Oh AMD, you flip-floppy old fish (don’t worry, we love you). Only a couple of weeks ago we reported that B450 and X470 chipsets won’t support Ryzen 4000 processors, and AMD confirmed this in a community blog post. But the company has since decided that it will, in fact, provide Zen 3 support for these chipsets.
AMDOfficial’s Reddit post, titled The ‘Zen 3’ architecture is coming to AMD X470 and B450, says that in the wake of its previous announcement (that B450 and X470 chipsets won’t support Zen 3), it listened to the public response and changed direction accordingly.
The company said “we closely reviewed your feedback on that news: we watched every video, read every comment, and saw every tweet. We hear that many of you hoped for a longer upgrade path. We hear your hope that AMD B450 and X470 chipsets would carry you into the ‘Zen 3’ era”.
And, after reviewing user feedback, AMD said it “will enable an upgrade path for B450 and X470 customers that adds support for next-gen AMD Ryzen Processors with the ‘Zen 3’ architecture”.
There was plenty of backlash against the original decision to lack support for Zen 3 on older generation motherboard chipsets, especially since AMD had previously seemed to push the AM4 platform as something to carry compatibility forwards through 2020. Having Zen 3 on only 5-series motherboards appeared to run counter to this commitment to forwards compatibility (or backwards compatibility, from the perspective of the CPU).
And so, despite technical challenges, AMD has again committed to this forwards compatibility, at least for the remainder of the AM4 socket’s lifecycle. There are, of course and as always, rumours abound, with many online leakers claiming Zen 3 support for even earlier chipsets like certain X370 motherboards – but none of this from AMD’s mouth.
For AMD’s official words, here’s how it says the upgrade path is expected to work for customers of B450 and X470 motherboards:
- “We will develop and enable our motherboard partners with the code to support Zen 3-based processors in select beta BIOSes for AMD B450 and X470 motherboards.
- These optional BIOS updates will disable support for many existing AMD Ryzen Desktop Processor models to make the necessary ROM space available.
- The select beta BIOSes will enable a one-way upgrade path for AMD Ryzen Processors with Zen 3, coming later this year. Flashing back to an older BIOS version will not be supported.
- To reduce the potential for confusion, our intent is to offer BIOS download only to verified customers of 400 Series motherboards who have purchased a new desktop processor with Zen 3 inside. This will help us ensure that customers have a bootable processor on-hand after the BIOS flash, minimizing the risk a user could get caught in a no-boot situation.
- Timing and availability of the BIOS updates will vary and may not immediately coincide with the availability of the first “Zen 3”-based processors.
- This is the final pathway AMD can enable for 400 Series motherboards to add new CPU support. CPU releases beyond Zen 3 will require a newer motherboard.
- AMD continues to recommend that customers choose an AMD 500 Series motherboard for the best performance and features with our new CPUs.”
So, in order to run a Zen 3 processor on a B450 or X470 motherboard, you’ll have to have purchased a new Zen 3 processor, and will then have the option to update your BIOS for Zen 3 support once these updates roll out. And these BIOS updates will disable support for many existing Ryzen processors, in order to provide ROM space for the new Zen 3 firmware. Seems a fair compromise to me – and if not fair, then necessary.