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MSI B460 Chipset Motherboard Series Now Available

MSI, the world-leading motherboard manufacturer, proudly announces Intel B460 series motherboards. Since the current Intel 10th Gen processor has doubled the efficiency of the thread, it is an excellent match with the B460 series chipset on the mainstream i5 / i7 processor, this time MSI launched 4 models of MAG series at a time, including MAG B460 TOMAHAWK in ATX size and three mATX size models including MAG B460M MORTAR, MAG B460M MORTAR WIFI, and MAG B460M BAZOOKA. This completes an enriching amount of choices for mainstream gamers.

MAG B460 TOMAHAWK is equipped with MSI Extended Heatsink Design, which is well-prepared for the potential rise in temperature. Turbo M.2 with M.2 shield Frozr allows for maximum performance without throttling condition. Adopted ASMedia 3241 controller chip brings up to 20 Gbps transfer speed with Type-C connector. 2.5G Gigabit LAN with the LAN manager offers faster networking experiences. 12+1+1 Duet Rail Power System gives more stability for entry-level gamers.

AMD B550 Chipset Detailed, It's Ready for Zen 3, Older AM4 Motherboards not Compatible

In their briefing leading up to today's Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300X review embargo, AMD disclosed that its upcoming "Zen 3" 4th generation Ryzen desktop processors will only support AMD 500-series (or later) chipsets. The next-gen processors will not work with older 400-series or 300-series chipsets. This comes as a blow to those who bought premium X470 motherboards hoping for latest CPU compatibility running into 2020. At this time only B550 is available, but we expect more news on enthusiast chipsets as the Zen 3 launch date comes closer. AMD B550 is a fascinating new mid-range chipset by AMD. Launching today as a successor to the popular B450 chipset, B550 is a low-power silicon with roughly the same 5-7 W TDP as the older 400-series chipset. Although AMD won't confirm it, it's likely that the chipset is sourced from ASMedia. It brings a lot to the table that could draw buyers away from B450, but it also takes some away.

The AMD B550 currently only supports 3rd generation Ryzen "Matisse" processors. Ryzen 3000 "Picasso" APU are not supported. What's more, older Ryzen 2000 "Pinnacle Ridge," "Raven Ridge," and first gen Ryzen 1000 "Summit Ridge" aren't supported, either. The Athlon 200 and 3000 "Zen" based chips miss out, too. AMD argues that it ran into ROM size limitations when trying to cram AGESA microcode for all the older processors. We find that hard to believe because B450 motherboards with the latest ComboAM4 AGESA support 2nd gen and 3rd gen processors, including APUs and Athlon SKUs based on the two. On the bright side, AMD assured us (within its marketing slides for the B550), that the chipset will support upcoming processors based on the "Zen 3" microarchitecture. The company also came up with a new motherboard packaging label that clarifies that the processors won't work with the 3400G and 3200G.
AMD B550 chipset highlights AMD B550 processor support AMD B550 vs B450

AMD B550 Chipset Motherboards Priced Roughly on-par with B450 Based Ones

AMD's upcoming B550 desktop chipset, which plays second-fiddle to the premium X570, could bring relief to gaming PC builders wanting to put together 3rd gen Ryzen desktops with PCI-Express gen 4.0 graphics and M.2 SSD connectivity on the cheap. Pricing of a handful ASUS B550 motherboards was leaked to the web by Australian retailer ICIT.net.au, who listed the somewhat premium ASUS ROG Strix B550-F Gaming for AUD $262.90, including GST (converts to USD $167 including all taxes). The retailer also lists TUF B550-Plus Gaming and Prime B550M-A at the same exact price, which could be pre-launch inflation (so we're going by the price of what could be the best-endowed SKUs among the three).

If this pricing holds up, B550 based boards could launch at prices close to those of B450 boards at launch. The B550 is AMD's mid-range desktop chipset that is expected to enable PCI-Express gen 4.0, at least where it matters the most (the main x16 slot and the M.2 slot that's wired to the AM4 SoC). Much like its predecessors, the B450 and B350, it could enable CPU- and memory overclocking. Reports dating back to Q3-2019 point to the B550 being ASMedia-sourced, and having a far lower chipset TDP than the X570 (making do with passive heatsinks like the AMD 400-series).

