AMD Converting Parts of Epyc to X570 Chipset, Dropping ASMedia

By Published January 18, 2019 at 1:30 pm

CES posed the unique opportunity to speak with engineers at various board manufacturers and system integrators, allowing us to get first-hand information as to AMD’s plans for the X570 chipset launch. We already spoke of the basics of X570 in our initial AMD CES news coverage, primarily talking about the launch timing challenges and PCIe 4.0 considerations, but can now expand on our coverage with new information about the upcoming Ryzen 3000-series chipset for Zen2 architecture desktop CPUs.

Thus far, the information we have obtained regarding Ryzen 3000 points toward a likely June launch month, probably right around Computex, with multiple manufacturers confirming the target. AMD is officially stating “mid-year” launch, allowing some leniency for changes in scheduling, but either way, Ryzen 3000 will launch in about 5 months.

The biggest point of consideration for launch has been whether AMD wants to align its new CPUs with an X570 release, which is presently the bigger hold-up of the two. It seems likely that AMD would want to launch both X570 motherboards and Ryzen 3000 CPUs simultaneously, despite the fact that the new CPUs will work with existing motherboards provided they’ve received a BIOS update.

All of that’s in our first video. Here’s the new information that we obtained from contacts close to product development:

  • The previous AMD chipsets were made by ASMedia, which introduced some early challenges in development for the 1000-series Ryzen parts. For the new series of chipsets, our understanding is that AMD will be designing the silicon itself rather than tapping ASMedia for assistance.
  • AMD is migrating some of its Epyc IO down to X570, making updates for Ryzen 3000 CPUs
  • The X570 chipset will run at about 15W, rather than 6-8W for the X470 chipset. This will not impact chipset heatsink requirements in any meaningful way, as the chipsets can present run on air, but most manufacturers stick an overkill heatsink on the chipset just for looks. It’s more noteworthy because the X570 chipset will be capable of more throughput (and will run hotter). PCIe 4.0 is part of this potential.
  • We aren’t yet clear on details of PCIe 4.0 out of the chipset. Some of our sources have indicated that the PCH will likely only deliver PCIe Gen3 to the PCIe slots, but that doesn’t say anything about NVMe or M.2 compatibility. We know that PCIe 4.0 will come out of the CPU and at least drive GPUs, but the bigger benefit of PCIe 4.0 will be in I/O devices, so we suspect that X570 will accommodate PCIe Gen4 in some capacity. Again, this is where we are least clear and where our sources conflicted the most. AMD is still determining final specs of the X570 chipset.
  • AMD is looking to launch its B550 chipset roughly one quarter after X570 – that’s probably going to be third quarter, but it’ll depend on X570 gets hit with a delay. The X570 timeline is currently up in the air, whereas Ryzen 3000 should be ready by June. Ryzen 3000’s launch will be dependent upon AMD’s strategy for its chipset and whether the chipset faces challenges.

As for the significance of PCIe Gen4, there isn’t much for video card usage on desktop PCs. The biggest use case is going to be for Gen4 allocation to SSDs and NVMe devices, where increased bandwidth will actually enable higher speed transactions. Benefit to the GPUs will be relegated to a reduction of lane requirement to achieve the same performance – x8 will equate x16 performance on Gen3, but obviously require half the lanes, and that has value on its own. GPUs don’t really bump against the PCIe Gen3 x16 limits right now, and rarely hit the x8 limits, as we recently illustrated in our dual RTX 2080 Ti testing

And just to recap what we already reported in our initial news video, we expect that some motherboard manufacturers may enable backwards compatibility for PCIe Gen4 on existing X470 or similar boards. There are two angles to this:

  • With a BIOS update and a Ryzen 3000 CPU, X470 could theoretically support PCIe Gen4, as the existing pins and traces are capable of handling the bandwidth, it’s just the CPU that needs to be present
  • The downside, however, is that the endpoints may need electrical tweaks that will exist on X570 boards, but not X470. It is extremely unlikely that board manufacturers will go back and update old platforms and then mass produce them, and instead more likely that those manufacturers will transition to X570 for these updates. Because the electrical wiring on X470 boards won’t be updated for PCIe Gen4, it is possible that boards could encounter some transmission or stability issues with display-out on Gen4, according to our engineering contacts. Whether this happens will depend on how well the existing X470 boards are designed with regard to PCIe trace routing.

That’s what we know for now. Not much that’s concrete regarding PCIe Gen4.0 on a chipset-level, but release dates and changes in design and manufacturing are firming-up in detail.

Please note that, although we have vetted these sources, they may not be fully privvy to AMD's plans. Things could still change. We will find out closer to June.

Editorial: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman

Last modified on January 18, 2019 at 1:30 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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