AMD Announces BIOS Fix for Ryzen 3000 Processors, Dismisses Reliability Concerns

Credit: AMDCredit: AMDAMD has shared more information on its forthcoming boost clock fix for the Ryzen 3000 series processors in a blog post on its website. AMD also dismissed reports that previous alterations to the boost clock behavior were driven by reliability concerts. We've included the full text of the blog post at the end of the article.

We've already managed to get our hands on a beta BIOS with the fix, and you can see our results here.

The Ryzen 3000 chips debuted two months ago to wide industry acclaim, with the combination of the new Zen 2 microarchitecture and the 7nm process delivering a big performance enhancement to desktop PCs at very competitive price points. Unfortunately, the company has drawn fire from the enthusiast community because many of the chips haven't reached the rated boost clocks, with the flagship Ryzen 9 3900X being the most impacted.

Now AMD has announced that its new firmware, dubbed 1.0.0.3ABBA, will fix a bug in the previous firmware that reduced speeds by 25 to 50 MHz. AMD has provided the new code to motherboard vendors, and we can expect updated BIOS revisions to filter out within "two to three weeks." Given the processors have adequate cooling, power, and the requisite Windows 10 updates and drivers, AMD says the update should fix the boost behavior:

As we noted in this blog, we also resolved an issue in our BIOS that was reducing maximum boost frequency by 25-50MHz depending on workload. We expect our motherboard partners to make this update available as a patch in two to three weeks. Following the installation of the latest BIOS update, a consumer running a bursty, single threaded application on a PC with the latest software updates and adequate voltage and thermal headroom should see the maximum boost frequency of their processor. 

The boost clock "controversy" has taken on a life of its own, with some speculating that AMD reduced the boost speeds to combat concerns about long-term reliability. This theory was recently cited by Intel in one of its marketing decks, leading to concern in the enthusiast community. We covered that issue and ran some tests of our own last week. We uncovered that AMD did alter the boost temperature thresholds in its processors after launch, but it's impossible to determine if these changes were intentional or the result of an error. Also, it's impossible to tell if the changes were made to address reliability concerns.

AMD flatly denies the claims that it adjusted the clock speeds to improve chip longevity:

In addition, we do want to address recent questions about reliability. We perform extensive engineering analysis to develop reliability models and to model the lifetime of our processors before entering mass production. While AGESA 1003AB contained changes to improve system stability and performance for users, changes were not made for product longevity reasons. We do not expect that the improvements that have been made in boost frequency for AGESA 1003ABBA will have any impact on the lifetime of your Ryzen processor. 

AMD's blog post also provides updates on several other new developments. The company has reacted to concerns from users about seemingly-high power consumption when the system idles, which causes higher heat output and noise from cooling fans when the extra power isn't necessarily required. AMD instituted a new feature that identifies mundane background activity and adjusts power consumption accordingly, resulting in a 1.2V idle for the cores during idle.  

Although AMD has conceded that it is correcting a bug, we have to remember that many of the reports of sub-par boost clock activities are certainly from incorrectly configured systems, be it from a lack of the necessary Windows update, poorly-mounted coolers, or otherwise. While these are obvious causes of some issues, many of the commonly-used tools that log processor frequency and performance are also at fault. This stems from the utilities either not polling the processor frequently enough to capture small periods of boost activity, or polling too frequently and causing the processor to jump into higher power states when it would normally idle.

To help address these issues, AMD has also created a new AMD Monitoring SDK that will assure test utilities are reporting accurate information, and also allows anyone to build their own monitoring utility. AMD will release the SDK on September 30, 2019.

In summation, we should see final BIOS revisions based on the 1.0.0.3ABBA AGESA code arrive within the next two to three weeks, and AMD is also working on several other fronts to address concerns raised by the enthusiast community.

Here's the full blog post:

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An Update on 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen Boost Frequencies

Listening to users on how our products operate in the real world is very important to AMD.  Your collective voice is heard and is key to how we develop and build great products like our recently launched 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processors.

With our newest processors, we set out to build a family of products that offered outstanding performance and amazing value across a wide number of applications – and from the user response and third party reviews we have done just that.  Alongside this feedback on the incredible performance of 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen, we have also heard from some users who expressed concerns about their ability to hit the maximum boost frequency of their product.  We understand how this can be confusing and frustrating for those users, so we are providing more context on how we set the boost frequencies on 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processors, and what you should expect to see.

Our processors perform intelligent real-time analysis of the CPU temperature, motherboard voltage regulator current (amps), socket power (watts), loaded cores, and workload intensity to maximize performance from millisecond to millisecond.As part of our manufacturing process, each Ryzen 3000 series is tested at a set of voltage and temperature specifications to ensure the processor is capable of operating to the base and maximum boost frequency specified.  

Achieving this maximum boost frequency, and the duration of time the processor sits at this maximum boost frequency, will vary from PC to PC based on many factors such as having adequate voltage and current headroom, the ambient temperature, installing the most up-to-date software and BIOS, and especially the application of thermal paste and the effectiveness of the system/processor cooling solution.

As we noted in this blog, we also resolved an issue in our BIOS that was reducing maximum boost frequency by 25-50MHz depending on workload. We expect our motherboard partners to make this update available as a patch in two to three weeks. Following the installation of the latest BIOS update, a consumer running a bursty, single threaded application on a PC with the latest software updates and adequate voltage and thermal headroom should see the maximum boost frequency of their processor.  PCMark® 10 is a good, bursty workload proxy for a user to test the maximum boost frequency of their processor in their system.  It is expected that if users run a workload like Cinebench, which runs for an extended period of time, the operating frequencies may be less than the maximum throughout the run.

As always, if a user has a concern about the performance or operation of their AMD Ryzen processor, we ask that they contact us here for technical support and assistance.

As the hundreds of independent reviews and online comments and ratings from users highlight, Ryzen 3000 series processors deliver leadership performance across productivity, gaming, and content creation workloads.  We are incredibly proud of the product our talented engineers have designed, and we think Ryzen processors are the clear choice for anyone looking to buy the highest performance processors based on real-world application performance.

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Community Update #6: BIOS Updates for Boost and Idle, plus a new SDK

Hello, everyone! We’re delighted by your support and the strong momentum of 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen™ processors in the marketplace, and we continue to watch your feedback closely. Today we have some important updates for you concerning processor boost behavior, desktop idle behavior, and a new monitoring SDK. The first two changes will be arriving in BIOSes based on AGESA 1003ABBA, and the SDK will be available to the public on amd.com starting September 30.

Boost Changes

Starting with our commitment to provide you an update on processor boost, our analysis indicates that the processor boost algorithm was affected by an issue that could cause target frequencies to be lower than expected. This has been resolved. We’ve also been exploring other opportunities to optimize performance, which can further enhance the frequency. These changes are now being implemented in flashable BIOSes from our motherboard partners. Across the stack of 3rd Gen Ryzen Processors, our internal testing shows that these changes can add approximately 25-50MHz to the current boost frequencies under various workloads. 

Our estimation of the benefit is broadly based on workloads like PCMark® 10 and Kraken JavaScript Benchmark. The actual improvement may be lower or higher depending on the workload, system configuration, and thermal/cooling solution implemented in the PC. We used the following test system in our analysis:

  • AMD Reference Motherboard (AGESA 1003ABBA beta BIOS)
  • 2x8GB DDR4-3600C16
  • AMD Wraith Prism and Noctua NH-D15S coolers
  • Windows® 10 May 2019 Update
  • 22°C ambient test lab
  • Streacom BC1 Open Benchtable
  • AMD Chipset Driver 1.8.19.xxx
  • AMD Ryzen™ Balanced power plan
  • BIOS defaults (except memory OC)

These improvements will be available in flashable BIOSes starting in about two to three weeks’ time, depending on the testing and implementation schedule of your motherboard manufacturer. Additional information on boost frequency in the 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen™ Processors can also be obtained from this blog update.

Going forward, it’s important to understand how our boost technology operates. Our processors perform intelligent real-time analysis of the CPU temperature, motherboard voltage regulator current (amps), socket power (watts), loaded cores, and workload intensity to maximize performance from millisecond to millisecond. Ensuring your system has adequate thermal paste; reliable system cooling; the latest motherboard BIOS; reliable BIOS settings/configuration; the latest AMD chipset driver; and the latest operating system can enhance your experience.

Following the installation of the latest BIOS update, a consumer running a bursty, single threaded application on a PC with the latest software updates and adequate voltage and thermal headroom should see the maximum boost frequency of their processor.  PCMark® 10 is a good proxy for a user to test the maximum boost frequency of the processor in their system.  It is expected that if users run a workload like Cinebench, which runs for an extended period of time, the operating frequencies may be less than the maximum throughout the run.

In addition, we do want to address recent questions about reliability. We perform extensive engineering analysis to develop reliability models and to model the lifetime of our processors before entering mass production. While AGESA 1003AB contained changes to improve system stability and performance for users, changes were not made for product longevity reasons. We do not expect that the improvements that have been made in boost frequency for AGESA 1003ABBA will have any impact on the lifetime of your Ryzen processor. 