New Report Pins ASMedia B550 and A520 Chipset Production to begin Only in Q1 2020

While many users were likely expecting AMD to launch their lower-tier alternatives B550 and A520 chipset solutions for their Ryzen 2 CPUs shortly after their release to the market last year, users who want to pair a more inexpensive motherboard have had to wait in the rain until now. At the time, industry sources pointed towards fabrication of ASMedia's B550 and A520 chipsets for the AM4 platform to begin shipping to motherboard manufacturers in Q4 2019.

Now, new reports say that production of these chipsets (simpler in features, and thus, in price, whilst also not requiring active cooling) will only begin in Q1 2020, which means likely retail availability (at least in significant volumes) in Q2 at the earliest. It seems that users will, for the time being, have to make do with the usually top-of-the-line chipset option for the AMD platform - which is, coincidentally, the one with bigger margins for AMD.

ASUS Rolls Out Pro WS X299 SAGE II Motherboard

ASUS today rolled out the Pro WS X299 SAGE II, a redesign and refresh of its WS X299 SAGE series quasi-workstation motherboards, designed for those who want to use Intel's 10th generation Core XE "Cascade Lake-X" HEDT processors in a workstation-like environment (CEB form-factor) and can make do without ECC memory. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and two 8-pin EPS power connectors, along with an optional 6-pin PCIe power input to stabilize add-on card power delivery. An 8-phase VRM conditions power for the socket LGA2066 processor. The board employs PLX PEX8747 bridge chips to convert two x16 PCIe gen 3.0 links from the LGA2066 processor to four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots with full bandwidth, or seven slots with x16/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8 wiring.

Storage options on the ASUS Pro WS X299 SAGE II include three U.2 ports, two M.2 slots (one right below the PCH heatsink, and the other vertical); and eight SATA 6 Gbps ports. Network connectivity includes two 2.5 GbE interfaces driven by a pair of Intel i225-LM controllers. USB connectivity includes two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports driven by an ASMedia controller (from which one is type-C), a second such controller driving an internal port, and eight USB 3.2 gen 1 ports from the X299 PCH. A high-grade onboard audio solution featuring Realtek S1220A HDA codec, headphones amp, ground-layer isolation, and audio-grade capacitors, make for the rest of this board. The company didn't reveal pricing.

AMD X570-successor to be Third-Party Sourced

AMD X570 chipset is the industry's first PC platform core-logic to support PCI-Express gen 4.0, but has proven to be expensive and hot. Its 600-series chipset successor will be third-party sourced much like its 400-series predecessor, according to a MyDrivers report citing sources in the motherboard industry. AMD is reportedly sourcing its 500-series mid-range chipset, the B550, from ASMedia. The B550 uses PCI-Express 3.0 x4 as its chipset bus, and puts out eight PCIe gen 3.0 downstream general purpose lanes, however, B550 motherboards could still feature PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slots from the socket AM4 SoC (provided a 3rd gen Ryzen processor is installed), and at least one of the M.2 NVMe slots on B550 motherboards could have PCI-Express 4.0 x4, since they're wired to the SoC instead of the chipset.

The MyDrivers report predicts that the successor to X570, the supposed "X670," could be sourced from a third-party firm, much like the B550, and implement PCI-Express gen 4.0, not just as chipset-bus, but also putting out PCI-Express gen 4.0 general purpose lanes. A possible design goal of the X670 could be to implement PCIe gen 4.0 switching fabric without running too hot, resulting in a cooler chipset than can make do with fanless cooling solutions, much like the X470. AMD will continue to make "chipsets" in the form of I/O controller dies for use in its MCM processors, although the relatively low-margin motherboard chipset business could be axed.

ASRock AMD B550AM Gaming Motherboard Spied

Here is the first picture of a motherboard based on AMD's upcoming mid-range desktop motherboard chipset, the AMD "B550A," the ASRock B550AM Gaming. The board was spied inside a pre-built desktop at a Best Buy store. This is the first time we've seen the mid-range chipset being referenced as "B550A" and not "B550." The "A" may not be part of the motherboard's model name as the "M" denotes Micro-ATX and usually succeeds the chipset model in ASRock's nomenclature. The B550(A) will be an important chipset for AMD as it will enable motherboards priced under the $150 mark that support AMD's 3rd generation Ryzen processor's I/O natively.

