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AMD AGESA 1.0.0.3ABBA Detailed, Fixes Zen2 Boost Issues

AMD is giving final touches to an AGESA microcode update that fixes the issue of underwhelming Precision Boost behavior on its 3rd generation Ryzen processors. Version ComboAM4 1.0.0.3ABBA is being pushed to motherboard manufacturers to integrate with their UEFI firmware, and one such dispatch to MSI got leaked to the web on ChipHell. Tom's Hardware grabbed the BIOS as it was compatible with the MEG X570 Creator motherboard they have, and tested the Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3700X with it.

In its testing, posted in a mini-review article, Tom's Hardware observed that with AGESA 1.0.0.3ABBA, their 3700X sample was correctly hitting 4.40 GHz across the board at stock settings. With the older 1.0.0.3AB, it would touch 4.375 GHz. The Ryzen 9 3900X behaves slightly differently with this microcode. Tom's Hardware was able to raise its peak boost frequency from 4.575 GHz to 4.625 GHz (above the 4.60 GHz specification), but in certain tests such as POV-Ray and Cinebench, its boost frequency decays down to 4.250 GHz. Overall, the reviewer tabulated improved performance on the chips with the new microcode. The new microcode also apparently changes the processor's thermal thresholds.

Update (10/9) AMD posted an elaborate release detailing the AGESA 1.0.0.3ABBA update.

AMD's Latest AGESA Update Removes PCIe 4.0 Support from Pre-X570 Motherboards

AMD's latest AGESA update, which is being seeded to motherboard manufacturers, culls efforts to implement support for PCIe 4.0 in boards not carrying the latest X570 chipset. Some motherboard manufacturers had enabled support for the new standard on existing B450 and X470 motherboards - some with limited support, as was the case on some of ASUS' motherboards, others with full support. However, these efforts from motherboard manufacturers went against AMD's strategy with their X570 platform - all in all, these "rogue additions" reduced one additional feature of new X570 motherboards over their older counterparts.

The new AGESA code carries the part number AM4 1.0.0.3 ABB, and will likely be reflected in manufacturers' release notes for new BIOS versions that incorporate the code - and remove added PCIe 4.0 functionality. Other changes in this AGESA code release include fixes for Destiny 2 gamers' woes, which were having a hard time getting the game to run properly on Ryzen 3000 processors. If you're an avid Destiny 2 player and want PCIe 4.0 support, you'll likely be reminded of Rick and Morty's pickle episode. If not, you can always defer these AM4 1.0.0.3 ABB updates, if your system is behaving properly.

MSI AMD 400-series and 300-series MAX Motherboards Now Available

MSI, the world's leading motherboard brand, is proud to announce AMD AM4 300- and 400- series MAX motherboards. Since AMD Ryzen 3000 series processors launched and have attracted public attention all over the world, AM4 socket compatibility has become a contentious topic for people who are interested in buying Ryzen CPUs. Currently AMD has 300-, 400-, and X570 platforms with the same AM4 socket, which might cause confusion. End users might feel a bit overwhelmed in terms of choosing a either a new CPU or a new motherboard or both a new CPU and a new motherboard.

To make everything simple, MAX motherboards provide maximum compatibility for AM4 socket. This means users do not have to worry about the collocation of CPU and motherboard. We have clear information both on the packaging and product page if customers are still confused.

RX 5700 XT Navi Crosses 2.2 GHz Thanks to Custom SoftPowerPlay Table Registry-Mod

Igor Wallossek of Igor'sLAB Germany postulated a method by which an AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT "Navi" graphics card can be made to run at clock-speeds of over 2.20 GHz (engine clock), thanks to custom SoftPowerPlay Tables (SPPTs) deployed by modifications to the Windows Registry. The AMD Radeon driver is designed such that it reads PowerPlay tables from the video-BIOS of an RX 5700-series graphics card the first time it's detected, and writes it onto the Windows Registry for quick-reference. This is called a SoftPowerPlay Table or SPPT. It's the modification of SPPTs that allows you to manipulate the power limits of RX 5700-series graphics cards, and achieve higher engine clocks than the 2150 MHz engine-clock limit of the RX 5700 XT, which is set at just 1850 MHz for the RX 5700.

Wallossek's mod involves preparing your Windows Registry with a driver cleaner such as DDU, downloading and applying Registry files for various new power-limit targets you want. The table below details the various power-limit and clock headroom on offer from each kind of registry file. There's also a registry file that cleans up your Windows Registry of any SPPTs, if you decide to roll-back your mod. You can inspect a registry file by opening it in a plaintext viewer such as Notepad. Find links to the SPPT mods, and the Registry Cleanup in the source link below. You can also watch a video presentation by Wallossek in German language here. You make any changes to your machine at your own risk, be sure to have proper custom cooling for your graphics card.

