Zen2 Backwards Compatibility Promise

AMD succeeded in delivering on its backwards-compatibility promise for the 3rd generation Ryzen processors on motherboards based on AMD 300-series and 400-series chipsets. This promise was very close to being derailed suggests a community thread on MSI forums. According to MSI representatives active on the forum, the capacity of the SPI flash EEPROM chip that stores the motherboard UEFI firmware is woefully limited to cram in the AGESA ComboAM4 1.0.0.3a microcode on many of its motherboards.

The company had to make several changes to its UEFI BIOS package that's currently being circulated as a "beta," to accommodate support for 3rd generation Ryzen processors along with AGESA ComboAM4 1.0.0.3a. First, it had to kick out support for A-series and Athlon processors based on the 28 nm "Bristol Ridge" silicon. Second, it had to [and this is a big one], kick the RAID module, breaking SATA RAID on many of its motherboards. Third, it had to replace its feature-rich Click BIOS 5 setup program with a barebones "GSE Lite" Click BIOS program, which lacks many of the features of the original program, and comes with a dull, low-resolution UI. This program still includes some essential MSI-exclusive features such as A-XMP (which translates Intel XMP profiles to AMD-compatible settings), Smart Fan, and M-Flash.
The scary part? Many other motherboard brands appear to be using 16-megabyte EEPROMs on their older socket AM4 motherboards. These companies are bound to run into similar ROM capacity issues unless they keep their UEFI setup programs lightweight. Motherboards based on the latest X570 chipset feature 32-megabyte EEPROMs. The AMD X570 chipset lacks support for not just "Bristol Ridge," but also first-generation Ryzen "Summit Ridge" and "Raven Ridge" processors.

We recommend that unless you literally possess a 3rd generation Ryzen processor, do not update the BIOS of your older socket AM4 motherboard. You may risk losing features and break your RAID volumes. Find out the latest version of BIOS that has the classic AGESA PinnaclePI 1.0.0.6 microcode, and use that instead. Source: MSI
Add your own comment

88 Comments on BIOS ROM Size Limitations Almost Derail AMD's Zen2 Backwards Compatibility Promise

#1
Solaris17
Dainty Moderator
I wonder if they could at all be bros and also include a non stripped down version for tweakers. Id happily dump the bios and swap to a bigger chip. I've done it several times anyway.
Posted on Reply
#2
Bruno_O
Very informative, thanks for the heads up. Now just need to check what's the BIOS update needed for the Win10 1903 May update with Ryzen improvements, while at the same time not taking the latest BIOS...
Posted on Reply
#3
spectatorx
Basically this means two things:
1. UEFI is bloated huge crap.
2. Motherboards manufacturers cheap on bios modules and use 16MB instead of 32MB.

I'm lucky and my x470 motherboard has 256Mb module which is 32MB, i just checked it right after reading this news. I've never been a fan of fancy GUIs in UEFI and i would assume these take a lot of space. I totally would prefer classic look with added mouse support for these who do not know how to use keyboard to navigate in bios.
Posted on Reply
#4
RH92
Bruno_O, post: 4077275, member: 169969"
Very informative, thanks for the heads up. Now just need to check what's the BIOS update needed for the Win10 1903 May update with Ryzen improvements, while at the same time not taking the latest BIOS...
I think you are confused , what you are reffering to are chipset drivers and that only works for 3000 series CPUs so if you don't have one of those there is no point to update bios nor the chipset drivers .
Posted on Reply
#5
EatingDirt
Third, it had to replace its feature-rich Click BIOS 5 setup program with a barebones "GSE Lite" Click BIOS program, which lacks many of the features of the original program, the least of which is its dull, low-resolution UI.
It doesn't sound like they replaced any features besides... raid as previously mentioned? So saying they had to replace a 'feature rich' bios with something else really isn't true because seemingly all they did was they made it look like... it should? A bios isn't some sort of thing anyone should need to look great, it's a tool. I don't care what my hammer looks like, as long as it works, just like a bios/UEFI.

I guess the real question is, how much will the microcode make a difference? It's something that would be nice to see tested thoroughly. I mean, my X370 Taichi has support for Ryzen 3000 series and they straight up tell you on the specs on their site that the UEFI chip is 16MB.
Posted on Reply
#6
Jism
Bios, basic input output system. Not a graphical user interface, with mouse support, sounds, bells and graphics. 16megabit should be way more then enough if you skip all the fancy bells. Just keep it plain simple, lol.
Posted on Reply
#7
GoldenX
I don't care. I got Zen 2 support.
To hell with RAID.
Posted on Reply
#8
biffzinker
GoldenX, post: 4077292, member: 160319"
To hell with RAID.
I forgot the B350 supported RAID. Has MSI posted a finalized UEFI update for your board since pulling the beta?

