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AMD B550 Motherboards to Restart AGESA with v2

Apparently, AMD will be taking a slightly confusing step with its new AGESA codes - at least for the B550 platform. A report via Hardwareluxx has AMD rebooting AGESA (the most basic firmware for your motherboard and chipset support that's a requirement for correct CPU and feature support) versions back to version 1.0.0.0, but with a catch. The new AGESA version that's supposed to allow for support for AMD's Zen 3 CPUs will be coded as ComboAM4 v2 1.0.0.0 - instead of the next version in the current AGESA nomenclature, 1.0.0.6. It is still unclear if this change only refers to AMD's B550 or if it will also move on to X570's next AGESA releases.

It's expected that new motherboards based on AMD's B550 chipset will start landing in June. For now, there's confirmation on at least two motherboards running with this V2 of AGESA: MSI's MAG B550 Tomahawk (ComboAM4 v2 1.0.0.0), and the Gigabyte B550 Aorus Master (ComboAM4v2 1.0.0.1). So if you're looking to use AMD's B550 motherboard (or even X570) with AMD's upcoming Zen 3 CPUs, make sure to read your motherboard manufacturers' release notes for each AGESA version, so that you install the correct one and avoid yourself a potential load of pain with a non-functioning AGESA for your shiny new Zen 3 CPU.

MediaTek Unveils 5G-Integrated Dimensity 1000+ Chip

MediaTek today announced enhancements to its Dimensity 5G chipset family with the Dimensity 1000+, an enhanced 5G-integrated chip with a number of leading technologies and upgrades for gaming, video and power-efficiency.

Dimensity 1000+ is based on the flagship performance of the Dimensity 1000 series and delivers a high-end, premium user experience. With years of accumulated experience in integrated chip technologies, MediaTek has made breakthroughs and innovations in all aspects and has become a pioneer in the 5G era.
MediaTek Dimensity 1000 SoC

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

Five AMD A520 Chipset Motherboards Listed by ASUS

ASUS has apparently begun listing motherboards on the as-of-yet-unreleased, as-of-yet-undetailed AMD A520 chipset. Lower in the chipset rung than AMD's X570 and B550 chipsets, the A520 is expected to not offer any dedicated PCIe 4.0 lanes by itself - at most, motherboards will support the same 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes offered by AMD's CPUs, with the rest I/O being PCIe 3.0-based in order to further cut platform and chipset costs.

All of the A520 chipset motherboards listed by ASUS seem to be in the mATX form-factor - which again makes sense, as having the most basic chipset in order to cut costs and then using the same PCB real-estate as more expensive chipset solutions doesn't seem like a wise choice. The listed motherboards are the
PRIME A520M-A; PRIME A520M-E; PRIME A520M-K; TUF GAMING A520M-A; and TUF GAMING A520M-PLUS. As you can see, these motherboards are set in the ASUS TUF and Prime product lines - there's no mention of any Strix-branded products.

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).

ASRock Enables Overclocking on Non-Z Motherboards for 10th Generation Non-K Comet Lake CPUs

Historically, Intel has separated its processors and chipsets that accompany them to overclockable and non-overclockable ones. That means that only the "K" CPUs can be overclocked. With the latest generation, only some parts of the lineup are K CPUs, like the Core i9-10900K, i7-10700K, i5-10600K, etc. Those processors could only be overclocked one put in motherboards based on "Z" chipset, like Z390 and Z490. However, it seems like ASRock has developed a new technology that will overclock non-K CPUs on non-Z motherboards, which is quite impressive.

Called the Base Frequency Boost (BFB) technology, it will allow for overclocking the non-K processors on chipsets like B460 and H470. How will that work you might wonder? Well, ASRock will take the TDP of the CPUs and make it run in the PL1 mode, which increases the processor TDP form 65 W and turns it into a 125 W TDP beast. This will, of course, be user selective and case dependent, meaning that if your cooling system can not handle that much heat coming out from the overclocked processors, it is unlikely that they will reach the peak clocks ASRock can target. You can check out the slide below:
ASRock Base Frequency Boost Technology

AMD "Matisse" and "Rome" IO Controller Dies Mapped Out

Here are the first detailed die maps of the I/O controller dies of AMD's "Matisse" and "Rome" multi-chip modules that make up the company's 3rd generation Ryzen and 2nd generation EPYC processor families, respectively, by PC enthusiast and VLSI engineer "Nemez" aka @GPUsAreMagic on Twitter, with underlying die-shots by Fitzchens Fitz. The die maps of the "Matisse" cIOD in particular give us fascinating insights to how AMD designed the die to serve both as a cIOD and as an external FCH (AMD X570 and TRX40 chipsets). At the heart of both these chips' design effort is using highly configurable SerDes (serializer/deserializers) that can work as PCIe, SATA, USB 3, or other high-bandwidth serial interfaces, using a network of fabric switches and PHYs. This is how motherboard designers are able to configure the chipsets for the I/O they want for their specific board designs.

