Editorial: Are Socket AMD BIOS's Too Fat?

Strelok

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Well yeah. But to understand these decisions you have to look at the whole board. There are literally thousands of components on a board. If all of them change by even a very small amount of money, it adds up.

Part of the difficulty in design is figuring out where it makes sense to spend on more or higher quality, and where it is safe to cut so you don't wind up with a $700 motherboard...

...wait... :sneaky:
Why spend money on useful features when you can just shove RGB everywhere! I feel like a "get off my lawn" old man and I'm not even 30 yet....
 

Alexvrb

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I definitely agree with the calls for the use of larger BIOS chips. That's already starting to happen, but really 32MB should have been standard on B450 and above boards IMHO. For current boards yeah, the stripped down BIOS is a good option for those upgrading an existing system affordably. Much better than no option at all.

I am clearly missing something and so I'm trying to figure out what that is.
They're not using NAND IIRC they use NOR flash. Someone else I'm sure can shed more light on it, but basically it's not as simple as "you can get multi-gig USB sticks for a few bucks".
 
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Azrak

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Isn't this really just a simple case of the UEFI/BIOS already being sort of near the 16 MB flash memory size and adding a few more CPUs pushed it over 16 MB? Some MB manufacturers were caught because they did not choose to use 32 MB flash chips to hold the BIOS.
I mean, if BIOS flash memory only came in 32 MB increments, we would not be discussing this at all.
 

hansmuff

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So it looks like Gigabyte is putting 16MB BIOS chips on their X570 boards. I just bought the Aorus Master and it's so far been fantastic, but it bothers me that a $350 motherboard comes with a kind of small BIOS chip.
 

Eduardo_Domingot

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Dan had a few thoughts after doing launch review testing for the Ryzen 9 3900X processor as he ran benchmarks and tried it on different motherboards. We get our soapbox out and let him stand and talk for a bit - let us know your thoughts!
These are the type of articles that make me happy to see this pace growing.
Been watching since the start but recently this place has taken off.

On the subject I do think the current Bios are a little much. I guess I am one of the few that didnt mind the blue and yellow/white GUI of the old bios from back in the day.
 

ThreeDee

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Blue and White for life yo ... maybe keep the uber fancy splash boot screens for the kiddos though ... ? :poop:
 

pek2000

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Reminds me of Cisco gear, at some point in the life of a switch/router if you wanted the latest ios version with bug fixes, you had to buy more memory, at Cisco's prices.

But, as far as I'm concerned they can drop the rgb support and use that space for cpu support.
 

Zarathustra

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On the subject I do think the current Bios are a little much. I guess I am one of the few that didnt mind the blue and yellow/white GUI of the old bios from back in the day.
Blue and White for life yo ... maybe keep the uber fancy splash boot screens for the kiddos though ... ? :poop:
I'm not 100% attached to the old school ASCI/IANSI BIOS:es. I don't care if they are graphical or text based, as long as there are no other functional implications.

I do like racing through the the BIOS options using only the keyboard though. In most graphical BIOS;es this still works, but some have gotten to the point where you actually have to use the mouse pointer, and that is annoying, especially considering the weird mouse drivers they seem to use in their BIOS with really odd sensitivity settings that just throw me off completely.
 

Eduardo_Domingot

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I'm not 100% attached to the old school ASCI/IANSI BIOS:es. I don't care if they are graphical or text based, as long as there are no other functional implications.

I do like racing through the the BIOS options using only the keyboard though. In most graphical BIOS;es this still works, but some have gotten to the point where you actually have to use the mouse pointer, and that is annoying, especially considering the weird mouse drivers they seem to use in their BIOS with really odd sensitivity settings that just throw me off completely.
Yeah some of the newer features (Especially for people who Overclock) are great but honestly I would go back to that blue/white blue/yellow asap if they threw those features in.
 