ASUS Begins Enabling Limited PCIe Gen 4.0 on AMD 400-series Chipset Motherboards

ASUS believes that PCI-Express gen 4.0 support on older socket AM4 motherboards based on the AMD 400-series chipset is technically possible, even if discouraged by AMD. The company's latest series of motherboard BIOS updates that expose PCIe Gen 4 toggle in the PCIe settings, does in fact enable PCIe gen 4.0 to all devices that are directly wired to the SoC. These would be the PCI-Express x16 slots meant for graphics, and one of the M.2 slots that has PCIe x4 wiring to the SoC. Below is a list of motherboards scored by Chinese tech publication MyDrivers, which details the extent of PCIe gen 4.0 support across a number of ASUS motherboards based on the X470 and B450 chipsets.

AMD apparently did not explicitly block PCIe gen 4.0 for older chipsets. It merely suggested to motherboard manufacturers not to enable it, since the newer AMD 500-series motherboards are built to new PCB specifications that ensure PCIe gen 4.0 signal-integrity and stability. ASUS wants to leave it to users to decide if they want gen 4.0. If their machines are unstable, they can choose to limit PCIe version to gen 3.0 in their BIOS settings. Among other things, AMD's specifications for 500-series chipset motherboards prescribe PCBs with more than 4 layers, for optimal PCIe and memory wiring. Many of the motherboards on ASUS' list, such as the TUF B450 Pro Gaming, use simple 4-layer PCBs.

Reports of Ryzen 3000 High Idle Voltage Exaggerated, a Case of the "Observer Effect"

With AMD's 3rd generation Ryzen processors finally falling into the hands of PC enthusiasts, many early-adopters are taking to tech communities such as ours, to share their experiences with others. A trend appears to be emerging of users reporting higher-than-usual voltages for these processors when idling. AMD investigated this phenomenon, and declared this to be a non-issue. Apparently, most modern CPU monitoring utilities cause what is known as "the observer effect:" the process of measuring the processor's load itself causes load on the processor.

In case of the Ryzen "Matisse" processors, monitoring software appear to be polling each processor core for load by sending it instruction at a high rate of speed - sending them a workload of 20 ms every 200 ms. This causes the processor's embedded firmware to think that the cores are being subjected to workload, and it responds by increasing the clock-speeds, and proportionately voltages of all CPU cores. Monitoring software poll each CPU core, and so core voltages are raised across the chip.

MSI Scampers to Launch New AMD 400-series Motherboards with 256Mb BIOS Chips

Our Monday story chronicled how MSI inadvertently erred in giving many of its AMD 400-series chipset motherboards 128 Mbit (16-megabyte) SPI flash ROM chips instead of larger 256 Mbit (32-megabyte) ones, which nearly jeopardized the company's "Zen 2" support deployment, forcing it to greatly thin its motherboard firmware feature-set, and break SATA RAID support on many of its boards. To be fair to MSI, the company may not have anticipated the AGESA microcode growing tremendously in size with its latest ComboAM4 1.0.0.3-series. We are now hearing from Polish tech publication PurePC that MSI has scrambled to remedy this by re-releasing many of its AMD 400-series chipset motherboards with larger 256 Mbit SPI flash ROM chips.

The PurePC report states that MSI will brand the revised motherboards "MAX" in the product name (eg: B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC MAX, B450M Bazooka MAX, etc.), although we don't know if the new model names will have the company's latest MEG/MPG/MAG prefixes. The 256 Mbit SPI flash ROM chip allows MSI to cram in AGESA 1.0.0.3a, which lets you use 3rd generation Ryzen processors to their full capabilities (barring PCIe gen 4.0 on these motherboards of course). More importantly, the larger ROM chip allows MSI to have AGESA 1.0.0.3a without sacrificing on its feature-rich Click BIOS 5 UEFI setup program, SATA RAID module, or losing support for any of the socket AM4 processors.

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.

ASUS Provides BIOS updates addressing MDS vulnerabilities, ZombieLoad, RIDL, and Fallout

ASUS is aware that a new sub-class of speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities in Intel CPUs, called Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS), also known as ZombieLoad, RIDL, and Fallout, may allow information disclosure. Intel states that selected 8th and 9th Generation Intel Core processors, as well as the 2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor family, are not vulnerable to MDS. If you are using one of these processors, no further action is necessary.

