Asus AM3 motherboards get beta BIOS, Bulldozer support

By on March 18, 2011, 4:28 AM
Asus has been quick to announce they are the first manufacturer to offer beta BIOS updates for current AM3 motherboards, receiving instant support for AMD's upcoming Bulldozer processors.

Although AMD's processor refresh is still a few months away, we have come to learn many interesting details about the 32nm CPUs in recent weeks. It's been unofficially confirmed that the company will abandon its Sempron, Athlon and Phenom branding in favor of the FX and A-Series nomenclature, spanning offerings in all price ranges, packing Radeon graphics and sporting up to eight cores on the higher-end models.

Asus AM3 motherboards that get Bulldozer support after a BIOS update are as follows: Crosshair IV Extreme, Crosshair IV Formula, M4A89TD PRO/USB3, M4A89TD PRO, M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, M4A89GTD PRO.


Note that all products above are based on the AMD 890FX + SB850 chipset combination, hinting that similarly equipped motherboards from other manufacturers might follow suit ahead of Bulldozer's release. Interestingly though, this contradicts what AMD claimed last August when they stated that Bulldozer would require the new AM3+ socket.

Going with AMD's desktop platform in 2010 was a risky bet, although as demonstrated in our analysis, on the lower price brackets they did possess a compelling set of products. Today your bet could be paying off as Intel owners wanting to upgrade to Sandy Bridge are forced to switch motherboards once again, while AMD (either willingly or forcefully) is about to give a breath of fresh air to its existing AM3 platform.




User Comments: 30

Got something to say? Post a comment
Mizzou Mizzou said:

This would be a really pleasant surprise, if I can drop a Bulldozer in my Gigabyte MA790FXT-UD5P AM3 board I'll be one happy camper. If ASUS can do it, surely Gigabyte will be soon to follow.

fpsgamerJR62 said:

Good news for users on the AM3 platform if the rest of the motherboard manufacturers follow the lead of Asustek regarding enabling support for the new Bulldozer CPUs in their existing AM3 boards. My only concern is that PC users who install the new AM3+ CPUs on their existing boards may not be able to activate all the features of the new processors. As for myself, since I'm currently running an AM2 board, whatever upgrade path that I choose will necessarily require the whole package of motherboard, memory and CPU since DDR2-based platforms are pretty much obsolete.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Mizzou said:

This would be a really pleasant surprise, if I can drop a Bulldozer in my Gigabyte MA790FXT-UD5P AM3 board I'll be one happy camper. If ASUS can do it, surely Gigabyte will be soon to follow.

It appears this compatibility is only for the 890/850 chipset MB's

R3DP3NGUIN R3DP3NGUIN said:

I guess this is good news for people who have just upgraded, but since this is a completely redesigned CPU you should atleast have the board it was designed for, plus to get the full potential of new architecture. I just wish it was released in 1 month not 3, im so ready to upgrade my 955.

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

When are the bulldozer cpus going to be released?

Mizzou Mizzou said:

It appears this compatibility is only for the 890/850 chipset MB's

Oh well, sounded too good to be true

HaMsTeYr HaMsTeYr said:

I wonder if gigabyte would add support for bulldozer for the 790XT-USB3... Please do Please do.

Guest said:

Compability will soon arrive to 870 and 880 chipsets,says the Asus website, if you dig enough. Not at this time maybe, but it will arrive that's for sure.

bimboy56 said:

This is one of the reasons why I continue to support AMD.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

R3DP3NGUIN said:

I guess this is good news for people who have just upgraded, but since this is a completely redesigned CPU you should atleast have the board it was designed for, plus to get the full potential of new architecture. I just wish it was released in 1 month not 3, im so ready to upgrade my 955.

I've got a computer that I'm upgrading in bursts for a friend... He's got a 955 as well, and is anxious to move up, but doesn't have lots of cash all at once (and his mobo chipset is not one that can be updated for AM3+). So, we're going incremental. Watching for a good AM3+ motherboard that we feel would make a good foundation for his system. Once that's available, we grab that and memory. Since the AM3+ boards are supposed to be fully backwards compatible with AM3 processors, we can keep the 955 for now, and then grab a BD processor when they are available (and he has the money again). Odds are he may run 6 months or more with the 955, and it's nice to have that option.

