Skip to main content

Ryzen Burnout? AMD Board Power Cheats May Shorten CPU Lifespan (Updated)

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Update 6/20/20 7:25am PT: We tested several motherboards and firmware revisions, finding that one motherboard vastly misreported its power telemetry data, resulting in higher performance. However, newer BIOS revisions corrected the issue. We also found that other motherboards send power data that can result in slightly reduced performance. According to our testing, while the HWinfo tool does shine a light on some issues, it's readings aren't entirely accurate. You can see the full testing here.  

Update 6/11/2020 8:10am PT: 

AMD issued a statement today to Tom's Hardware regarding a feature from software vendor HWinfo that exposes that motherboard vendors have developed firmwares that misreport key power telemetry data to Ryzen processors. As covered in the article below, the developers stated this could have an impact on processor longevity. Here's AMD's statement:

"We are aware of the reports claiming that select motherboards may be under-reporting certain power telemetry data that could alter the performance and/or behavior of AMD Ryzen processors under certain conditions. We are looking into the accuracy of these reports. 

"We want to be clear with our customers: AMD Ryzen processors contain a diverse array of internal safeguards that operate independently of external data sources. These safeguards enforce the safety and reliability of the processor during stock operation. Based on our initial assessment, we do not believe that altering external telemetry in the manner described by those public reports would have a material impact on the longevity or safety of a user's processor."

It's good to hear that AMD is investigating the matter and that based on its initial assessment, the company doesn't believe the misreported power values will cause the processor to work in a way that will have a material impact on longevity. AMD's statement doesn't entirely rule out the possibility of a reduced lifespan due to the adjustments, but given the company's engineering teams have obviously studied the matter to some extent, it's obvious they haven't yet seen any adjustments that could result in significant degradation during the warranty period that users should worry about. 

The statement seemingly confirms that AMD wasn't aware of the manipulations. It will be interesting to see if motherboard vendors end the practice, or if AMD finds that the adjustments don't adversely impact longevity, the company allows it to continue. According to our testing, the condition does exist on a few motherboards we have in the lab. Stay tuned for our full report. 

Original Article: 

Unbeknownst to you, your motherboard may be silently killing your Ryzen processor faster than expected. HWinfo introduced a new feature today that the vendor says exposes that some X570 motherboard vendors are clandestinely misreporting key measurements to AMD's Ryzen processors, thus boosting performance. Unfortunately, this tactic is similar to overclocking, but occurs at stock settings. As a result, the chip draws more power and generates more heat, thus potentially reducing the lifespan of Ryzen chips – but all without the user's knowledge.

It's a common practice for motherboard vendors to adjust the chip's stock power limits to squeeze out more performance from a processor, thus positioning their motherboards as faster than competing models. In fact, nearly every motherboard vendor makes adjustments with Intel's chips, but there's a big difference: Intel expressly approves and even encourages motherboard vendors to adjust power limits to differentiate their products, and those adjustments don't impact chip longevity within the warranty period.

According to a post by The Stilt on HWinfo forums, the method used by some motherboard vendors to boost performance on X570 motherboards consists of the motherboard willfully misrepresenting power consumption to Ryzen processors that are assigned to operate at normal stock settings. In contrast to the approach taken with Intel processors, this practice reportedly isn't sanctioned by AMD and could result in a shorter lifespan for the chip.

The Stilt's post is worth reading over for the details, but here's a nice summation from the report:

"In short: Some motherboard manufacturers intentionally declare an incorrect (too small) motherboard specific reference value in AGESA. Since AM4 Ryzen CPUs rely on telemetry sourced from the motherboard VRM to determine their power consumption, declaring an incorrect reference value will affect the power consumption seen by the CPU. For instance, if the motherboard manufacturer would declare 50% of the correct value, the CPU would think it consumes half the power than it actually does.

"In this case, the CPU would allow itself to consume twice the power of its set power limits, even when at stock. It allows the CPU to clock higher due to the effectively lifted power limits; however, it also makes the CPU run hotter and potentially negatively affects its life-span, the same ways as overclocking does. The difference compared to overclocking or using AMD PBO, is that this is done completely clandestine and that in the past, there has been no way for most of the end-users to detect it, or react to it." [Emphasis added]

(Image credit: HWinfo)

HWinfo's new tool provides a means for users to determine if their motherboard is lying to their Ryzen chips with the rationale that, "Since at least two of the largest motherboard manufacturers still insist on using this exploit to gain an advantage over their competitors despite being constantly asked and told not to, we thought it would be only fair to allow the consumers to see if their boards are doing something they're not supposed to do."

"I'd like to stress that despite this exploit is essentially made possible by something AMD has included in the specification, the use of this exploit is not something AMD condones with, let alone promotes. Instead they have rather actively put pressure on the motherboard manufacturers, who have been caught using this exploit," The Stilt added. 

HWinfo's new "CPU Power Reporting Deviation" feature allows a user to detect any shenanigans in the motherboard firmware, and it's free to download and use. You simply have to put your CPU under load by using any common multi-threaded test (Cinebench R20 is recommended) and then monitor the value to see its relation to 100%, which represents that the motherboard is feeding correct values to the Ryzen processor so it can modulate performance within expected tolerances. 