For other Intel processors, ASUS is working closely with Intel to provide a solution in a forthcoming BIOS update. We recommend owners of affected products update both the BIOS and operating system as soon as these mitigations are available. Please find our first-wave model list below and download the appropriate BIOS update from the ASUS Support website. More details, including affected systems, will be added to this document as they become available.

BIOSTAR Releases 3rd Gen Ryzen Support BIOS Updates for AM4 Motherboards

BIOSTAR,a leading manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and storage devices offers piece of mind for its customers, announcing the BIOSTAR AMD AM4 300-series and 400-series motherboardswill be compatible with upcoming 3rd Gen AMD RYZEN CPUs. BIOSTAR's engineering team have been working relentlessly prior to the availability of the upcoming CPUs to ensure BIOSTAR products keep their promise of ensuring customers get the best value without worrying about future upgrades.

Among the motherboard models eligible for BIOS update are: B350ET2, B350GT3, B350GT5, B350GTN, B450GT3, X370GT3, X370GT5, X370GT7, X370GTN, X470GT8, X470GTN, A320MD PRO, A320MH PRO, TA320-BTC, TB350-BTC, A320MY-Q7, A320MH, B45M2, B450MHC, B450MH, and Hi-Fi B350S1. You should be able to find the BIOS updates in the downloads section of the product pages of these motherboards on the BIOSTAR website.

ASUS Reveals Listing of Motherboards, Chipsets Receiving Update for Next-gen Ryzen; A-Series Absent

ASUS today has posted a full listing of the motherboards that are receiving BIOS updates to allow for full compatibility with AMD's upcoming Ryzen 3000 series CPUs. These range across the B350, X370, B450, and X470 chipsets, with everything from ROG to TUF to Prime-branded motherboards receiving the support update. Conspicuously absent, though, are ASUS' A-series motherboards, based on the A320 chipset - despite it supporting the same electrical load as its B350 counterpart.

An ASUS remark claiming that "new models to be listed" gives some hope, but there have been unofficial rumors of A-series-based motherboards not supporting AMD's latest CPUs - and that ASUS claim could well be directed to some unlisted motherboards between the already mentioned chipsets.

MSI Issues Clarification on Next-Gen AMD CPU Support on 300-series Motherboards

It has come to our attention that MSI Customer Support has regrettably misinformed an MSI customer with regards to potential support for next-gen AMD CPUs on the MSI X370 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM motherboard. Through this statement we want clarify the current situation.

At this point, we are still performing extensive testing on our existing lineup of 300- and 400-series AM4 motherboards to verify potential compatibility for the next-gen AMD Ryzen CPUs. To be clear: Our intention is to offer maximum compatibility for as many MSI products as possible. Towards the launch of the next-gen AMD CPUs, we will release a compatibility list of MSI AM4 motherboards. Below is a full list of upcoming BIOS versions which include compatibility for the next-gen AMD APUs for our 300-Series and 400-Series AM4 motherboards based on the latest AMD Combo PI version 1.0.0.0. These BIOS versions are expected to be released in May this year.

BIOSTAR Intel 300 Series Motherboards Ready for the New Stepping of 9th Generation Intel Core Processors

BIOSTAR today announced that their entire 300 series motherboards have a BIOS update available that brings immediate, drop-in compatibility with Intel's new 9th generation processors. What kind of update this new stepping (which updates the old P0 stepping to the new R0) brings is unclear - Intel hasn't officially said what this change introduces at the silicon level. TDP fixes, clock increases, fixing mere errata in the CPU ID, or even some other silicon-level changes - these are all fair game for such a nebulous release. Look after the break for the entire list of updated BIOSTAR motherboards.

GIGABYTE Upgrades 300 Series BIOS for Upcoming Intel 9th Gen New Stepping

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, today released the newest 300 series motherboards BIOS to fully support the newest Intel 9th Gen. Core processors with new stepping. The updates prevent the inability to boot the system during installation of the CPUs, providing full support for the next generation CPUs and ensuring that users can upgrade their processors without compatibility issues.

In Q2, Intel is set to launch new 9th Gen. Core processors with new stepping and motherboard manufacturers will upgrade their BIOS to improve the compatibility of their motherboards with these new processors. GIGABYTE has already upgraded all BIOS at first notice and uploaded the newest updates and all related information to its official website so that users can conveniently and successfully upgrade the BIOS for their GIGABYTE 300 series motherboards. With professional validation and testing carried forth by GIGABYTE engineers, the newest BIOS updates enhance compatibility with these new processors so that users can maximize performance with excellent system stability.
DOWNLOAD: GIGABYTE Intel 300-series Motherboard BIOS Updates.