Which reminds me... Has anyone seen actual AM3+ boards available in the wild yet? Still none on Newegg, but I seem to recall seeing several "AM3+ boards now available" mentions throughout the net fairly recently... Most reports indicated Q1 of 2011 for release of those boards, as well.

Mizzou Mizzou said:

Which reminds me... Has anyone seen actual AM3+ boards available in the wild yet? Still none on Newegg, but I seem to recall seeing several "AM3+ boards now available" mentions throughout the net fairly recently... Most reports indicated Q1 of 2011 for release of those boards, as well.

I've seen listings for a DFI Lanparty that's supposed to be AM3+ but not really sure it's for real with the chipset it lists.

http://www.amamax.com/dfilabi78soa.html

CamaroMullet said:

Mizzou said:

Which reminds me... Has anyone seen actual AM3+ boards available in the wild yet? Still none on Newegg, but I seem to recall seeing several "AM3+ boards now available" mentions throughout the net fairly recently... Most reports indicated Q1 of 2011 for release of those boards, as well.

I've seen listings for a DFI Lanparty that's supposed to be AM3+ but not really sure it's for real with the chipset it lists.

http://www.amamax.com/dfilabi78soa.html

Has to be a typo. It has a 785G northbridge.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Good discussion here: [link]

From that discussion: AM3+ requires a new socket, but these sockets are already shipping in new AM3 motherboards, so these boards will be upgradable to an AM3+ compatible BIOS. Which means that AM3+ won't magically appear on old boards, but it's possible to buy new AM3 boards in the knowledge that they'll be compatible with AM3+.

Leeky Leeky said:

Which means that AM3+ won't magically appear on old boards, but it's possible to buy new AM3 boards in the knowledge that they'll be compatible with AM3+.

Assuming of course its been built since that decision was made. Older, bulk stock certainly won't be any better, and I see many people getting caught out by this.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

I guess this is good news for people who have just upgraded, but since this is a completely redesigned CPU you should atleast have the board it was designed for, plus to get the full potential of new architecture. I just wish it was released in 1 month not 3, im so ready to upgrade my 955.

That has been a portion of the debate. It looks possible that the ( or some of them anyway) 890/850 MB's may have actually been BD (AM3+) to begin with. I keep looking for it to be written somewhere that " the 890/850 motherboards will be compatible with limited functionality" , or something along those lines. I have not found that yet.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Guest said:

Compability will soon arrive to 870 and 880 chipsets,says the Asus website.

Definitely good news and that interests me the most.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

The mechanics of the whole thing >>here<< -conditions that need to be met (present AM3 socket boards) and possible feature set restrictions. Which is probably why John Fruehe (AMD's Director of Marketing-Server) is on record ( i.e. here and here )in numerous instances as saying that AM3 does not support Bulldozer -as opposed to Bulldozer not being functional in an AM3 socket.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

If anyone wants to play with/try out (the Asus) CF4 beta bios for BD compatibility, you can get it here. As always make sure you read all of the admonishments, impugning, castigations, and warnings before you do.

[link]

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Bulldozer should be waaaaaay popular judging by the three threads we have up and running. Kind of makes if a coin-toss as to where to post the info

Guest said:

For months? Are we just expecting AMD to miss its due date again, because last I checked, they said end of Q1(-ish) for Zambezi. Llano is the only offering confirmed months away. I grant you, they've held onto release information w. the tightest buttcheeks in history, so there is no certainty- the old leaked timeline had them at June, and knowing them, that seems more their speed. But they promised, and we've played this game w. them a _few_ times. If they don't deliver by April...May 1... game up. I'm no longer amused by their ability to weld a couple of GPUs together. CPUs please.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Bulldozer should be waaaaaay popular judging by the three threads we have up and running. Kind of makes if a coin-toss as to where to post the info

I kind of took care of that in my previous post

*** @ Chef,

Think Its a fair estimation (from your article link above that this is a bit of 'overbuilding'? put another way, if the raised voltage and spikes were much beyond what they are now, they would not even offer support for the higher end AM3 boards? ...I mean ...it would be a warranty nightmare...paging XFX!!!

