AMD heard the complaints from Ryzen 3000 series CPU owners that some chips were not hitting their advertised boost clocks as expected, and has issued new firmware code to its hardware partners to address the issue. What this means is, if you own a third-generation Ryzen processor, be on the lookout for a new BIOS update for your motherboard.
The issue came to light when renowned overclocker Roman "der8auer" Hartung conducted an online survey of Ryzen 3000 CPU owners to see how many people were hitting the advertised boost clocks on their chips. Surprisingly, there were quite a few people said they weren't. On the low end of the spectrum, just 5.6 percent of Ryzen 9 3900X owners who participated in the survey indicated their chips were hitting the max boost clock, and on the high side, 49.8 percent of Ryzen 5 3600 owners said they were.
AMD raised some fair points points about the survey. For one, the company noted that scorned users are more likely to participate, so the numbers could be skewed. There is also the variance from one platform to the next, as the motherboard, BIOS version, and which way the wind blows can all affect how a PC operates.
Nevertheless, AMD did say it discovered an algorithm issue that reduced the maximum boost frequency of 25-50MHz depending on the workload. This issue has been resolved in its latest firmware code.
"We expect our motherboard partners to make this update available as a patch in two to three weeks. Following the installation of the latest BIOS update, a consumer running a bursty, single threaded application on a PC with the latest software updates and adequate voltage and thermal headroom should see the maximum boost frequency of their processor," AMD said.
AMD says PCMark 10 is a "good, bursty workload proxy" for users to run in order to test if their CPU is hitting the advertised max clock. However, "it is expected that if users run a workload like Cinebench, which runs for an extended period of time, the operating frequencies may be less than the maximum throughout the run."
The BIOSes that resolve the issue AMD identified will be based on its AGESA 113ABBA code. AMD is also exploring other ways to optimize performance, which it says might further enhance the frequency of Ryzen 3000 CPUs. At the same time, AMD wants to temper frequency expectations. One thing that is important to note is that the advertised boost clock is based on a single-core temporarily hitting that speed. And of course cooling plays a big role, as do several other factors.
"Going forward, it’s important to understand how our boost technology operates. Our processors perform intelligent real-time analysis of the CPU temperature, motherboard voltage regulator current (amps), socket power (watts), loaded cores, and workload intensity to maximize performance from millisecond to millisecond. Ensuring your system has adequate thermal paste; reliable system cooling; the latest motherboard BIOS; reliable BIOS settings/configuration; the latest AMD chipset driver; and the latest operating system can enhance your experience," AMD explains.
On the flip side, the new firmware code also implements changes to help the processor ignore requests for voltage and frequency boosts from lightweight applications. For example, video playback and peripheral utilities tend to fall into this category, causing the CPU to be a "bit overzealous with boost."
"The changes primarily arrive in the form of an 'activity filter' that empowers the CPU boost algorithm itself to disregard intermittent OS and application background noise," AMD says.
AMD note this is not a cap that the CPU will still be free to boost an active workload that actually needs the added horsepower, it will just be more intelligent about it going forward.