One of the first things I turn off is the splash screen so I can see what's going on during POST.
Posted on Reply
#10
spectatorx
There is lengthy article about this on msi's support page and to be honest this looks bad, like really bad, it looks like they say to customer "the thing you purchased is crap so we have to workaround things like crazy to make it work at all with features that were supposed to be delivered properly".

https://www.msi.com/blog/the-latest-bios-for-amd-300-400-series-motherboard

Now i feel like i have to apologize anyone to who i recommended MSI x470 motherboards (as i recommended only x470 chipset boards in every case) because every time i recommended am4 motherboard i said this socket will offer compatibility with cpus released up to year 2020.
Posted on Reply
#11
GoldenX
biffzinker, post: 4077300, member: 163731"
I forgot the B350 supported RAID. Has MSI posted a finalized UEFI update for your board since pulling the beta?

One of the first things I turn off is the splash screen so I can see what's going on during POST.
Only the beta so far.
Posted on Reply
#12
Batou1986
Motherboard manufactures using the cheapest possible parts threaten future CPU support
Not the least bit surprising
Posted on Reply
#13
Totally
Why not have a set of good BIOSes instead of one that is compromised? 1 for 1000/2000 CPUs and another for 3000 CPUs?
Posted on Reply
#14
tony359
is this MSI only or does it apply to other manufacturers too?

I have an A320 MSI MB and I engaged into several conversations over the past months on these pages where I was told it was 'normal' to expect that such a cheap motherboard was not supported because of <put a reason here>. Someone also suggested that the mobo was not up to the electrical requirements for the Zen2 procs and that I shouldn't have saved those $10 and should have gone for a better model in the first place.

Now that MSI have released a BIOS for their A320s that support ALL Ryzen 3000 - and it's the same BIOS showing the same limitations that 'better and more expensive' motherboards have available - I think I'll do a bit of a Nelson and send those users a big

AH-HA!

:)
Posted on Reply
#15
biffzinker
Batou1986, post: 4077313, member: 17221"
Motherboard manufactures using the cheapest possible parts threaten future CPU support
Not the least bit surprising
There is the BoM (Bill of Materials) angle when your producing X amount of motherboards. I would imagine the mobo manufacturers sell more mid/low-end boards vs high-end, and are not exactly raking in the money like the DRAM/NAND brand names have for how long the prices were up.
Posted on Reply
#16
spectatorx
tony359, post: 4077321, member: 186575"
is this MSI only or does it apply to other manufacturers too?

I have an A320 MSI MB and I engaged into several conversations over the past months on these pages where I was told it was 'normal' to expect that such a cheap motherboard was not supported because of <put a reason here>. Someone also suggested that the mobo was not up to the electrical requirements for the Zen2 procs and that I shouldn't have saved those $10 and should have gone for a better model in the first place.

Now that MSI have released a BIOS for their A320s that support ALL Ryzen 3000 - and it's the same BIOS showing the same limitations that 'better and more expensive' motherboards have available - I think I'll do a bit of a Nelson and send those users a big

AH-HA!

:)
Yes and no. Personally i wouldn't recommend A320 chipset for anything more than an apu. Problem lies in size of eeprom module, some motherboards use 16MB but upgraded bios do not fit on these modules and manufacturers have to workaround this, for example by slashing off some features which is bad.

Problem is not isolated to just msi as for example, [USER=176500]EatingDirt[/USER], here said his x370 taichi, which is high end motherboard also has 16MB module so Asrock will have to do something about it.

If you are going to use your a320 motherboard with ryzen cpus and msi somehow will add support for 3xxx and 4xxx series ryzen cpus do not expect them to work at their full capabilities anyway. They will be limited by limited bios and chipset features and also they will not have proper amounts of power delivered so for example if you will decide to use 3950x in that motherboard msi will optimize bios to deliver less power to it just to be able to make it work.
Posted on Reply
#17
efikkan
I'm just surprised they didn't foresee this, I thought this platform was planned to last for several cycles. It shouldn't be too hard to estimate the space required for firmware for several new CPU lineups.