Guest said:

Lemme ask you, would you want them if they were? OTOH, we hear "forward compatibility!!!" and on the other we hear AMD is missing showcases b/c they are "unhappy with the chipset". I'll just wait around for 990FX or wth they'll name it.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Think Its a fair estimation (from your article link above that this is a bit of 'overbuilding'? put another way, if the raised voltage and spikes were much beyond what they are now, they would not even offer support for the higher end AM3 boards? ...I mean ...it would be a warranty nightmare...paging XFX!!!

Not sure what you're asking here. If BD needed a VRM in excess of the multi-phase Hi-C caps in present use then I'd suggest AMD might have a problem on it's hands. As for voltage demand, I would hope that Bulldozer is a little more frugal than the 140w version of the 965, which is already supported across the board(!) with the 800 series chipset boards.

Luckily for the computer enthusiast, XFX haven't been a factor in mobo production since their X58I-CH19 abomination thankfully departed store shelves.

Talking of XFX, I'd say that their PR department probably wont be getting a Christmas card from the groups accountants. Here's a fun picture (graph 4) of the 6990's power demand -note that the nominal current draw for an 8pin PCIe is 12.5A. Given that more than a few high-wattage PSU's run more than one PCIe per 12v rail, I'd say that XFX won't be offering the 6990 at knockdown prices

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Not sure what you're asking here. If BD needed a VRM in excess of the multi-phase Hi-C caps in present use then I'd suggest AMD might have a problem on it's hands.

What I meant was that after reading your link, was that the boards that are getting this AM3+ compatibility must be able to handle the power regulation/delivery. Otherwise Asus would not have done this. They are not going to subject themselves to a burned board RMA frenzy. I am seeing comments out there crying foul that the AM3 boards will not be able to handle the BD and its power requirements. I wonder if this has any impact on LLC? I have it enabled, but I really have no Idea if it has much of an impact on a board that has quality caps/regulator to begin with.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

What I meant was that after reading your link, was that the boards that are getting this AM3+ compatibility must be able to handle the power regulation/delivery. Otherwise Asus would not have done this.

So we won't be seeing ECS following suit then?!

Seems to be a marketing coup for AMD. I would imagine that all the vendors will still be touting some miniscule feature that makes the 990FX/X a must-have chipset, and if performance is king then the majority of Crossfire IV Extreme owners would update to the Crossfire V Extreme (as example). However, it does make BD a somewhat cheap upgrade path and might accelerate adoption.

No doubt Asus' viral marketing will be hard at work making the distinction between Asus boards and other vendors where the AM3+ compatibility seems limited to new board revisions - more a double dipping scenario for Gigabyte, ASRock and MSI- and no doubt Foxconn will announce 890 + AM3+ compatibility around the same time at the AM4 socket is released!.

I doubt you'll see a full electrical spec for BD before launch, and since AMD aren't supporting BD on AM3 boards I think the new adopters-like yourself- will be the beta testers so far as LLC is concerned.

It might be worthwhile picking up a C4F or M4A89TD Pro for myself just to give it a whirl if resale prices drop as info from vendor-seeded "leaks" regarding 990FX/X mobo's start to surface in earnest.

os2wiz said:

You aren't reading Mizzou. They specified 890FX chipset motherboards NOT 790FX as you and I both have.

cmbjive said:

This is good news. I'm currently gathering the bits to build a new computer and hearing that the Bulldozer lineup can be dropped into an existing ASUS board will cement my decision to pick up one of those boards.

Guest said:

So no Bulldozer for a M4A77TD? *sigh*

T77 T77 said:

I always like that part. One doesn't have to buy an all new mobo for just upgrading the chip. I wish Intel would learn something from this....

Guest said:

FX6110 bench cam shot

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/41/bdfx6110.jpg/

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.