Hong Kong media HKEPC has reportedly revealed the specifications for the AMD B550 chipset in its review of ASRock's X570 Creator motherboard.
While the X570 motherboards might have a lot to offer, budget PC builders are waiting for a more accessible option. That's where the B550 chipset comes in. The B550 chipset will have some limitations compared to X570, but will ultimately allow for more budget-friendly boards for people with AMD Ryzen 3000-series CPUs.
|Chipset||Segment||USB 3.2 Gen 2||USB 2.0||SATA||Uplink||PCIe Lanes||RAID||Dual GPU||OC Support|
|X570||Enthusiast||8||4||4 + 8||x4 Gen 4||8 + 8 Gen 4||0, 1, 10||Yes||Yes|
|X470 / X370||Enthusiast||2||6||6||x4 Gen 3||8 Gen 2||0, 1, 10||Yes||Yes|
|B550*||Mainstream||2||6||4 + 4||x4 Gen 3||8 Gen 2 + 4 Gen 3||0, 1, 10||Yes||Yes|
|B450 / B350||Mainstream||2||6||4||x4 Gen 3||6 Gen 2||0, 1, 10||Yes||Yes|
*Specifications are not confirmed
Like previous AMD 300-series chipsets, the B550 chipset is allegedly equipped with two USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) and six USB 2.0 ports. Unfortunately, HKEPC didn't indicate the number of USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports for the B550 chipset. When it comes to storage, the B550 chipset can provide up to eight SATA III ports, which is only four less than what you would find on the high-end X570 chipset. Nevertheless, the B550 chipset offers more storage capacity than the previous flagship X470 chipset, which was limited to only six SATA III ports. As expected, the B550 chipset supports RAID 0, 1 and 10 arrays. It'll also support dual graphics card setups and overclocking.
The X570 chipset employs four high-speed PCIe 4.0 lanes for the uplink to the processor. On the contrary, the B550 chipset looks like it will retain the same configuration as past AMD chipsets, which are four PCIe 3.0 lanes. While we're on the topic of PCIe lanes, the B550 chipset brings a couple of interesting improvements. As we already know, the X570 chipset delivers up to 16 general-purpose PCIe 4.0 lanes for motherboard vendors to distribute among other devices. The B550 chipset seemingly supplies four PCIe 3.0 lanes and eight PCIe 2.0 lanes for the same purpose. This is pretty significant, considering the X470 and X370 chipsets only have eight general-purpose PCIe 2.0 lanes while the B450 and B350 chipsets are restricted to six PCIe 2.0 lanes.
According to a posting from German retailer Alternate, pre-built desktops that employ AMD B550 motherboards could debut as soon as next month. However, a DigiTimes report claimed that motherboard manufacturers will receive their B550 orders in the fourth quarter, which suggests a later release date for AMD B550-based motherboards.
I still find it hard to believe the cost of the chipset is the sole cause of the hike in motherboard prices, in some cases by over $100.
It's not. I believe the main reasons are the much beefier power delivery, and the better traces for both PCIe 4 (potentially with retimers) and faster supported memory. These then require more PCB layers and more engineering.
Also, since Ryzen is moving up in the world - starting to rival Intel's performance - the motherboard OEMs will feel they don't have to sell with cost or cost/perf only, and may have taken the opportunity to increase their margins.
The 16 lanes for the GPU are on the CPU rather than the chipset, so we could still well see gen4 support for GPUs coming (even if nobody has a use for it yet), while PCIe3 is still more than fast enough of a back-bone for SATA, USB, M.2 etc.