Now, what about the CPUs coming in the next two-three years?
Posted on Reply
#18
R-T-B
spectatorx, post: 4077276, member: 95141"
UEFI is bloated huge crap.
More like AGESA. In the Intel realm, that size would be absurd. Heck, even for a UEFI module it's absurdly huge. That's like a micro OS with a linux kernel, makes me wonder what AMD hides in there... wonder how obfuscated it is, etc.

Totally, post: 4077318, member: 90126"
Why not have a sets of good BIOS? 1 for 1000/2000 CPUs and another for 3000 CPUs?
I don't think AGESA can be de-encapsulated like that, or I'd certainly advise it. Sadly it's just a bigass binary blob.
Posted on Reply
#19
Crackong
I don't see the problem with my 3700x currently sitting on my x370 MB.
Posted on Reply
#20
spectatorx
R-T-B, post: 4077332, member: 41983"
More like AGESA. In the Intel realm, that size would be absurd. Heck, even for a UEFI module it's absurdly huge. That's like a micro OS with a linux kernel, makes me wonder what AMD hides in there... wonder how obfuscated it is, etc.



I don't think AGESA can be de-encapsulated like that, or I'd certainly advise it. Sadly it's just a bigass binary blob.
Well, seems like it is doable, they already did cut out support for some cpus and apus.
Posted on Reply
#21
EarthDog
This just hit today? I swear this was discussed months ago when back support was being discussed...seems. like they found a workaround but cuts off some features. Interesting.
Posted on Reply
#22
R-T-B
spectatorx, post: 4077337, member: 95141"
Well, seems like it is doable, they already did cut out support for some cpus and apus.
Ah yes, missed that. Must have some seperate builds from AMD I'm guessing? I hope they can request more with other things cut then.

At any rate, *I* don't know how to de-encapsulate AGESA. But manufacturers may have tools I lack. I certainly hope so.

EarthDog, post: 4077338, member: 79836"
This just hit today? I swear this was discussed months ago when back support was being discussed...
I had trouble believing it then but aparently, it's real. 'dat UEFI bloat.... I seriously want to take apart AGESA now and see what I can find.
Posted on Reply
#23
tony359
spectatorx, post: 4077326, member: 95141"
Yes and no. Personally i wouldn't recommend A320 chipset for anything more than an apu. Problem lies in size of eeprom module, some motherboards use 16MB but upgraded bios do not fit on these modules and manufacturers have to workaround this, for example by slashing off some features which is bad.
That's never been my point. If AMD has added some new features which are not fully supported by older chipsets, I'm fine with that. But what I was being told was that "it is ok that your motherboard will not support Ryzen 3000 because it's a cheap motherboard". That has never made any sense and it's now fully disproved by facts. In fact, not only has the A320 received an update but the same limited update now applies to the "better 'because more expensive'" models.

I hope I do not sound too harsh but some users did sound a bit harsh on me in the past on this very subject.

efikkan, post: 4077331, member: 150226"
I'm just surprised they didn't foresee this, I thought this platform was planned to last for several cycles. It shouldn't be too hard to estimate the space required for firmware for several new CPU lineups.
Exactly my thought. Considering the massive workaround to have this working, I have a feeling AMD may have imposed this to the manufacturer, probably from the beginning. Then I don't understand why they now have to use those weird workarounds.
I have a feeling that something went wrong on AMD's side - maybe they were not expecting such a large code for the new CPU's.
Posted on Reply
#24
Steevo
spectatorx, post: 4077276, member: 95141"
Basically this means two things:
1. UEFI is bloated huge crap.
2. Motherboards manufacturers cheap on bios modules and use 16MB instead of 32MB.

I'm lucky and my x470 motherboard has 256Mb module which is 32MB, i just checked it right after reading this news. I've never been a fan of fancy GUIs in UEFI and i would assume these take a lot of space. I totally would prefer classic look with added mouse support for these who do not know how to use keyboard to navigate in bios.
I had a windows 95 machine years ago with mouse support in the BIOS. It's too many fancy looking backgrounds and the tables for control and support.
Posted on Reply
#25
tony359
To be honest I’ve always thought that all that graphic on the BIOS was not necessary. I don’t mind a basic one as long as it has all the features I need. I don’t use RAID on my Ryzen but that would be a bummer. The MSI page doesn’t mention RAID missing though. Maybe it’s just the beta?
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment