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AMD Ryzen 4000 Zen 3 will be compatible with Socket AM4, but it is end of the road for X470, B450, and below motherboard owners

AMD had to devise new routing layers to make 7nm Zen 2 processors compatible with Socket AM4. (Image Source: The Verge)
AMD had to devise new routing layers to make 7nm Zen 2 processors compatible with Socket AM4. (Image Source: The Verge)
AMD's Robert Hallock has confirmed that the upcoming AMD Ryzen 4000 Zen 3 processors will be compatible with Socket AM4 as long as the motherboard features an X570 or B550 chipset. Zen 3 will not support older chipsets owing to lower space on the EEPROM of these motherboards. Future prospects of Socket AM4 depend on the industry's I/O innovation.

Socket AM4 has proved to be a very good investment for AMD. It has seen quadrupling of cores from the 4C/4T Ryzen 3 1200 to the 16C/32T Ryzen 9 3950X, four architectures and process improvements, PCIe Gen4 support, and more. AMD's Socket AM4 came as a relief at a time when Intel required (and still does) a complete motherboard upgrade with each new generation.

With Zen 3 set to launch in the coming months, AMD's consumer Technical Marketing Lead Robert Hallock clarified a few aspects about compatibility of Zen 3 with Socket AM4.

In a blog post, Hallock confirmed that current AMD X570 and B550 chipset motherboards will support Zen 3 processors after a BIOS update. However, Zen 3 processors will not be compatible with any chipset prior to X570 or B550. This means end of the road for all those who have X470, B450 and below chipset boards. Hallock says that this decision had to be taken as due to BIOS capacity limitations on older platforms.

We've seen AMD taking a similar stance with Zen 2 as well by removing drop-in support for motherboards that have just a 16 MB EEPROM. X570 motherboards have a 32 MB EEPROM thereby enabling larger a AGESA codebase to be comfortably accommodated. 

Hallock did not offer a specific timeframe for transition to a newer socket and said that it depends on the timeline of industry I/O technologies. He said,

Such technology changes typically require adjustments to the pin count or layout of a processor package, which would necessitate a new socket. We have no specific details to share concerning this roadmap or timing right now, but we know it’s important to keep you updated—and we will."

This sentiment was also echoed by AMD Senior Director of Product Management David McAfee back during E3 2019, who said, "It will really take a major inflection point in the platform technology for us to move off of socket AM4". We can expect PCIe Gen5 and DDR5 to debut in 2021, which would probably necessitate a new socket (AM5?) for Ryzen 5000. 

While Zen 3 will be fully compatible with current X570 and B550 motherboards, AMD is also expected to introduce the X670 chipset this year, which will be made by partners such as ASMedia and Via. The exact features of the X670 chipset are still not clear, but we expect better PCIe Gen4 implementation and more connectivity for NVMe, SATA, and USB 3.2.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 05 > AMD Ryzen 4000 Zen 3 will be compatible with Socket AM4, but it is end of the road for X470, B450, and below motherboard owners
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2020-05-11 (Update: 2020-05-11)
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
I am a cell and molecular biologist and computers have been an integral part of my life ever since I laid my hands on my first PC which was based on an Intel Celeron 266 MHz processor, 16 MB RAM and a modest 2 GB hard disk. Since then, I’ve seen my passion for technology evolve with the times. From traditional floppy based storage and running DOS commands for every other task, to the connected cloud and shared social experiences we take for granted today, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed a sea change in the technology landscape. I honestly feel that the best is yet to come, when things like AI and cloud computing mature further. When I am not out finding the next big cure for cancer, I read and write about a lot of technology related stuff or go about ripping and re-assembling PCs and laptops.