We're spinning up a few power tests of our own to assess how well the feature works, and of course, to see which vendors are misrepresenting their power consumption figures. We're also reaching out to all the relevant players, AMD included. Stay tuned. 

  • flyrobot27
    Bruh Isn't that the same thing as Intel's MCE? This is such a shill post
    Reply
  • Deicidium369
    So admitting that the Ryzen CPU WILL burn out - even without the motherboard shenanigans. Is this called "Heritage Mode" by chance - because the Athlon XPs loved to burn up. Some things never change.

    This is why AMD keeps AM4 around - since it's CPUs WILL burn out at some point - and need to be replaced. All makes sense now.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    flyrobot27 said:
    Bruh Isn't that the same thing as Intel's MCE? This is such a shill post

    He wast calling out AMD but instead the motherboard manufactures. Did you even read this article?
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    What happens when you take a 3700X, manually set it to 4300mhz all cores, and use 1.2v? Efficiency!

    Reply
  • escksu
    "however, it also makes the CPU run hotter and potentially negatively affects its life-span, the same ways as overclocking ".
    "Intel expressly approves and even encourages motherboard vendors to adjust power limits to differentiate their products, and those adjustments don't impact chip longevity within the warranty period. ""In contrast, this practice reportedly isn't sanctioned by AMD and could kill your chip sooner than expected. "
    PBO itself is overclocking, period.......

    And then, I am not sure what the article is implying..... Is it saying that Intel chips are good for oc and AMD sucks?? I don't know....
    Reply
  • ezst036
    Deicidium369 said:
    So admitting that the Ryzen CPU WILL burn out - even without the motherboard shenanigans. Is this called "Heritage Mode" by chance - because the Athlon XPs loved to burn up. Some things never change.

    This is why AMD keeps AM4 around - since it's CPUs WILL burn out at some point - and need to be replaced. All makes sense now.

    If you read the link that goes to hwinfo .com you will see that this is the motherboard vendors doing it, not AMD. Specifically named was MSI. It looks like another user reported their Gigabyte board doing it.

    I doubt AMD thought to themselves in early/mid 2016 "You know what? MSI is going to juice our processors in 2020, so we better build AM4 to last!"

    Separately I had a thought about running processors on the hot side, albeit at stock ratings.

    Personally, I keep a spare processor on hand. I run my processors fanless, with massive heatsinks in order to get 100% silence. No fans, fanless power supply, everything. Even at full load I rarely go above the mid-hi 40C range. As I type this it's just under 20C.

    Processors get cheap fairly quickly on Ebay, after a few years. So that its said, I hope the motherboard vendors issue a BIOS update to correct this, now that they have been caught and called out.
    Reply
  • escksu
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    What happens when you take a 3700X, manually set it to 4300mhz all cores, and use 1.2v? Efficiency!



    LOL, I think some of us have read about excessive voltage used by PBO....So, how ironic.....
    Reply
  • Dijky
    Deicidium369 said:
    So admitting that the Ryzen CPU WILL burn out - even without the motherboard shenanigans.
    Where did you get that from?

    Anyway, it's true that silicon ICs will degrade over time. That applies to varying extents at all voltage/power/temperature levels across all manufacturers.
    The typical effect is that an IC will gradually requiring higher voltage to achieve a certain frequency, and ultimately fail.
    The specification targets a certain rather long lifetime, but increasing the operating parameters beyond specification can significantly reduce it.
    This is not news and is widely known to overclockers.

    Deicidium369 said:
    This is why AMD keeps AM4 around - since it's CPUs WILL burn out at some point - and need to be replaced. All makes sense now.
    Be advised that excessive weight of tinfoil on your head can cause neck pain.

    escksu said:
    And then, I am not sure what the article is implying..... Is it saying that Intel chips are good for oc and AMD sucks?? I don't know....

    I'm reading the article and also The Stilt's original post as putting the blame on mainboard makers here, because they are violating the specification:

    "I'd like to stress that despite this exploit is essentially made possible by something AMD has included in the specification, the use of this exploit is not something AMD condones with, let alone promotes. Instead they have rather actively put pressure on the motherboard manufacturers, who have been caught using this exploit," The Stilt added.
    Reply
  • escksu
    ezst036 said:
    If you read the link that goes to hwinfo .com you will see that this is the motherboard vendors doing it, not AMD. Specifically named was MSI. It looks like another user reported their Gigabyte board doing it.

    I doubt AMD thought to themselves in early/mid 2016 "You know what? MSI is going to juice our processors in 2020, so we better build AM4 to last!"

    Separately I had a thought about running processors on the hot side, albeit at stock ratings.

    Personally, I keep a spare processor on hand. I run my processors fanless, with massive heatsinks in order to get 100% silence. No fans, fanless power supply, everything. Even at full load I rarely go above the mid-hi 40C range. As I type this it's just under 20C.

    Processors get cheap fairly quickly on Ebay, after a few years.

    Sounds like you are living near north pole......
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    escksu said:
    LOL, I think some of us have read about excessive voltage used by PBO....So, how ironic.....

    If a value of 50% means it is consuming twice as much power as it reports, then a value of 150% means it is consuming half as much power as it reports, then again it expects to be running at an all core speed of something like 4100mhz at 1.4v, not 4300mhz at 1.2v.
    Reply