While the X570 is an in-house development by AMD, the B550 is sourced from ASMedia, and is expected to be a new version of the "Promontory-LP" silicon. The only thing that sets this chip apart from the 400-series "Promontory-LP" is PCI-Express gen 3.0 certification. The chipset talks to the AM4 SoC over a PCI-Express 3.0 x4 link, and puts out up to 8 PCI-Express gen 3.0 downstream lanes. A 3rd gen Ryzen processor on a B550 motherboard still puts out PCI-Express gen 4.0 connectivity, which means you get one PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slot, and one M.2 slot with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring. The rest of the chipset's I/O will be similar to the 400-series, which includes six SATA 6 Gbps ports, up to two 10 Gbps USB 3.1 ports, up to four 5 Gbps USB 3.1 ports, and eight USB 2.0/1.1 ports. If the AM4 SoC installed is a 3rd gen Ryzen, then you'll get a couple more 10 Gbps USB 3.1 ports. AMD partners could use the opportunity to launch some of the more upscale B550 motherboards with the latest 2.5 GbE wired LAN, and 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6.

Update (16/10): We learn later down in the referenced Reddit thread, including from comments by AMD's Robert Hallock, that the B550A is a rebranded B450 targeted at OEMs. The B550 (non-A) is what is the upcoming chipset detailed in this article.

MSI Announces the Creator X299 and X299 Pro 10G Motherboards

In recent years, MSI aims at motherboards in content creation market for the ever-increasing number of creators and the popularity. Together with the new launch of Intel Core X-Series processors, we are proud to introduce three new motherboards to anticipate every creator's need from high loading operation to general graphic design. For the high-end processors and X299 platform, MSI all aluminium design ensures CPU to run at full speed for the best performance. Larger heatsinks contains more surface for heat dissipation to cool down CPU while high-loading operation.

USB 3.2 Gen 2x2: Super Speed USB 20G: For all types of designers, large data and files transfer is always troublesome as it takes plenty of waiting time. All new MSI X299 motherboards support the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Super Speed USB 20G solution powered by ASMedia to meet creators' requirement. Transfer speed enhances to incredibly 4 times faster than USB 3.2 Gen1 solution so that designers can save time on backup and other essential data transfer processes. "We are pleased to have a strong and close relationship with MSI. ASMedia Technology Inc. offers the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Super Speed USB 20G solution to the market and continues working closely with top motherboard vendor MSI," said Chewei Lin, President of ASMedia.

Radeon RX 5300 XT and AMD B550 Chipset Coming to OEM Systems in October

HP has listed new desktop consumer prebuilts that use previously unannounced hardware from AMD, namely the Radeon RX 5300 XT graphics card and the B550 chipset. B550 has been expected for a while — it's a lower-cost chipset for Ryzen 3000 "Zen 2" processors with reduced feature set. HP calls the chipset "AMD Promontory B550A" in their sheets which seems to be designed and produced by ASMedia (unlike X570, which is a fully AMD in-house design). One of the major differences between X570 and B550 is that the latter has no support for PCI-Express 4.0, which won't matter one bit in its target segment. This move not only reduces chipset cost, it also drives down the cost of motherboards significantly, as the more stringent signal integrity requirements for PCIe 4.0 won't apply here.

While we have heard rumors that AMD is working on a smaller chip for their "Navi" architecture (Navi 12 and Navi 14), it's uncertain whether RX 5300 XT is really based on Navi, or whether it will be yet another rebrand — we wouldn't be surprised if Polaris is making a comeback yet again. Both systems are listed for € 699 and € 899, with shelf availability expected for October 8th.

BIOSTAR Unveils Racing X470GTA Motherboard: Ryzen 3000 Support and Legacy PCI

Motherboard manufacturers seem to be rushing the fill the void of cost-effective motherboards with out of the box Ryzen 3000 support, as AMD X570 motherboards start at $170. The latest entrant is the Racing X470GTA by BIOSTAR, priced around the $120-mark, and packing an interesting mix of modern- and legacy connectivity. Built in the ATX form-factor, the board draws power from 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors, conditioning it for the SoC with a simple 4+3 phase VRM. Out of the box, the board supports all Ryzen 3000-series processors launched so far, in addition to 1st and 2nd generation Ryzen, A-series, and Athlon "Bristol Ridge," which make up pretty much every socket AM4 chip launched so far.

