Over the past few weeks, AMD has been firefighting a controversy with the PC enthusiast community involving its 3rd generation Ryzen processors. The issue people are reporting is that these processors are rarely hitting the advertised maximum boost frequency, not even for a single core, in a single-threaded workload like SuperPi that stresses out a core and doesn't scale across cores. It has been generally acceptable for a modern multi-core processor to apply its highest advertised boost clock speed to at least one of its cores and scale to lower boost frequency on other cores as a workload spreads across more cores.
The situation came to a head when prominent professional overclocker Der8auer published the results of a survey spanning thousands of respondents, from which only a single digit percentage reported that their 3rd gen Ryzen processors reach the advertised boost frequencies at stock settings. This prompted AMD to announce that it is working on a fix in the form of an updated AGESA microcode that will be distributed by motherboard manufacturers as BIOS updates specific to their models. The AGESA version at the heart of this mini review is ComboAM4 184.108.40.206 ABBA. Leading manufacturers have started pushing out beta BIOS updates for some of their models, and ASRock provided us with a beta version of such a BIOS for our ASRock X570 Taichi motherboard.
AMD detailed AGESA 220.127.116.11 ABBA in three aspects; an improved boost algorithm, changes to the processor's idle-state behavior, and an updated monitoring SDK. The boost algorithm is now more aggressive across the board and adds 20 to 25 MHz to the maximum boost frequency of a 3rd generation Ryzen processor. AMD believes this should cover the vast majority of users provided they're testing with workloads that actually max out a single core (while leaving others untouched), such as SuperPi, PCMark 10, or even real-world application such as a single instance of LAME, or a single web-browser process. AMD also refined the processor's idle-state behavior to disregard "intermittent OS and application background noise" seeking the processor to put up elevated boost states in response to workloads that don't really need them (such as video playback, hardware monitoring apps, chat clients, etc.). AMD also announced a late-September release of the new AMD Monitoring SDK, so software developers can make their apps correctly monitor AMD Ryzen processors.
In this mini review, we are testing the flagship Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core processor on our ASRock X570 Taichi motherboard with the latest 2.10 beta BIOS firmware that encapsulates AGESA 18.104.22.168ABBA to test whether our processor reaches its advertised maximum boost clock speed of 4.60 GHz, whether there are changes to the spread of boost frequencies under a multi-threaded workload, and how this change affects performance across our selection of 31 CPU tests and 10 games, with the game tests spanning three resolutions.