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Welcome to the fourth installment of the Ryzen Community Updates! If you’re checking into this series for the first time, this is where we let our community know about all the exciting updates that are on their way for the AMD Ryzen™ processor. We’ve covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time: game updates, new Windows® power plans, stability improvements, feature additions and much more. Today’s update is the one many of you have been most excited about: the AGESA that focuses on overclocked memory. There’s some great news for IOMMU/ACS users, too!

 

What is an “AGESA”?

AGESA is an acronym that stands for “AMD Generic Encapsulated System Architecture.” As a brief primer, the AGESA is responsible for initializing AMD x86-64 processors during boot time, acting as something of a “nucleus” for the BIOS for your motherboard. Motherboard vendors take the core capabilities of our AGESA updates and build on them with their own “secret sauce” to create the BIOS files you download and flash. Today, the BIOS files for AMD AM4 motherboards are largely based on AGESA version 1.0.0.4.

 

Beginning this month, as we promised to you, we began beta testing a new AGESA (v1.0.0.6) that is largely focused on aiding the stability of overclocked DRAM (>DDR4-2667). We are now at the point where that testing can begin transitioning into release candidate and/or production BIOSes for you to download. Depending on the QA/testing practices of your motherboard vendor, full BIOSes based on this code could be available for your motherboard starting in mid to late June. Some customers may already be in luck, however, as there are motherboards—like my Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming5 and ASUS Crosshair VI—that already have public betas.

 

Starting With Virtualization

If you’re the kind of user that just needs (or loves!) virtualization every day, then AGESA 1.0.0.6-based firmware will be a blessing for you thanks to fresh support for PCI Express® Access Control Services (ACS). ACS primarily enables support for manual assignment of PCIe® graphics cards within logical containers called “IOMMU groups.”  The hardware resources of an IOMMU group can then be dedicated to a virtual machine.

 

This capability is especially useful for users that want 3D-accelerated graphics inside a virtual machine. With ACS support, it is possible to split a 2-GPU system such that a host Linux® OS and a Windows VM both have a dedicated graphics cards. The virtual machine can access all the capabilities of the dedicated GPU, and run games inside the virtual machine at near-native performance.

 

This is certainly a complicated setup for most users, but I have no doubt that there will be a whole lot of you enthusiastically nodding at this news. We’re grateful for your feedback and your patience, and we hope the new support for ACS serves you well.

 

What's Next For Memory

AGESA 1.0.0.6 officially adds 26 new parameters that can improve the compatibility and reliability of DRAM, especially for memory that does not follow the industry-standard JEDEC specifications (e.g. faster than 2667, manual overclocking, or XMP2 profiles).

 

The following table spells out all the new parameters, and provides a few words on what they do. Keeping in mind that this is overclocking territory, manual or automated control of these parameters should nevertheless make it a little more straightforward to use DDR4-3200 modules—or faster if you have the talent!1


ParameterFunctionValues
Memory clocksAdded dividers for memory clocks up to DDR4-4000 without refclk adjustment. Please note that values greater than DDR4-2667 is overclocking. Your mileage may vary (as noted by our big overclocking warning at the end of this blog).133.33MT/s intervals (2667, 2933, 3067, 3200, 3333, 3466, 3600, 3733, 3866, 4000)
Command rate (CR)The amount of time, in cycles, between when a DRAM chip is selected and a command is executed. 2T CR can be very beneficial for stability with high memory clocks, or for 4-DIMM configurations.2T, 1T
ProcODT (CPU on-die termination)A resistance value, in ohms, that determines how a completed memory signal is terminated. Higher values can help stabilize higher data rates. Values in the range of 60-96 can prove helpful.Integer values (ohms)
tWCL/tWL/tCWLCAS Write Latency, or the amount of time it takes to write to the open memory bank. WCL is generally configured equal to CAS or CAS-1. This can be a significant timing for stability, and lower values often prove better.Integer values (cycles)
tRCRow cycle time, or the number of clock cycles required for a memory row to complete a full operational cycle. Lower values can notably improve performance, but should not be set lower than tRP+tRAS for stability reasons.Integer values (cycles)
tFAWFour activation window, or the time that must elapse before new memory banks can be activated after four ACTIVATE commands have been issued. Configured to a minumum 4x tRRD_S, but values >8x tRRD_S are often used for stability.Integer values (ns)
tWRWrite recovery time, or the time that must elapse between a valid write operation and the precharging of another bank. Higher values are often beneficial for stability, and values < 8 can quickly corrupt data stored in RAM.Integer values (ns)
CLDO_VDDP

Voltage for the DDR4 PHY on the SoC. Somewhat counterintuitively, lowering VDDP can often be more beneficial for stability than raising CLDO_VDDP. Advanced overclockers should also know that altering CLDO_VDDP can move or resolve memory holes. Small changes to VDDP can have a big effect, and VDDP cannot not be set to a value greater than VDIMM-0.1V (not to exceed 1.05V). A cold reboot is required if you alter this voltage.

