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- Feb 5, 2017
Demonstrating their commitment to keep improving the AM4 platform, AMD has just published a suite of details that their upcoming AGESA 126.96.36.199 firmware. Of particular interest here, the latest firmware is going to enhance memory overclocking and compability, as well as add a much needed virtualization-related feature.
AGESA is an acronym for “AMD Generic Encapsulated System Architecture", and it is essentially the foundational code on which BIOS files for AM4 motherboards are built. When the Ryzen AM4 platform was launched back in March, the early AGESA versions lacked a lot of the core capabilities and settings that we have come to expect from a modern platform. As a result, motherboard manufacturers did not have a lot to work with when it came to creating feature-rich custom BIOSes for their own motherboards. Since then AMD has been pretty vocal and proactive about fixing any bugs, opening up new BIOS features, and improving overclocking.
With this new AGESA version, AMD has added 26 new memory-related parameters. The most dramatic improvement is the significant expansion of memory speed options. If we exclude base block overclocking - which relatively few motherboards support - the AM4 platform has thus far been effectively limited to memory speeds of DDR4-3200. Not only that, but the supported range of options from DDR4-1866 to DDR4-3200 was in large 266MT/s increments. With AGESA 188.8.131.52, memory frequencies have not only been expanded all the way up to DDR4-4000, but between DDR4-2667 and DDR4-4000 the increments have been reduced to 133MT/s. Not only does this mean that more memory kits will be able to be run at their rated speed - and not get kicked down to the nearest supported speed - but it also significantly reduces the high-speed memory gap that the AM4 platform had with Intel's mainstream LGA1151 platform.
The other important announcement is the unlocking of about two dozen memory timings. Up until now, only five primary memory timings have been adjustable and there wasn't even a command rate option, which was natively locked to the most aggressive 1T setting. All of this should help improve overclocking and most importantly compatibility with large swathe of DDR4 memory kits that have largely been engineered with Intel platforms in mind.
The last addition should excite those interested in virtualization. AMD has announced "fresh support" for PCI Express Access Control Services (ACS), which enables the ability to manually assign PCIe graphics cards within IOMMU groups. This should be a breath of fresh air to those who have previously tried to dedicate a GPU to a virtual machine on a Ryzen system, since it has thus far been fraught with difficulties.
AMD has already distributed the AGESA 184.108.40.206 to its motherboard partners, so BIOS updates should be available starting in mid to late June. Having said that, there are apparently beta versions currently available for the ASUS Crosshair VI and GIGABYTE GA-AX370-Gaming 5.
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