Dan_D

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As someone pointed out earlier, there are hundreds if not thousands on these boards. A 16MB BIOS chip is basically a couple of dollars. Going to 32MB doubles the price, if not more. This sounds like no big deal as it wouldn't even change anything for us. These companies could literally add the cost of the larger BIOS chip to the boards at retail and we wouldn't even notice. However, over thousands or tens of thousands of motherboards, the costs add up. They have to worry about price creep from adding more and more stuff to these boards. It's actually something they deal with already. That's why you only see ESS Sabre DACs on $500 and up motherboards and everything below that line generally gets a cheap Realtek CODEC.
 

kschendel

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...A 16MB BIOS chip is basically a couple of dollars. Going to 32MB doubles the price, if not more. This sounds like no big deal as it wouldn't even change anything for us. These companies could literally add the cost of the larger BIOS chip to the boards at retail and we wouldn't even notice. However, over thousands or tens of thousands of motherboards, the costs add up....
And, unfortunately, they can't pay for the new bigger BIOS chips incrementally as they sell boards. They have to buy a batch up front, and then that adds to their inventory carrying cost, not to mention figuring out something to do with remaining inventory of the 16MB chips. At retail it ends up being significantly more then just a couple dollars.
 

Bloax

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Now now, gentlemen - just because the motherboard vendors *say* they only took out RAID support and made the interface less BING BING WAHOO, that doesn't necessitate that it's *all* they took out.

I can use my newly upgraded system as a live example!
As a preface, I'll just describe myself as a rather recent entree to the whole hardware enthusiam sphere -
though my first experiences with BIOS tinkering were on a Core 2 Duo E8600 on an Asus P5QL, so the comfy blue, gray and black BIOS is very homely, while all these UEFI shenanigans feel alien and unnecessary.

The board I had my eyes on - the x570 Crosshair "AreNumbersTrulyNecessaryInOurLives" Impact from Asus - wasn't out yet, so I decided to cheap out and roll a minimalistic, expendable MSI b450 Tomahawk + 3600 setup while waiting for better Zen2 bins to come down in price.

MSI is kind enough to include the ability to flash the motherboard without POST'ing or anything on most of their motherboards, which is a very nice feature - isn't it? : -)
Yeah, it's very nice - especially when you don't have an older AM4 CPU to flash it with.
Long story short about contemplating whether I should nuke my current Z97 system with an i5-4690k, I ended up going through with the El Classico motherboard-box build.

I flash the late-June 2019 BIOS onto the board, the CPU works, all good - right?
Well, it certainly worked - and not in the "it POSTs kinda haha xd" way as a not-supported board running a ""supports Ryzen 3000"" BIOS from March 2019, but in the actually "it DOES work" kind of way.
When powered on, it'd power on.
Yes, power on.
What? You want me to do something?
Short the reset pins, meatbag!

alright then i guess it boots after being powered on *and* reset

The immediate thing I noticed however, was that there was no way to disable Spread Spectrum - no biggie, right? Yeah, no biggie I guess.
Trying to overclock it proved rather fruitless - or perhaps, very fruity - as the CPU seems to be very citrusy and straight-up refused to go up to 4.2 GHz regardless of voltage, though it does do 4.15 @ 1.375v
Then I decided it was time to do some long-awaited memory overclocking; the entire reason I had dumped my Z97 system was because either my Asrock Extreme 4 board was **** (possible), my CPU's memory controller was trash (plausible), the BIOS memory support was garbage (very possible), or the DDR3 2133 CL9 sticks were lemons (maybe).
But it's okay - this time I was armed with powerful DDR4 3200 CL14 single-rank Samsung B-Die goodness, some of the hottest **** on the street at reasonable prices, that I got well in advance as prices WOULD and HAVE gone up.

So I make a few changes and save the changes..
That's All Folks!
Board doesn't POST, board doesn't respond to resets, board doesn't respond to power pins.
Turn off PSU, wait, turn it back on - nothing!
Now you turn the PSU off, wait, short the reset CMOS pins for 10 seconds and turn it back on.