 

Sidenote: pre-1.0.0.6 BIOSes may also have an entry labeled “VDDP” that alters the external voltage level sent to the CPU VDDP pins. This is not the same parameter as CLDO_VDDP in AGESA 1.0.0.6.

Integer values (V)
tRDWR / tWRRDRead-to-write and write-to-read latency, or the time that must elapse between issuing sequential read/write or write/read commands.Integer values (cycles)
tRDRD / tWRWRRead-to-read and write-to-write latency, or the time between sequential read or write requests (e.g. DIMM-to-DIMM, or across ranks). Lower values can significantly improve DRAM throughput, but high memory clocks often demand relaxed timings.Integer values (cycles)
Geardown ModeAllows the DRAM device to run off its internally-generated ½ rate clock for latching on the command or address buses. ON is the default for speeds greater than DDR4-2667, however the benefit of ON vs. OFF will vary from memory kit to memory kit. Enabling Geardown Mode will override your current command rate.On/Off
RttControls the performance of DRAM internal termination resistors during nominal, write, and park states.Nom(inal), WR(ite), and Park integers (ohms)
tMAWMaximum activation window, or the maximum number of times a DRAM row can be activated before adjacent memory rows must be refreshed to preserve data.Integer values (cycles)
tMACMaximum activate count, or the number of times a row is activated by the system before adjacent row refresh. Must be equal to or less than tMAW.Integer values (cycles)
tRFCRefresh cycle time, or the time it takes for the memory to read and re-write information to the same DRAM cell for the purposes of preserving information. This is typically a timing automatically derived from other values.Integer values (cycles)
tRFC2Refresh cycle time for double frequency (2x) mode.  This is typically a timing automatically derived from other values.Integer values (cycles)
tRFC4Refresh cycle time for quad frequency (4x) mode. This is typically a timing automatically derived from other values.Integer values (cycles)
tRRD_SActivate to activate delay (short), or the number of clock cycles between activate commands in a different bank group.Integer values (cycles)
tRRD_LActivate to activate delay (long), or the number of clock cycles between activate commands in the same bank group.Integer values (cycles)
tWRWrite recovery time, or the time that must elapse between a valid write operation and the precharging of another bank. Higher values are often better for stability.Integer values (ns)
tWTR_SWrite to read delay (short), or the time between a write transaction and read command on a different bank group.Integer values (cycles)
tWTR_LWrite to read delay (long), or the time between a write transaction and read command on the same bank group.Integer values (cycles)
tRTPRead to precharge time, or the number of clock cycles between a READ command to a row and a precharge command to the same rank.Integer values (cycles)
DRAM Power DownCan modestly save system power, at the expense of higher DRAM latency, by putting DRAM into a quiescent state after a period of inactivity.On/Off

 

Until next time

What are you interested in hearing more about in our next AMD Ryzen Community Update? Let us know on Twitter @AMDRyzen!

 

Robert Hallock is a technical marketing guy for AMD's CPU division. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 


1. WARNING: Overclocking memory will void any applicable AMD product warranty, even if such overclocking is enabled via AMD hardware and/or software.  This may also void warranties offered by the system manufacturer or retailer or motherboard vendor.  Users assume all risks and liabilities that may arise out of overclocking memory, including, without limitation, failure of or damage to RAM/hardware, reduced system performance and/or data loss, corruption or vulnerability.  GD-112

After fleshing out an impressive selection of nearly 100 ATX and mATX AM4 motherboards, our motherboard partners have started to turn their attention to more specialized small-batch designs like the mini-ITX form factor. Prized for its “power-to-weight” ratio, the diminutive mITX form factor—just 170x170mm—can pack a lot of hardware into systems not much larger than a shoebox. That’s tantalizing potential for gamers like Darrell, who just put the finishing touches on a hot new ITX rig built around the flagship AMD Ryzen™ 7 1800X processor.

 

AMD: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Darrell: Hey, I’m Darrell! I live in Portland, Oregon and I've always had a passion for technology. I'm currently working as a network and systems engineer. I've been building custom PC's for the last 10 years, and I’ve recently spent more time dedicated to the building process.