ASRock Rolls Out Intel 300-series Motherboard BIOS Updates to Support New CPU Stepping

ASRock has released BIOS updates for all Z390/H370/Q370/B365/B360/H310 series motherboards to support the soon to be released new stepping 9th Generation Intel Core processors. The latest BIOS updates are available for download now from our website or simply update through ASRock APP Shop. New processors are scheduled to launch in Q2, 2019, the latest BIOS for each motherboard are listed as below. BIOS updates for more models will be added soon.

Intel Readies New Stepping of 9th Gen Core Processors

Intel is readying a new stepping of 9th generation Core processors, which could require motherboard BIOS updates. ASUS released a statement in which it mentions that Intel is preparing to launch processors based on the new stepping of "Coffee Lake Refresh" silicon from Q2-2019. It goes on to say that BIOS updates have been released for its entire line of Intel 300-series chipset motherboards for supporting the new stepping. The company doesn't mention what the stepping ID is, or what's different.

The statement reads: "ASUS has released BIOS updates for all 300 series motherboards, adding support for the forthcoming 9th Generation Intel Core processors based on new stepping. These processors are scheduled for launch in Q2, 2019. The latest BIOS updates are available for download now from the ASUS website." You can find these updated BIOS ROMs on the product page of your motherboard on ASUS website.

AMD Radeon VII Has No UEFI Support

In what is turning out to be a massive QA oversight by AMD, people who bought retail Radeon VII graphics cards report that their cards don't support UEFI, and that installing the card in their machines causes their motherboard to engage CSM (compatibility support module), a key component of UEFI firmware that's needed to boot the machine with UEFI-unaware hardware (such as old storage devices, graphics cards, NICs, etc.,).

To verify this claim, we put the stock video BIOS of our Radeon VII sample in a hex editor, and what we found out startled us. The BIOS completely lacks UEFI support, including a GOP (graphics output protocol) driver. A GOP driver is a wafer-thin display driver that runs basic display functions on your GPU during the pre-boot environment. Without UEFI support for the graphics card (i.e. with CSM running), Windows 10 cannot engage Secure Boot. Since UEFI Secure Boot is a requirement for Microsoft Windows 10 Logo certification, we are having doubts whether AMD can really claim "Windows 10 compatible" for Radeon VII, at least until a BIOS update is available.

MSI Goofup Unlocks Overclocking on AMD Athlon 200GE

MSI late November released BIOS updates for its entire range of socket AM4 motherboards, mainly to include AGESA 1.0.0.6, which improves memory compatibility. The updates also pack various motherboard model-specific fixes. Apparently there has been a goof-up with this update (not in a bad way, though). The latest BIOS updates "accidentally" unlock the otherwise locked Athlon 200GE dual-core processor with integrated graphics.

No, you won't get more cores or iGPU stream processors, but the base-clock multiplier letting you easily overclock the processor is now unlocked. This adds value to the $55 processor, given that competing Celeron and Pentium Gold SKUs are overpriced in the market these days. In their overclocking adventures with the 200GE paired with a MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC motherboard, TechSpot observed that the chip (which is clocked at 3.2 GHz by default) wouldn't POST beyond 3.90 GHz, and that you need vCore at 1.4 V to sustain even 3.90 GHz. They found 3.80 GHz at 1.35 V to be 100% stable (an 18.75% overclock). The memory clocks are still restricted to DDR4-2666, although you can still play with timings.

New NVFlash Released With Turing Support

With the latest release of NVIDIA's NVFlash, version 5.513.0, users can now read and write the BIOS on Turing based graphics cards. This includes the RTX 2080 Ti, 2080, and 2070. While this may seem mundane at first, due to the different power limits between graphics cards, there is some hope that cross flashing of the BIOS could result in tangible performance gains.

DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA NVFlash v5.513.0

EVGA Announces Availability of the X299 Micro ATX 2 Motherboard

The X299 MICRO ATX 2 is a reimagined mATX board designed to support the power, performance, and cooling necessary to power Intel's i5/i7/i9 CPU's for the X299 Chipset. With a 14 Phase power design, a thick VRM heatsink/fan, two 8 pin EPS power connectors, an additional 6 pin PCIe power connector, and external BCLK, this motherboard was born for the enthusiast desiring maximum power in a small form factor. The X299 MICRO ATX 2 supports current storage standards, including M.2 NVMe, Intel Optane, Intel VROC and SATA 6Gb/s to give you a blazing fast access to your data, while Intel Dual-Band WIFI/BT and an Intel i219V Gigabit NIC Keeps you connected.