The AM4 socket is wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots, a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, and the board's lone M.2 slot. Two PCIe gen 2.0 x1, and a PCI-Express x16 slot with gen 2.0 x4 wiring, make for the rest of the expansion area; while six SATA 6 Gbps ports make the remaining storage options. This is probably the only AMD X470 motherboard to feature legacy PCI slots, using an ASMedia bridge chip. USB connectivity includes two 10 Gbps USB 3.1 gen 2 ports (from which one is type-C), and eight 5 Gb/s USB 3.1 gen 1 ports (from which four are by headers) The lone network interface is a 1 GbE driven by a Realtek 8118AS "DragonLAN" chip. The onboard audio solution is powered by an entry-level Realtek ALC892. Other legacy connectivity includes a PS/2 combo port and a serial COM header. Despite these, there are some wacky enthusiast-friendly features, including onboard buttons for automated overclocking, power/reset; dual-BIOS with a manual 2-way switch, and diagnostic LEDs.

AMD B550 and A520 Lack PCIe Gen 4 Capabilities?

Last Friday, we reported ASMedia working on new-generation socket AM4 motherboard chipsets that succeed the AMD B450 and A320, which could hopefully offer significantly cheaper alternatives to boards based on the feature-rich AMD X570 chipset. The DigiTimes story we cited was updated to clarify that the chipset only supports PCI-Express gen 3.0, and not the newer PCI-Express gen 4.0. There are two distinct ways of interpreting this information.

One, that motherboards based on B550 and A520 completely lack PCIe gen 4.0, including the main PCI-Express x16 (PEG) slot and the M.2 slot wired to the AM4 SoC; and two, that only the downstream PCIe lanes and the chipset bus are PCIe gen 3.0, while the main PEG slot and M.2 slot from the SoC remain gen 4. We lean toward the latter interpretation being more plausible, that AMD B550 and A520 motherboards will at least feature one PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slot, and one M.2 slot that has PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring from the AM4 SoC; while the ASMedia chipset is connected to the SoC over PCI-Express 3.0 x4, and downstream PCIe lanes put out by the chipset are gen 3.0, too. These ASMedia-sourced AMD 500-series chipset motherboards could also implement the latest PCB, CPU VRM, and memory wiring specifications released by AMD that enable CPU and memory overclocking levels unattainable on motherboards based on older chipsets.

ASMedia-sourced AMD B550, A520 Chipset Motherboards Arrive in 2020

If a recent MSRP price-list leak is anything to go by, motherboards based on the AMD X570 chipset will cost a pretty penny, beating even Intel's premium Z390 Express chipset on average motherboard pricing. Those looking for an affordable motherboard for the Ryzen 3000 series processors have the option of choosing existing AMD 400-series chipset based motherboards, and taking advantage of the USB BIOS Flashback feature that's almost universally available on the AMD platform. You lose out on PCI-Express gen 4.0 with the older platforms, which may not be a big compromise when it comes to graphics cards, but would limit your M.2 NVMe SSD performance upgrade path. One possible option would be to wait for affordable variants of AMD's 500-series chipsets, which are sourced from ASMedia.

According to DigiTimes, ASMedia will tape out its next-generation AMD-platform chipset silicon, and is on track to shipping its new chipsets to motherboard manufacturers by Q4-2019. This would pin availability of the first motherboards based on these chipsets to at least Q1 2020. These chipsets not only feature PCI-Express gen 4.0 downstream lanes, but also boards based on these will be built to AMD's PCB requirements for the new platform, enabling a PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slot for discrete graphics, and revised CPU VRM and memory wiring specifications that improve overclocking over the previous generation platform. For now there are two SKUs in the works, the B550, which succeeds the B450, and the A520, succeeding the A320.
Image Credit: Hardware.info

