Overall, AMD’s launch of its third-gen Ryzen processors was successful. It’s impossible to look at the performance results and think otherwise. Yet, it feels like there’s no such thing as a “perfect” launch, because once the products began to find themselves in consumer hands, issues of boost clocks not hitting rated speeds began to creep up.
Clocks are not something we analyzed closely even up to this point. After complaints began arising, we tested our 3900X and found it to come within 25MHz of the top-rated boost, which as a consumer is not something we’d dedicate much brainpower to worrying over. Others have had worse luck, though, with -100MHz being common, and some even reporting discrepancies of -200MHz or worse.
If we ignore the influence of clocks, AMD’s new chips perform in line with what we’d expect, given the architectural upgrades, and the core counts we’re given. However, this doesn’t matter where advertising is concerned. If AMD is advertising a certain speed, and few people are actually able to hit it, that’s a big deal.
To that end, AMD has been listening to the complaints, and has realized that there have been optimizations not put into place that will help things along. The company has today announced that a new EFI is going to be coming, rectifying the issue – or at least hopefully. Here’s the full statement:
AMD is pleased with the strong momentum of 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processors in the PC enthusiast and gaming communities. We closely monitor community feedback on our products and understand that some 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen users are reporting boost clock speeds below the expected processor boost frequency.
While processor boost frequency is dependent on many variables including workload, system design, and cooling solution, we have closely reviewed the feedback from our customers and have identified an issue in our firmware that reduces boost frequency in some situations. We are in the process of preparing a BIOS update for our motherboard partners that addresses that issue and includes additional boost performance optimizations. We will provide an update on September 10 to the community regarding the availability of the BIOS.
We’re not sure about a couple of things here; namely, how are fixes going to be accomplished? AMD is not going to do anything that reduces the lifespan of a product, so we can hope that there was in fact a bug that somehow went under the company’s radar, and soon, we will see those advertised speeds reliably.
This might be naive, but it seems to us that marketing could have advertised these parts a little differently and avoided this entire mess. It seems like AMD really wanted to make as large an impact with Zen 2 as possible, and perhaps it was too aggressive with clocks as a result. Had these chips all been marketed with 100MHz chopped off the peak clock, no one would have thought much about it. Instead, those who ended up exceeding the advertised clocks would have felt like they were getting extra value.
AMD said that it will give us more information on September 10, but that doesn’t mean that’s the day when we’ll see the EFI update. If current trends continue, the EFI may come well after, with some vendors proving a bit better at release speeds than others. Either way, we doubt anyone is losing sleep over these clock discrepancies, so most can probably afford to wait. It’s not as though it’s an actual roadblock like the systemd and Destiny 2 maladies were after launch.