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Gigabyte's B550 Motherboard Is PCIe 4.0 Heaven

(Image credit: BenchLife)

AMD B550 motherboards won't touch ground until June 16. However, Chinese news outlet BenchLife has already given us a sneak peek of one of Gigabyte's more premium offerings. The B550 Aorus Master motherboard appears to bring many interesting features, one of which is the ability to house three PCIe 4.0 SSDs

The B550 Aorus Master comes equipped with AMD's budget B550 chipset and perennial AM4 socket. The power delivery subsystem on the motherboard looks very potent with what appears to be a 16-phase design. On the power side, there's a combination of a 4-pin and 8-pin EPS power connectors. 

One thing is clear. Gigabyte engineered the B550 Aorus Master to house even the most demanding Ryzen parts, such as the 16-core AMD Ryzen 9 3950X and future Zen 3 CPUs.

Remember, PCIe 4.0 support doesn't come from the B550 chipset itself. Instead, it comes from the CPU, namely AMD's Ryzen 3000-series (codename Matisse) processors. 

As spotted by BenchLife, the B550 Aorus Master seems to arrive with three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 ports. That's a pretty big deal since most B550 motherboards only bring PCIe 4.0 support on the primary PCIe x16 slot and M.2 slot. Therefore, the primary M.2 slot is likely linked to the Ryzen chip, while the other two M.2 slots share bandwidth with the PCIe x16 connection. There's a good possibility that the PCIe switches partition the PCIe x16 slot and secondary and tertiary M.2 slots to run at an x8, x4 and x4 configuration, respectively.

On another note, AMD enabled dual-graphics card support with the B550 chipset. The B550 Aorus Master supplies three PCIe x16 slots. The primary slot is probably PCIe 4.0, while the remaining expansion slots are likely to be PCIe 3.0 and wired x4 electrically.

Other features on the B550 Aorus Master include a debug LED, four DDR4 RAM slots, six SATA III ports, eight 4-pin fan headers, two USB 2.0 headers and one USB 3.2 Gen 1 header. Sadly, BenchLife didn't share an image of the motherboard's rear panel, so we're uncertain of the layout.

  • COLGeek
    Courtesy and respect are "must haves" folks. Civility is an absolute requirement.

    Either be courteous, or remain silent.

    Attack ideas, with facts and sources. Do not attack people.

    Now, lets try this again.

    Oh yeah, NEVER feed trolls. Just report them. 'Nuf said.
    Reply
  • AlistairAB
    This looks amazing if it is a lower price, like $200 USD. I'm afraid it will be like X570 and way too high though.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    I'd like to see the table of mutually exclusive functions on those boards.
    Reply
  • ShattaAD
    AlistairAB said:
    This looks amazing if it is a lower price, like $200 USD. I'm afraid it will be like X570 and way too high though.

    B550 chipset is intended for the budget minded. My guess is that this board will cost anywhere from $185-$235...MSRP.
    Reply
  • AlistairAB
    ShattaAD said:
    B550 chipset is intended for the budget minded. My guess is that this board will cost anywhere from $185-$235...MSRP.

    That may be true, but we've never yet seen an affordable board with 3 x m.2, so better keep expectations in check.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    AlistairAB said:
    That may be true, but we've never yet seen an affordable board with 3 x m.2, so better keep expectations in check.
    16 phases aren't going to be cheap either. This is likely going to be one of the top-10 most expensive B550 boards.

    I'd be more interested in finding out where $100-ish B550 boards are going for VRM and how they will split the chipset's limited PCIe/SATA budget.
    Reply
  • Toni Vicente
    My B450 max have 10 days 😩
    Reply
  • drea.drechsler
    InvalidError said:
    I'd like to see the table of mutually exclusive functions on those boards.
    Me too....I'm sitting here wondering how you'll get 3 PCIe gen 4 NVME's functioning since the B550 chipset furnishes only Gen 3 lanes to devices.

    I'm thinking the GPU socket will be lowered to 8x Gen 4 lanes. That's effectively the same bandwidth as 16x Gen 3 lanes so a Navi GPU on the board will work just the same as it would on any 300 or 400 series board.

    But more concerning to me is let's say you have three Gen 3 NVME's. Does this mean you'll HAVE to give up the 16x lanes to your GPU since they're going to be steered to the NVME's even if to be initialized at a mere Gen3? Can the CPU initialize 1/2 the GPU lanes at gen 3 and 1/2 at gen 4...will your Navi be gimped to 8x Gen3 like it or not?

    Or will the board have smart enough PCIe steering to pull lanes from the chipset in that case to spare gimping the GPU? Is that even possible? I can't imagine the PWA layout challenges that would entail while keeping costs in line.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    drea.drechsler said:
    Or will the board have smart enough PCIe steering to pull lanes from the chipset in that case to spare gimping the GPU? Is that even possible?
    Possible, yes. Practical, no.

    The two extra NVMe 4.0 slots necessarily come from splitting the x16 GPU slot into x8x4x4 and each PCIe host controller has independent clock, different speeds for each slice shouldn't be an issue. For boards that don't rob lanes from x16, an extra NVMe x4 slot would eat four out of 10 possible chipset PCIe lanes and four of those are shared with SATA, doesn't leave much PCIe budget for PCIe slots on an ATX-size board. I would have liked B550 to have two extra flex IO lanes so having a 3rd SATA device didn't mean having to give up on an x4 secondary NVMe or PCIe slot.
    Reply
  • drea.drechsler
    InvalidError said:
    Possible, yes. Practical, no.

    The two extra NVMe 4.0 slots necessarily come from splitting the x16 GPU slot into x8x4x4 and each PCIe host controller has independent clock, different speeds for each slice shouldn't be an issue. For boards that don't rob lanes from x16, an extra NVMe x4 slot would eat four out of 10 possible chipset PCIe lanes and four of those are shared with SATA, doesn't leave much PCIe budget for PCIe slots on an ATX-size board. I would have liked B550 to have two extra flex IO lanes so having a 3rd SATA device didn't mean having to give up on an x4 secondary NVMe or PCIe slot.
    Those sound like similar issues with B350 and B450...and why I felt they're more suitable for mATX applications. But mATX is in disfavor, for some reason, in AM4. So they do strange things, like leaving large swaths of open board space with no PCIe sockets or gimped-but-showy 16x4 PCIe sockets that disable anyway, becoming completely useless, as you add other devices just to make a board that fills up an ATX case.

    I really think they should leave the 3 by gen 4 NVME solutions to the X570 line and keep B550 in the somewhat more budget realm. I totally can see people buying this and being surprised to see the compromises when they start populating all the NVME's. I don't know why they have to screw up the obvious product segmentation opportunities that the two chipsets offer.
    Reply