AMD X570 Puts Out Up To Twelve SATA 6G Ports and Sixteen PCIe Gen 4 Lanes

AMD X570 is the company's first in-house design desktop motherboard chipset for the AM4 platform. The company sourced earlier generations of chipset from ASMedia. A chipset in context of the AM4 platform only serves to expand I/O connectivity, since an AM4 processor is a full-fledged SoC, with an integrated southbridge that puts out SATA and USB ports directly from the CPU socket, in addition to LPCIO (ISA), HD audio bus, and SPI to interface with the firmware ROM chip. The X470 "Promontory Low Power" chipset runs really cool, with a maximum TDP of 5 Watts, and the ability to lower power to get its TDP down to 3W. The X570, on the other hand, has a TDP of "at least 15 Watts." A majority of the X570 motherboards we've seen at Computex 2019 had active fan-heatsinks over the chipset. We may now have a possible explanation for this - there are just too many things on the chipset.

According to AMD, the X570 chipset by itself can be made to put out a staggering twelve SATA 6 Gbps ports (not counting the two ports put out by the AM4 SoC). A possible rationale behind this may have been to enable motherboard designers to equip every M.2 slot on the motherboard with SATA wiring in addition to PCIe, without needing switches that reroute SATA connection from one of the physical ports. It's also possible that AMD encouraged motherboard designers to not wire out SATA ports from the AM4 SoC as physical ports to save costs on switches, and dedicate one of them to the M.2 slot wired to the SoC. With the two SATA ports from the SoC out of the equation, and every other M.2 slot getting a direct SATA connection from the chipset, motherboard designers can wire out the remaining SATA ports as physical ports, without spending money on switches, or worrying about customer complaints on one of their drives not working due to automatic switching. This is an extreme solution to a rather simple problem.

AMD X570 Unofficial Platform Diagram Revealed, Chipset Puts out PCIe Gen 4

AMD X570 is the company's first in-house design socket AM4 motherboard chipset, with the X370 and X470 chipsets being originally designed by ASMedia. With the X570, AMD hopes to leverage new PCI-Express gen 4.0 connectivity of its Ryzen 3000 Zen2 "Matisse" processors. The desktop platform that combines a Ryzen 3000 series processor with X570 chipset is codenamed "Valhalla." A rough platform diagram like what you'd find in motherboard manuals surfaced on ChipHell, confirming several features. To maintain pin-compatibility with older generations of Ryzen processors, Ryzen 3000 has the same exact connectivity from the SoC except two key differences.

On the AM4 "Valhalla" platform, the SoC puts out a total of 28 PCI-Express gen 4.0 lanes. 16 of these are allocated to PEG (PCI-Express graphics), configurable through external switches and redrivers either as single x16, or two x8 slots. Besides 16 PEG lanes, 4 lanes are allocated to one M.2 NVMe slot. The remaining 4 lanes serve as the chipset bus. With X570 being rumored to support gen 4.0 at least upstream, the chipset bus bandwidth is expected to double to 64 Gbps. Since it's an SoC, the socket is also wired to LPCIO (SuperIO controller). The processor's integrated southbridge puts out two SATA 6 Gbps ports, one of which is switchable to the first M.2 slot; and four 5 Gbps USB 3.x ports. It also has an "Azalia" HD audio bus, so the motherboard's audio solution is directly wired to the SoC. Things get very interesting with the connectivity put out by the X570 chipset.
Update May 21st: There is also information on the X570 chipset's TDP.
Update May 23rd: HKEPC posted what looks like an official AMD slide with a nicer-looking platform map. It confirms that AMD is going full-tilt with PCIe gen 4, both as chipset bus, and as downstream PCIe connectivity.

BIOSTAR Racing X570GT8 Zen 2 Motherboard Pictured and Detailed

MSI, without naming its product, teased its MEG X570 Ace motherboard late last week, obeying the cardinal rules of a teaser, such as not putting out clear pictures or names. BIOSTAR probably wanted to do something similar, but ended up leaking glaring details and pictures of its flagship socket AM4 motherboard based on the AMD X570 chipset, the Racing X570GT8. The X570 is AMD's first in-house design chipset for the AM4 socket after "Promontory" and FM2-based "Bolton," supplied by ASMedia. It was necessitated by the need to get downstream PCIe connectivity from the chipset to be certified for the latest generations (gen 3.0 or later), by AMD, and overcome many of the connectivity limitations of ASMedia "Promontory," from which AMD carved out previous socket AM4 chipsets.

