MSI Re-Enables AVX-512 Support on Alder Lake CPUs

(Image credit: Intel)

MSI released a new firmware for select Intel Z690 motherboards that re-enables support of AVX-512 instructions on Intel's 12th Generation Core 'Alder Lake' processors, which already make up a third of our Best CPUs for Gaming. The move will speed up some applications, but as Intel disabled AVX-512 from its latest CPUs in the first place, why would it be happy with MSI's decision to reverse this?

MSI recently released firmware (version 7D28vA22 beta) for its MEG Z690 Unify-X motherboard that re-enables AVX-512 with a microcode selector switch in the BIOS/UEFI, reports Xaver Amberger (via VideoCardz). The switch appears to be fully operational, so assuming that a particular Alder Lake CPU sample has working AVX-512 hardware, the chip can pass the appropriate benchmarks (e.g., y-cruncher) much faster than chips without AVX-512 activated.

As Intel was preparing to launch its 12th Generation Core 'Alder Lake' processors, including the Core i9-12900K, it indicated that (P)erformance cores fully supported AVX-512 instructions, just like their predecessors. Indeed, the processors feature appropriate hardware units. But because Alder Lake's (E)fficiency cores lack AVX-512 support, to ensure overall stability, Intel decided to disable AVX-512 support from consumer Alder Lake processors just months before launch. This is why many initial motherboards came with microcode with enabled AVX-512, something that caused serious confusion and required Intel to issue a new default microcode that 'permanently' disabled the technology. Except, it clearly didn't.

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AVX-512 instructions are required for encoding/decoding, cryptography, scientific, and various professional applications. Gamers and users of regular applications hardly need AVX-512, so disabling all the E-cores to get AVX-512 may not make a lot of sense. Still, for specific use cases where AVX-512 can help, it doesn't seem like fully cutting off that functionality would hurt Intel — especially on CPU models that inherently lack E-cores, like the Core i5-12400.

It remains to be seen whether Intel's Alder Lake-6C processors can re-enable AVX-512. Those inexpensive chips only have P-cores, so re-enabling AVX-512 will automatically boost their performance in select programs without many risks. Intel may also respond with a stronger solution for disabling AVX-512, though if you don't update your BIOS, you should be able to keep the functionality.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.