An AMD B550A chipset has been spotted on HP’s website. Listed alongside the Ryzen 7 3700X and the unannounced Radeon RX 5300 XT, the B550 chipset will surely replace B450 motherboards introduced with 2nd Gen Ryzen processors… but will it offer anything new? And what’s that ‘A’ all about?
Back when Ryzen 3000 processors first launched, AMD announced a single new chipset to compliment Zen 2, X570. This new and improved chipset brings with its PCIe 4.0 support, the first of its kind in the desktop world, and was produced in-house by AMD. All other chipsets would instead by produced by ASMedia, the company responsible for all other AMD Ryzen chipset to date.
The first of which appears to be the B550 chipset, which has appeared under “B550A” within an unannounced HP desktop PC’s specs list (spotted by ComputerBase). If anything like its predecessors, B550 should offer a moderate feature set not all that dissimilar from X570 where it counts – a welcome reprieve for PC builders out there hoping to snag a new mobo and CPU combo without breaking the bank on the high-end X570 chipset.
But this is already possible today thanks to backwards compatibility between Ryzen 3000 and 400- and some 300-series motherboards. So what will be the benefit of the new chipset over B450?
We suspect very little due to the timing of ASMedia’s launches. B550 and A520 chipsets are expected before the end of 2019. However, according to a report from DigiTimes earlier this year, the third-party manufacturer will only have the latest controllers suitable for PCIe 4.0 ready to ship beginning 2020.
Moreover, we would guess this is an easy marketing win for AMD’s OEMs and partners, who will be able to refresh their mid-tier and budget boards with shiny boxes. AMD’s opted for this approach in the past with the Polaris 500-series graphics cards receiving a new lick of paint with the 600-series (solely a rebadge job).
What ASMedia hopes to achieve with B550A before its new controllers are ready remains unclear. One theory we’ve been throwing around may explain the ‘A’ in B550A, which could perhaps be the discerning factor between PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0 motherboards. Or rather OEM rebadge and fresh client chipset.
There’s always the possibility that ASMedia could be ahead of schedule, or perhaps B550 was never going to support PCIe 4.0 to begin with… but what would be the point in that?