The "Matisse" cIOD has two x16 SerDes controllers and an I/O root hub, along with two configurable x16 SerDes PHYs, while the "Rome" sIOD has four times as many SerDes controllers, along with eight times as many PHYs. The "Castle Peak" cIOD (3rd gen Ryzen Threadripper) disables half the SerDes resources on the "Rome" sIOD, along with half as many memory controllers and PHYs, limiting it to 4-channel DDR4. The "Matisse" cIOD features two IFOP (Infinity Fabric over Package) links, wiring out to the two "Zen 2" CCDs (chiplets) on the MCM, while the "Rome" sIOD features eight such IFOP interfaces for up to eight CCDs, along with IFIS (Infinity Fabric Inter-Socket) links for 2P motherboards. Infinity Fabric internally connects all components on both IOD dies. Both dies are built on the 12 nm FinFET (12LP) silicon fabrication node at GlobalFoundries.
Matisse cIOD Rome cIOD

AMD Ryzen 4000 Series "Vermeer" CPUs to be Compatible with B450 Motherboards

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 4000 series "Vermeer" lineup of CPUs based on the new Zen 3 core is slated to launch sometime in late 2020, and we have information about the chipset support of 4th generation of Ryzen CPUs. The laptop manufacturer XMG, known for its crazy Apex 15 laptop with 16 core AMD Ryzen 3950X CPU inside, has posted a Reddit thread about its new laptop. In the thread, XMG has listed specifications of the laptop, and in one point it mentions support for Ryzen 4000 series of CPUs. XMG has written that the B450 motherboards will be supporting the next generation CPUs simply by microcode updates AMD will push to OEMs. XMG uses the B450 chipset in its laptops, so they are presumably going to offer some configurations with Ryzen 4000 CPUs in the future. This information is good news for everybody who has a motherboard with a B450 chipset as they can get a bit more mileage out of it.
XMG Apex 15 Specifications

First Picture of AMD B550 Motherboard Appears

The B550 chipset has been absent for a while, meaning that mid-tier motherboard models were lacking and that space is about to be filled. So far, the only thing we got was a B550A chipset, which lacked proper support for PCIe 4.0 connection, based on the refreshed B450 chipset. The B550A supports only one PCIe 4.0 slot, the one connected directly to CPU, while the regular, non-A version is said to deliver proper PCIe 4.0 configuration. The first picture of AMD's upcoming B550 motherboard has appeared.

Thanks to the findings of VideoCardz, we have a picture of a B550 motherboard manufactured by SOYO, a Chinese motherboard manufacturer, and the brand behind Maxsun. Pictured below is a Micro-ATX format motherboard featuring two x16 PCIe 4.0 slots and one smaller, x1 slot. There are two DDR4 slots, along with M.2 PCIe 4.0 connector. Additionally, it has some interesting dragon-inspired masking as well.
AMD B550 Chipset Motherboard

Researchers Find Unfixable Vulnerability Inside Intel CPUs

Researchers have found another vulnerability Inside Intel's Converged Security and Management Engine (CSME). For starters, the CSME is a tiny CPU within a CPU that has access to whole data throughput and is dedicated to the security of the whole SoC. The CSME system is a kind of a black box, given that Intel is protecting its documentation so it can stop its copying by other vendors, however, researchers have discovered a flaw in the design of CSME and are now able to exploit millions of systems based on Intel CPUs manufactured in the last five years.

Discovered by Positive Technologies, the flaw is lying inside the Read-Only Memory (ROM) of the CSME. Given that the Mask ROM is hardcoded in the CPU, the exploit can not be fixed by a simple firmware update. The researchers from Positive Technologies describe it as such: "Unfortunately, no security system is perfect. Like all security architectures, Intel's had a weakness: the boot ROM, in this case. An early-stage vulnerability in ROM enables control over the reading of the Chipset Key and generation of all other encryption keys. One of these keys is for the Integrity Control Value Blob (ICVB). With this key, attackers can forge the code of any Intel CSME firmware module in a way that authenticity checks cannot detect. This is functionally equivalent to a breach of the private key for the Intel CSME firmware digital signature, but limited to a specific platform."

UNISOC Launches Next-Gen 5G SoC T7520 on 6 nm EUV Manufacturing Node

UNISOC, a leading global supplier of mobile communication and IoT chipsets, today officially launched its new-generation 5G SoC mobile platform - T7520. Using cutting-edge process technology, T7520 enables an optimized 5G experience with substantially enhanced AI computing and multimedia imaging processing capabilities while lowering power consumption.

T7520 is UNISOC's second-generation 5G smartphone platform. Built on a 6 nm EUV process technology and empowered by some of the latest design techniques, it offers substantially enhanced performance at a lower level of power consumption than ever.