 

AMD: Every good PC needs some good games. What are you into right now?
Darrell: I love love LOVE my HTC VIVE. VR changes everything. Tilt Brush, Space Pirate Trainer and SUPERHOT are great in VR! Outside of VR, I also enjoy some old school Runescape, Hearthstone, GTA V, Doom, Path of Exile and some Overwatch.

 

AMD: I understand you’re running an ITX system with Ryzen now. Give us the specs!
Darrell: That’s right! I built a blue AMD PC. It’s a little unorthodox, but it has a peaceful “Zen” feel to it. It’s packing a Ryzen 7 1800X overclocked to 4GHz, Biostar X370GTN ITX mobo, 32GB DDR4-2933, 1TB Samsung 960 EVO NVMe SSD, a Corsair SF600 SFX power supply, and a Radeon R9 Nano overclocked to 1.1GHz. I built the system into an NCASE M1, and then watercooled it. Most of the watercooling components are made by EKWB and Bitspower. There’s more work to do, but I really enjoyed building it!

 

AMD: You recently switched to AMD, is that right? What convinced you?

Darrell: Yes, that’s right. I’ve been following Ryzen since it was announced, and when I learned the price for what this chip offers, I knew I had to have it. I upgraded from a Core i7-6700K. That’s a pretty high-end processor, but it didn’t do everything I needed it to. The 16 threads on my 1800X gives me peace of mind—I know that I won’t experience a bottleneck while streaming or working on other things while gaming.

 

AMD: Since you just switched to AMD, is there anything you found surprising/interesting/different?

Darrell: I’ve always been a fan of AMD GPUs, but this is my first AMD processor. I am extremely impressed by how much community outreach AMD has compared to the other guy. I feel as if I am part of a helpful community. I never got that from my 6700K.

 

AMD: Has Ryzen’s performance surprised you on any workloads?

Darrell: Yes, actually. In my line of work, I need to run multiple [virtual machines] alongside some compute-intensive workloads. I know my 1800X is significantly faster than any quad core CPU for this kind of work. I’ve especially noticed huge gains in x264 encoding while streaming and recording my gameplay. File decompression is noticeably faster, too.

 

AMD: Why was the ITX form factor so important to you?

Darrell: I need small form factor. I cannot even envision building a large PC. Living in Portland, I attend PDXLAN as often as possible. It’s so convenient to have a desktop’s worth of performance in a system that’s easy to carry around. And since I’m limited to this form factor, I take it as a challenge to put the most powerful components I can find into the system.

 

AMD: When choosing an ITX board, what features do you look for?

Darrell: I want at least six USB ports and an S/PDIF connector for my DAC/Amp. I also look for smart placement for front panel, power, and fan connectors so it’s easier to install a water cooling loop. Depending on my use case, I also look for robust power phases to support overclocking.

 

AMD: And what do you think about the BIOSTAR X370GTN?

Darrell: I’m pleasantly surprised. I purchased the X370GTN due it being the first ITX board to market. It’s impressive that this little brand can push out such an anticipated design ahead of the major motherboard makers. I had initially planned to upgrade to a different ITX board later on, but now I’m not so sure. This little thing works really well.

 


 

Wrap-up

With ITX motherboards like the BIOSTAR X370GTN now for sale for around $110 USD, the enthusiast’s dream of serious multi-core CPU performance in a tiny box is quickly becoming a reality. And we’re only just getting started: more ITX designs for the AMD Ryzen™ processor are on the way over the summer!

 

Special thanks to Darrell for taking some time out of his day to chat with us about his new build. You can see more of his rig in his Reddit posts on /r/AMD and on /r/Watercooling. And if you’ve built your own ITX Ryzen rig, share it with us on Twitter @AMDRyzen. We’ll occasionally feature the most incredible builds right here on the AMD community blog.

 

Robert Hallock is a technical marketing guy for AMD's CPU division. His/her postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 


 

VIVE is a trademark of HTC Corporation in the United States and other jurisdictions. No endorsement is implied.