Design compulsions of being a flagship product aside, there are signs of a clear focus on strengthening the CPU VRM on the Racing X570GT8, to cope with the rumored Ryzen 9 series 16-core "Zen 2" processor. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8+4 pin EPS connectors, conditioning it for the processor with a 12-phase VRM. There are two metal-reinforced PCI-Express x16 slots wired to the AM4 SoC, and we get the first glimpse of the PCI-Express gen 4.0 lane switching and re-driver circuitry. We haven't seen anything to suggest that the downstream PCIe lanes from the X570 chipset are gen 4.0, yet, but we expect them to at least be gen 3.0. The presence of three M.2 slots bodes well for the downstream PCIe lane count. ASMedia "Promontory" puts out a paltry eight gen 2.0 lanes. It's also interesting to see an active fan-heatsink cooling the X570 chipset, indicating a rather high TDP compared to the 3-5 Watt TDP of the 400-series "Promontory" low-power variant chipsets. The component choices by BIOSTAR look premium and are a callback to its T-Power glory days enthusiasts remember.

AMD X570 Chipset to Feature 40 PCIe 4.0 Lanes

As we gear up for launch of AMD-s Ryzen 3000 series, details are bound to come up with increasing frequency. One of the latest, regarding AMD's in-house developed X570 chipset, which brings a renewed feature set to the AM4 platform, pertains to its PCIe lanes. AMD has included a grand total of 40 PCIe 4.0 lanes on the chipset, which will be distributed between PCIe uplink, USB 3.1 Gen2, USB 2.0 and SATA, as the spec sheet below (which may not be real) indicates. That's a whole load of bandwidth for the PC platform, not counting those PCIe lanes that are to be provided by the Ryzen CPUs.

It seems AMD will be using PCIe support level as a differentiator factor for its chipsets. The X570 is reported to be the only chipset to feature PCIe 4.0 support, while all other chipsets below it (B550 and so on) will only support PCIe 3.0. These lower-end chipsets should be manufactured by ASMedia.

ASUS and ASRock AMD X570 Chipset Motherboards Listed

AMD X570 is the companion premium chipset option for the company's 3rd generation Ryzen "Matisse" processor family, and is expected to debut alongside the first of these processors some time in June, 2019. Unlike the X470 and X370, the new X570 will be based on an in-house chipset design by AMD, and probably manufactured at GlobalFoundries on its 14 nm node. The mid-range "B550" and lower chipset models could continue to be sourced from ASMedia. Motherboard majors ASUS and ASRock put out their first partial lists of motherboard models based on the AMD X570.

ASUS will launch as many as seven motherboard models in its Republic of Gamers (ROG) family, led by the Crosshair VIII Formula. This indicates that ASUS is placing high enough sales expectations from the "Valhalla" platform across the competitive landscape to come out with an ROG Formula product. You can expect goodies such as 8-layer PCBs, liquid-cooling preparation for the VRM heatsinks, Thunderbolt, or 10 GbE, and the most number of overclocker-friendly features. Next up, are the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero and Crosshair VIII Hero WiFi, which could be the company's second-best product offerings. For the first time on the AMD platform, ASUS will launch an ROG Impact mini-ITX product, with the ROG Crosshair VIII Impact. There will be three ROG Strix family products based on the X570, the Strix-E (premium ATX), Strix-F (mid-range ATX), and Strix-I (premium mini-ITX).

AMD Ryzen 3000 "Zen 2" BIOS Analysis Reveals New Options for Overclocking & Tweaking

AMD will launch its 3rd generation Ryzen 3000 Socket AM4 desktop processors in 2019, with a product unveiling expected mid-year, likely on the sidelines of Computex 2019. AMD is keeping its promise of making these chips backwards compatible with existing Socket AM4 motherboards. To that effect, motherboard vendors such as ASUS and MSI began rolling out BIOS updates with AGESA-Combo 0.0.7.x microcode, which adds initial support for the platform to run and validate engineering samples of the upcoming "Zen 2" chips.

