The announcement that the Zen 3 CPUs would be moved off of the aging 400-series motherboard chipsets was met with a lot of resistance. Two weeks ago AMD announced that that the next-generation of Zen CPU architecture would require a newer 500-series chipset instead. Now, just a short while later, AMD has reversed that decision. AMD also said that the new 4000-series CPUs will move to the new architecture of the AM4 socket, giving the aging socket some increasingly long life.
With this change, it seems that AMD has given in to consumer demand. AMD is saying it has “decided to change course” with regards to supporting Zen 3 on X470 and B450 motherboards, which will give gamers on older Zen and Zen+ hardware to get a major update to their CPUs with just a microcode update.
“While we wish could enable full support for every processor on every chipset, the flash memory chips that store BIOS settings and support have capacity limitations. Given these limitations, and the unprecedented longevity of the AM4 socket, there will inevitably be a time and place where a transition to free up space is necessary—the AMD 500 series chipsets are that time,” AMD said at the time of the original announcement. Well, it looks like their developers have found a way to deal with that problem.
Apparently, the workaround they found is to purge the aforementioned memory chips of older code. AMD says that the patch will remove support for the first generation of Ryzen CPUs. Many outlets reporting on this suspect that this means 400-series mobos will lose support for Ryzen 1000 series CPUs and Ryzen 2000 series APUs.
Combining this with the recent re-issue of older Zen and Zen+ CPUs on 12nm to deal with shortages is a bit weird. It’s likely that AMD will keep the microcode intact for these newer versions while purging support for the older versions.
“As the team weighed your feedback against the technical challenges we face, we decided to change course. As a result, we will enable an upgrade path for B450 and X470 customers that adds support for next-gen AMD Ryzen processors with the ‘Zen 3’ architecture,” AMD announced today on Reddit.
Details around the update are still murky, and AMD is stressing that this is a “very fresh” decision. There’s a very strong possibility that this could change. We could see a system where AMD has to loan out hardware to allow users on older systems to patch their motherboards to the new Zen 3 CPUs.
It’s important to note that this could change, and it’s not going to go beyond this point. When the next crop of AMD CPUs beyond Zen 3 CPUs drop, it looks like 500-series motherboards will be the new minimum. CPU releases beyond ‘Zen 3’ will require a newer motherboard,” AMD added, and that’s pretty clear.