Revisiting Calmer Idle

In late July, we implemented a series of software changes that would help the processor ignore requests for voltage/frequency boost from lightweight applications. The goal was to make the processor more relaxed at the desktop, but poised to react for serious workloads. While many of you were happy with the effect of the software changes, some of you were still grappling with cases where the CPU was a bit overzealous with boost. We wanted to smooth those out, too.

Today we’re announcing that AGESA 1003ABBA carries firmware-level changes designed to do just that. The changes primarily arrive in the form of an “activity filter” that empowers the CPU boost algorithm itself to disregard intermittent OS and application background noise. Example test cases might include: video playback, game launchers, monitoring utilities, and peripheral utilities. These cases tend to make regular requests for a higher boost state, but their intermittent nature would fall below the threshold of the activity filter. 

Net-net, we expect you’ll see lower desktop voltages, around 1.2V, for the core(s) actively handling such tasks. We believe this solution will be even more effective than the July changes for an even wider range of applications.

Please keep in mind, however, that this firmware change is not a cap. The processor must still be free to boost if active workload(s) seriously require it, so you should still expect occasions where the processor will explore its designed and tested voltage range of 0.2V to 1.5V. 

New Monitoring SDK

Obtaining reliable data about the operating behavior of a processor is important to enthusiasts such as myself. There are many monitoring utilities on the market, and we work with many of them to ensure they’re accessing telemetry data in a sensible manner. Regardless of the utility, however, it’s common sense that all the tools should roughly correlate when you ask a simple question like “what’s my CPU temperature?”

Enabling a consistent experience across monitoring utilities is important to us. That’s why we’re announcing the September 30 release of the AMD Monitoring SDK that will allow anyone to build a public monitoring utility that can reliably report a range of key processor metrics in a consistent manner. Altogether, there are 30+ API calls within the first SDK release, but we’ve highlighted a few of the more important or interesting ones below:

Current operating temperature: Reports the average temperature of the CPU cores over a short sample period. By design, this metric filters transient spikes that can skew temperature reporting.

  • Peak Core(s) Voltage (PCV): Reports the Voltage Identification (VID) requested by the CPU package of the motherboard voltage regulators. This voltage is set to service the needs of the cores under active load, but isn’t necessarily the final voltage experienced by all of the CPU cores.
  • Average Core Voltage (ACV): Reports the average voltages experienced by all processor cores over a short sample period, factoring in active power management, sleep states, VDROOP, and idle time.
  • EDC (A), TDC (A), PPT (W): The current and power limits for your motherboard VRMs and processor socket.
  • Peak Speed: The maximum frequency of the fastest core during the sample period.
  • Effective Frequency: The frequency of the processor cores after factoring in time spent in sleep states (e.g. cc6 core sleep or pc6 package sleep). Example: One processor core is running at 4GHz while awake, but in cc6 core sleep for 50% of the sample period. The effective frequency of this core would be 2GHz. This value can give you a feel for how often the cores are using aggressive power management capabilities that aren’t immediately obvious (e.g. clock or voltage changes).
  • Various voltages and clocks, including: SoC voltage, DRAM voltage, fabric clock, memory clock, etc.

A Preview in Action

This SDK will be available for public download on developer.amd.com on September 30. As a preview of what the new SDK can enable, AMD Ryzen™ Master has already been updated with the new Average Core Voltage API and is ready for download today.

As noted above, Average Core Voltage shows you average voltages that all CPU cores are experiencing over a short sample period after you factor in sleep states, idle states, active power management, and VDROOP. Depending on the load on the processor, this value might be quite different from Peak Core(s) Voltage.

For example: if the processor is lightly loaded on a few cores, the overall activity level of all the CPU cores will be relatively low and, therefore, the Average Core Voltage will be low as well. But the active cores still need intermittently higher voltages to power boost frequencies, which will be reflected in the Peak Core Voltage. As the CPU comes under full load, these two values will eventually converge representing that all cores are active at approximately the same intensity. The overall goal of these two values is to show you what’s happening moment-to-moment the most loaded cores (Peak), and what’s happening more generally to the CPU cores over time (Average).

We hope new APIs like Average Core Voltage give you a better understanding of how our processors behave, and we can’t wait to see more tools make use of the new monitoring SDK. Visit amd.com on September 30 for the first public release!

What to Expect Next

AGESA 1003ABBA has now been released to our motherboard partners. Now they will perform additional testing, QA, and implementation work on their specific hardware (versus our reference motherboard). Flashable BIOSes based on AGESA 1003ABBA will begin to arrive in approximately two weeks, depending on the testing time of your vendor and motherboard.

Going forward, we’ll continue providing updates in this format as the updates are being prepped for release. In the interim, please don’t hesitate to reach out our support page if you have questions or need help.