At CES 2019, AMD unveiled more technical details and a prototype of a 3rd generation Ryzen socket AM4 processor. The company confirmed that it will implement a multi-chip module (MCM) design even for their mainstream-desktop processor, in which it will use one or two 7 nm "Zen 2" CPU core chiplets, which talk to a 14 nm I/O controller die over Infinity Fabric. The two biggest components of the IO die are the PCI-Express root complex, and the all-important dual-channel DDR4 memory controller. We bring you never before reported details of this memory controller.

ASMedia to Continue as Chipset Supplier to AMD, But X570 an In-house Chipset

AMD's socket AM4 and socket TR4 chipsets are originally designed by ASMedia. With its "Zen" family of processors being full-fledged SoCs, the motherboard "chipset" only serves to increase connectivity, and ASMedia already holds certifications for key groups such as the PCI-SIG, USB-IF, SATA-IO, NVM-Express group, etc. It's being reported now that ASMedia will develop some, if not all 500-series chipsets, with the exception of X570. The X570 will be an in-house design by AMD, which will use its own foundry partners (likely GloFo 14 nm) to manufacture it. This presents AMD with an opportunity to harden it against vulnerabilities, and have greater control over pricing, not to mention overcoming key design shortfalls of "Promontory," such as downstream PCIe connectivity.

This flies in the face of speculation that AMD would discontinue ASMedia's supply of chipset, especially in the wake of the "Chimera" vulnerability affecting "Promontory" 300-series and 400-series chipsets. The supposedly security-hardened 500-series chipset will feature PCI-Express gen 4.0 certification. What this means is that the chipset bus between the AM4/TR4 SoC and the chipset will be PCI-Express 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps), translating to double the bandwidth. It remains to be seen if the downstream PCIe lanes put out by the chipset are gen 4.0, too. Current 400-series chipsets continue to put out stale gen 2.0 lanes, compensated for by additional gen 3.0 lanes put out by the SoC. Sources also mention that ASMedia-supplied chipsets will only hit the market toward the end of 2019, which means AMD X570 could be the only 500-series chipset option between the mid-2019 launch of 3rd generation Ryzen, and late-2019. You should be able to run these processors on older socket AM4 motherboards via BIOS updates, though.

GIGABYTE Intros X299 Aorus Master Motherboard

GIGABYTE today announced its almost-flagship socket LGA2066 motherboard, the X299 Aorus Master. The Master brand-extension, if you'll recall, is positioned just a notch below the flagship Aorus Xtreme, which makes this board a successor to the X299 Aorus Gaming 7. The X299 Aorus Gaming 9 and Designare-EX remain the company's flagship LGA2066 products, until they're succeeded by a new Aorus Xtreme product. There's still plenty to go around with the new X299 Aorus Master, beginning with its updated design scheme that's in sync with the company's latest Z390 motherboard lineup. It ships with out-of-the-box support for Core X 9000-series processors. The board is wider than ATX, although not quite E-ATX. It draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX, two 8-pin EPS, and an optional 6-pin PCIe power. A 12-phase VRM powers the CPU, cooled by a 2-stage heatsink. Expansion slots include four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (x16/NC/x16/NC or x16/NC/x8/x8 or x8/x8/x8/x8). The DIMM and PCIe slots feature metal reinforcement.

Storage connectivity on the GIGABYTE X299 Aorus Master includes three M.2 slots with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 wiring, each with heatsinks; and eight SATA 6 Gbps ports. Networking includes a 2.5 GbE wired interface driven by Realtek Dragon 8125AG controller, a 1 GbE driven by Intel i219-V controller, and 802.11 ac + Bluetooth 5 interface driven by Intel 9260 WLAN card. USB connectivity includes four USB 3.1 gen 2 ports (two on the rear panel including a type-C, two by header), driven by a combination of ASMedia ASM1142 controller and the X299 PCH. The onboard audio solution is quite something. An ESS Sabre 9218 DAC (130 dBA SNR!) drives the main front + headphones channel with Ti Burr Brown OPA2111KP OPAMPs and WIMA capacitors; while a 120 dBA SNR Realtek ALC1220VB pulls the remaining channels. Manually-switchable dual-BIOS, 7-segment POST code readout, USB flash-back, and a boatload of other overclocker-friendly features complete the board. Expect it to be priced around USD $399.