GIGABYTE Lists AMD B550 and Intel Z490 Motherboards

Thanks to the findings of VideoCardz, we have information that GIGABYTE has listed its upcoming motherboards for AMD and Intel platforms. Starting with AMD's upcoming mid-range chipset, the B550 model is supposed to bring PCIe 4.0 connectivity options to lower-priced motherboard variants. So far, only high-end chipset versions like X570 had PCIe 4.0 support, while the mid-range option was lacking. GIGABYTE has prepared a total of six B550 AORUS models, along with a GAMING series which is supposed to be a tier below AORUS models. The B550 chipset will span all motherboard sizes, including ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX.

In the EEC listing, GIGABYTE also submitted Intel's upcoming Z490 motherboards for Comet Lake-S CPUs. In the listing, we see a total of 15 motherboards listed with an unusable entry. Again the W480 chipset appears, which is meant to power workstation motherboards. This chipset will go inside a new motherboard lineup called the "VISION" series. While we don't know what this new series brings, we know that both the workstation enabled W480 chipset and regular Z490 chipset will be a part of it.

ASRock Lists Z490 and H470 Motherboards in its Polychrome Sync Software

According to VideoCardz, ASRock has already listed Intel's upcoming lineup of motherboards in its Polychrome Sync software for controlling the RGB lighting of your motherboard. In the installed program files, ASRock displays several of the models that are a part of Intel's upcoming LGA1200-based Comet Lake-S 10th generation of CPUs. There are a total of nine Z490 motherboards and they are ASRock Z490 AQUA, Phantom Gaming 4, Phantom Gaming 4 SR, Phantom Gaming 6, Pro4, Steel Legend, Taichi, Z490M ITX AC, and Z490M Pro4.

When it comes to the cheaper, non-overclockable H470 chipset, there are two motherboards listed - H470 Steel Legend and H470M ITX AC. Additionally, perhaps one of the most interesting finds is the appearance of W480 chipset meant for workstation solutions. The motherboard using the new chipset is a model named W480 Creator, which should be a new addition to the consumer motherboard lineup.

Intel Rumored to be Courting GlobalFoundries for Some CPU Manufacturing

With its own silicon fabrication facilities pushed to their capacity limits, Intel is looking for third-party semiconductor foundries to share some of its supply load, and according to a WCCFTech report, its latest partner could be GlobalFoundries, which has a 14 nm-class fab in Upstate New York. If it goes through, the possible Intel-GloFo deal could see contract manufacturing commence within 2020.

GloFo's fab offers 14 nm FinFET and 12LPP, a refinement that's marketed as 12 nm. According to the report, Intel could use GloFo for manufacturing CPU dies, specifically its entry-level chips such as Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron. Intel is also known to shed its own manufacturing workload by contracting foundries for 14 nm core-logic (chipsets). In a bid to maximize 14 nm fab allocation for its CPUs, Intel also started making some of its 300-series chipsets on the older 22 nm process, which goes to show the company's appetite for 14 nm.

Intel 400-series Chipset Motherboards to Lack PCIe Gen 4.0, Launch Pushed to Q2

Intel's upcoming 400-series desktop chipset will lack support for PCI-Express gen 4.0. The motherboards will stick to gen 3.0 for both the main x16 PEG slots wired to the LGA1200 socket, and general purpose PCIe lanes from the PCH, according to a Tom's Hardware report. It was earlier expected that 400-series chipset motherboards will come with preparation for PCIe gen 4.0, so even if the upcoming 10th gen "Comet Lake" desktop processors lacked gen 4.0 root-complexes, the boards would be fully ready for the new bus standard in 11th gen "Rocket Lake" desktop processors.

10th gen "Comet Lake" desktop processors are built on 14 nm process, and implement Intel's current-gen CPU core design Intel has been implementing since 6th gen "Skylake." It's only with 11th gen "Rocket Lake" that the mainstream desktop platform could see a new CPU core design, with the company reportedly back-porting "Willow Cove" CPU cores to the 14 nm process. "Rocket Lake" is also expected to feature a small Gen12 iGPU with 32 execution units, and a new-gen uncore component that implements PCIe gen 4.0. PCIe gen 4.0 doubles bandwidth over gen 3.0, and while only a handful GPUs support it, the standard is made popular by a new generation of M.2 NVMe SSDs that are able to utilize the added bandwidth to push sequential transfer rates beyond M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 limitations.

EK Announces Quantum Momentum Chipset Waterblock for AORUS X570 Motherboards

EK, the European premium liquid cooling gear manufacturer, is releasing a unique chipset water block made for Aorus motherboards based on AMD X570 chipset - the EK-Quantum Momentum Chipset Aorus X570. The EK-Quantum Momentum Chipset Aorus X570 water block completely replaces the PCH (chipset) heatsink and the small fan which is the primary source of the noise. This water block-based solution removes a moving part, thus providing a more long term solution with 0 noise and far superior thermal performance.

This chipset block is specifically made for the Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite, Gigabyte X570 Aorus Ultra and Gigabyte X570 Aorus Master motherboards. The EK-Quantum Momentum Chipset Aorus X570 water block is made in Slovenia, Europe and is available for pre-order through EK Webshop and Partner Reseller Network. This Quantum Line water block will start shipping on the 22nd of January 2020 for €39.99.

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.
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