ASUS Releasing 9th Gen Core Supporting BIOS Updates

ASUS announced that it is releasing motherboard BIOS updates that add 9th generation Core "Whiskey Lake" processor compatibility for almost its entire Intel 300-series chipset motherboard family. This includes models based on H310, B360, Q370, and H370 chipsets, and not just the top Z370. Intel is expected to debut its 9th generation Core processor family with three SKUs later this year: the Core i9-9900K, the Core i7-9700K, and the Core i5-9600K. The tables below list motherboard models alongside the minimum BIOS version you'll need for "Whiskey Lake" compatibility. You'll find your BIOS in the "support" tab of the product page of your motherboard on ASUS website.

GIGABYTE Optimizes Z370, H370, B360, H310 Motherboards Ahead Of Intel 9000 CPUs' Debut

GIGABYTE has announced via a news post on its official website that it will be offering BIOS updates for its motherboards which bring support for Intel's upcoming 9000-series CPUs. Much like MSI did, GIGABYTE's engineering teams have developed BIOS updates for the Z370, H370, B360, H310 motherboards to provide the best support for Intel's next-gen CPUs - again, with no information on core-count support at all.

The newest BIOS updates are now available on the official GIGABYTE website for users to download and upgrade their systems. GIGABYTE has pledged to continue to release new BIOS updates for the best system performance and stability.

MSI to Release BIOS Updates that Bring 9000 Series Compatibility to Z370 Motherboards

MSI has put up a news item announcing support for Intel's 9000 series CPUs on their Z370 motherboards. The announcement has, in the meantime, been promptly pulled, for whatever reason. Alongside the announcement for MSI's Z370 motherboards being "Optimized for Intel 9000 processors", the company released a list of 15 motherboard models in its lineup that sport the Z370 chipset which will receive BIOS updates to bring them up to speed, support-wise, with Intel's 9000 series.

Of course, there's a small hitch here: the wording in the promotional image isn't quite clear-cut in regards to exactly up to which core counts will actually be supported. The promo image speaks of "next-gen six-core CPU support", which may mean that only up to six-core, i5-tier Intel 9000 series CPUs will be supported, with the 8-core, 16-thread i9 lineup being a premium, Z390-only product. That would certainly play into Intel's usual way of doing things - they do have to justify the introduction of a new chipset, anyway. We'll have to wait and see - likely for some time, if the latest Intel roadmaps are any indication.

Custom BIOSes Harden Intel X58 Motherboards Against Meltdown and Spectre

Legendary soft-modder Regeneration released a vast collection of motherboard BIOS updates for socket LGA1366 motherboards based on Intel X58 Express chipset, because motherboard manufacturers have abandoned the 10-year old platform (yeah, it's been a decade since "Nehalem"!). The BIOSes have been made by transplanting the latest micro-code updates by Intel, which run all the way back to the 1st generation Core micro-architecture.

These are unofficial BIOSes which you use at your own risk, but they've been made by a person with more than two decades of fanfare in the PC enthusiast community, famous for unofficial, performance-enhancing NGO VGA drivers from his now defunct blog NGOHQ.com. Find the links to the BIOS of your X58 motherboard in this thread on TechPowerUp Forums (hosted externally).

Core i7-8700K Overclocked to 7.34 GHz (3c/3t) on Z270 Chipset, Bags SuperPi Record

German professional overclocker Dancop got the Intel Core i7-8700K processor to work on an ASUS ROG Maximus IX Apex (Z270) motherboard, something that's not supposed to work. CPU-Z screenshots seem to confirm this unholy union between the 6-core "Coffee Lake" processor and a 200-series chipset motherboard, using a custom "0084" BIOS dated 11th June, 2018. Dancop then proceeded to overclock the chip to 7344 MHz using extreme cooling, and 2x 8 GB (dual-channel) DDR4-4000 memory. This bench-stable build was then used to bag a SuperPi 32M world-record.

There's a rather big catch, though. Half the cores on the i7-8700K were disabled, and so was HyperThreading (not that it's relevant to SuperPi). The 3-core/3-thread chip was still bench-stable at 7344 MHz, crunching SuperPi 32M in a world-record 7.609 seconds. The clock speed was achieved by dialing up the multiplier to 73.0x, with the base-clock probably untouched, at 100.61 MHz (with the +0.61 MHz probably being variance). Supporting this clock was a blistering core voltage of 1.984 V. A liquid-nitrogen evaporator was used to tame the CPU and motherboard VRM. Find the validation in the source link below.
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