 

WARNING: AMD processors, including chipsets, CPUs, APUs and GPUs (collectively and individually “AMD processor”), are intended to be operated only within their associated specifications and factory settings. Operating your AMD processor outside of official AMD specifications or outside of factory settings, including but not limited to the conducting of overclocking (including use of this overclocking software, even if such software has been directly or indirectly provided by AMD or an entity otherwise affiliated in any way with AMD), may damage your processor, affect the operation of your processor or the security features therein and/or lead to other problems, including but not limited to damage to your system components (including your motherboard and components thereon (e.g., memory)), system instabilities (e.g., data loss and corrupted images), reduction in system performance, shortened processor, system component and/or system life, and in extreme cases, total system failure. It is recommended that you save any important data before using the tool.  AMD does not provide support or service for issues or damages related to use of an AMD processor outside of official AMD specifications or outside of factory settings. You may also not receive support or service from your board or system manufacturer. Please make sure you have saved all important data before using this overclocking software. DAMAGES CAUSED BY USE OF YOUR AMD PROCESSOR OUTSIDE OF OFFICIAL AMD SPECIFICATIONS OR OUTSIDE OF FACTORY SETTINGS ARE NOT COVERED UNDER ANY AMD PRODUCT WARRANTY AND MAY NOT BE COVERED BY YOUR BOARD OR SYSTEM MANUFACTURER’S WARRANTY.

It’s been about a month since the AMD Ryzen™ 5 processors launched, and we’re celebrating that anniversary with a brief little roundup of the greatest things said about these award-winning chips.

 

A little bit about Ryzen 5

Let’s face it: almost all of us multi-task while gaming. Browsing Reddit is just too interesting. There’s 10 seconds of downtime you can fill with dank memes and cute cats! You might even have more than one monitor on your desk to feed this appetite… some of your friends probably ask you what you do with all of those monitors. It’s hard to explain. They don’t understand.

 

But you know that multi-tasking life! And that brings us to today’s topic: with six cores and 12 threads, or four cores and eight threads, Ryzen 5 processors are fantastic gaming CPUs with a little extra “oomph” on the side for all those times you need to do anything beyond gaming.

 

Those core and thread counts just aren’t offered by any other CPUs at the same prices, so the benefit to you is simple: great performance in creative apps; beastly game streaming; scalability for DirectX® 12 and Vulkan®; and threads to spare when you inevitably fire up a movie, browse the web, and hang out on Discord alongside your game.

 

Even if you’re just going to sit down and game, because you have the superhuman focus that I do not, the Ryzen 5 CPUs are more than ready for the challenge:


Testing by AMD Performance Analysis Labs as of 4/24/2017. All games evaluated at 1920x1080 with the “High” in-game preset. System config: ASRock AB350 Gaming K4 (AMD), ASRock B250 Gaming M3 (Intel), GeForce GTX 1080 (21.21.13.7878 driver), Windows® 10 x64 (Build 1607), 16GB DDR4-2933 (16-16-16-36).

 

You don’t have to take our word for it

As independent reviewers dug into the Ryzen 5 lineup, I think it would be fair to say that they were impressed with everything these affordable processors can offer.

  • Proving that extra cores and threads make a difference, TechRadar said: “The extra processing power of the Ryzen 5 1600X puts Intel’s processors to shame, including both its closest competitor and a much higher-spec Broadwell-E part.”
  • Asserting that Ryzen 5 is the definitive midrange CPU, PC World wrote: “[…] Ryzen 5 is the way to go. It burns Core i5 to the ground in multi-threaded applications performance and doesn’t give up much in single-threaded performance.”
  • Noting that the extra cores and threads are great for gaming and creating, CG Magazine wrote: “the Ryzen 5 1600X is releasing as one of the best CPU’s to cater to both gamers and content creators alike.”
  • Speaking directly to creators who deserve an affordable option, Digital Trends said: “Whether you’re encoding video, streaming and recording while gaming, or compressing and uncompressing large files, you’ll see a benefit from the extra cores…”

 

Now that you know a little more about how beloved these fantastic chips really are, perhaps your curiosity is piqued. Maybe your credit card has even started to tingle a little (mine did). “But Robert,” you ask with skeptical eyes, “how much will all this performance cost me?”

 

Not much! AMD Ryzen 5 processors are now available from your favorite online retailers starting at around $169 US for the 8-thread 1400 model and $219 for the 12-thread 1600 model.1 Though you can buy any AM4 motherboard you like, boards based on the AMD B350 chipset are a great option starting around $80 US.2

 

And if you still need a little more help: let Paul’s Hardware guide the way with this awesome $1000 AMD Ryzen 5 PC!

 

 

 


Robert Hallock is a technical marketing guy for AMD's CPU division. His/her postings are his/her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

1. AMD suggested electronic retailer pricing as of April 31, 2017.

2. Prices from Newegg.com as of April 31, 2017.