Very cool, yuh? Yeah, super cool. No memory overclocking for you.
It does the same thing if you set too low a voltage for a too high frequency on the CPU, by the way.
So yes, they didn't only cut out RAID :)
They also cut out a feature that was present on my five-year-old Z97 board; the ability of attempting to POST X amount of times, before loading up defaults and storing your failed OC settings ready to be corrected.

Remember that nice feature with flashing the BIOS without POST'ing or having CPU/RAM installed? Yeah, let's talk about that again.
That feature works flawlessly, unsurprisingly so seeing that it's completely independent from the BIOS.
Now, what DOESN'T work flawlessly is trying to update the BIOS *within* the BIOS itself. "Continue to reboot in Flash Mode?"
yeah continue to NOT BOOT BECAUSE WE CUT THAT OUT TOO hahAHAhA
Guess what beta tester discovered that today after finding a BIOS update???

Fortunately, the "BIOS Flackback+ (tm) all rights to your mom reserved blah blah" button works wonders.
What was less fortunate was the fact that after re-entering the fan settings again (joy!), setting up a safe & sane CPU frequency/voltage (3.6 @ 1.2v), Winblows now refused to boot.
After a few laughs at its struggles, I went back into BIOS and set the memory settings to DEAD STOCK (because SOMEONE had *the nerve* to casually use XMP) and it finally booted just fine.
It then decided that it does, indeed, want to work at 3200 CL14 XMP @ 1t as it used to prior to the BIOS update - but that was still rather humourous.


So yeah, they cut out RAID support. Boo-hoo hoo, right?
Smiles, everyone! Smiles!
this is like some great (hardware) fantasy
Nah I think they cut out a LITTLE BIT more than just RAID support and pictures. Little, unimportant bits. Yes, yes.

Besides all that nonsense, this system is a huge upgrade over the Ol' Haswell I had chugging along.
Just a shame the board doesn't quite let it be a real screamer.
And beyond the intentionally slapstick presentation, the latest BIOS has made it POST and continue without requiring a reset to help it along.
edit: well ok, seems like booting up without a reset was just a fluke
 
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TheHig

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Been back on x79 and waiting for x570 to get sorted a bit more before upgrading (again i sold x470 build) and I really don't mind the text based KB driven bios on my Asus x79 Pro. In fact I find it to be comforting. Like an old Tshirt that is worn in just right..
Maybe I'm getting old. :LOL:
 

noko

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Loved this article. Now for AMD this will maximize CPU sells because they have a much bigger crowd with motherboards that can take the new CPU. So for AMD having backwards compatibility increases sells. For motherboard makers they instantly have competition from their previous products so they have to outdo the previous design. Which in a way benefits the users since you have a much larger selection of boards to pick from and the manufacturers will have to go way out to get you to buy their newest.

The other aspect is the user experience - for me - not exaggerating - Unplugged my computer and cables, took the side cover off, pinched the pump tube so I would not have to prime it afterwards - laid the case on the side - took out the old CPU and put in the new (use thermal pad for CPU) re-installed the block - flip backup, hooked back up and turned on the computer - basically set defaults in the bios and I was in Windows 15 minutes from start to finish. Awesome user experience in my case while others may have a nightmare instead. Love these types of Upgrades since now the CPU removed can go into another machine upgrading that one - daisy chain goodness. I am on my fourth processor on the same motherboard. Not having to buy three new motherboards for each major shift in the processor is gold.

I also knew of potential issues and could always buy a more updated motherboard as well, just great to have options. I wonder what the motherboard manufactures think? There probably not making much money on an older motherboard but have to update the bios.
 
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Bloax

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I would imagine he's using a graphite pad like the Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut, not one of those funny-looking things found on things like GPU heatsinks to barely conduct stray heat away from low-heat parts. :- )

Which is still worse than a good paste - and especially liquid metal, which is still a consideration considering the sheer thermal density of these 7nm sonsabitches - but pretty convenient and perfectly adequate if you're not pushing it to the limit, nonetheless.
 

noko

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