ASMedia Readies ASM2824 PCIe Switch Anticipating a Rise in M.2 Slots

ASMedia is giving finishing touches to the ASM2824 PCI-Express gen 3.0 x24 switch. With half the fabric as the PLX PEX8747, the chip takes in PCI-Express 3.0 x8, and puts out four PCI-Express 3.0 x4 connections. In theory, this would let a motherboard designer create four M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 slots from 8 downstream PCIe lanes of the Intel Z390 chipset, saving the remaining PCIe lanes for onboard USB 3.1 controllers (preferably sourced from ASMedia itself), since Intel canned the older 14 nm version of the Z390, which was supposed to put out six 10 Gbps USB 3.1 gen 2 and ten 5 Gbps USB 3.1 gen 1 ports directly from the PCH.

With all four downstream slots populated, ASMedia promises NVMe RAID bandwidths of up to 6,500 MB/s, with some CDM numbers even crossing 6,700 MB/s. Then again, one has to take into account that the test platform probably had the ASM2824 wired to the CPU's PCIe root-complex, and not that of the chipset. Intel is yet to modernize the lousy DMI 3.0 chipset-bus between its latest processors and chipset, and is physically PCI-Express 3.0 x4, which is fundamentally outdated for the bandwidth-heavy interfaces of this generation, such as USB 3.1, M.2 NVMe, and even the upcoming SD Express. The ASM2824 is also a godsend for the AMD AM4 platform, which not only has the same PCI-Express 3.0 x4 chipset bus between the AM4 SoC and the X470 chipset, but also a poor downstream PCIe feature-set of the X470, with just 8 gen 2.0 lanes. Motherboard designers can wire out all of those lanes to an ASM2824 for up to 24 downstream lanes.

ASMedia Remains AMD Chipset & USB Partner, Increases Revenues By 44.7%

ASMedia Technology, a tech company that's best known for designing high speed controllers (most recently, USB 3.1 Gen2, and AMD's X370 chipset), has posted tremendous increases in revenue and profits. The Taiwanese company distributed cash dividends per share in the order of $0.21 in late 2017, after achieving revenues of roughly $102 million, up 44.7% YoY (Year over Year).

While ASMedia is one of the implied companies in the latest AMD nightmare (the suspiciously timed and apparently interest-driven CTS flaw disclosure), AMD is keeping with ASMedia for its X470 chipset design and production. Which was to be expected - even if AMD wanted to change partners or develop the chipset in-house, AMD's Ryzen 2000 series and the accompanying motherboards' release is impending. The company is expected to continue its strong growth on continued shipment of USB 3.1 controllers, adding USB 3.2 controllers to its portfolio, and increased profits derived from the development of AMD's X470 chipset.

CTS-Labs Responds to a TechPowerUp Technical Questionnaire

Yesterday, we had a very productive phone call with CTS-Labs, the firm behind the "AMD Flaws" critical security vulnerabilities exposé of the "Zen" microarchitecture. Our questions focus on the practicality of exploiting these vulnerabilities, and should provide more insight to the skepticism centered on needing admin privileges, flashing BIOS ROMs, and other localized hacks that would render any machine, not just "Zen" powered, vulnerable. Feel free to follow up with questions in the comments section, if we can help explain something.

CTS Labs Posts Some Clarifications on AMD "Zen" Vulnerabilities

CTS-Labs the research group behind the AMD "Zen" CPU vulnerabilities, posted an addendum to its public-release of the whitepaper, in an attempt to dispel some of the criticism in their presentation in the absence of technical details (which they shared with AMD and other big tech firms). In their clarification whitepaper, quoted below, they get into slightly more technical details on each of the four vulnerability classes.

HighPoint RocketU 1344A Guarantees Full Bandwidth USB 3.1 Ports

HighPoint announced the RocketU 1344A, a USB 3.1 gen 2 add-on card, which puts out four type-A ports. Its USP is guaranteed 10 Gbps bandwidth for each of the four ports at all times. A PLX PCI-Express gen 3.0 bridge chip segments a PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface into two gen 3.0 x2 connections to ASMedia-made 2-port USB 3.1 controllers. Each controller is fed with 20 Gbps of bus bandwidth, and hence the overhead on each port is minimized. This card is ideal for systems that don't support PCIe bifurcation. The company didn't reveal pricing.
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