With the recent launch of AMD’s new Zen 4 lineup of processors, it looks as though Socket AM4 has finally reached the end of the line. It served AMD well, as it was their premier socket that formed the base for everything from the first Ryzen CPUs (back in 2017) to the latest Ryzen 7 5800X3D CPU that launched a few months ago. In many cases, all you needed was a BIOS update to make even the oldest of AM4 motherboards capable of running the latest CPUs. But alas, with the industry moving to newer standards like DDR5, AMD is being forced to adapt, and with their Zen 4-based Ryzen 7000 processors, have come with a brand new socket platform called AM5.
AMD AM5 Socket: Motherboard, Release Date, Price, and More (2022)
This change in socket type from AM4 to AM5 has caused some confusion among PC enthusiasts. What does the switch to the AM5 socket entail in terms of performance and feature upgrades? We will answer that in this article. We’ve compiled all the relevant information one might need about the new AMD AM5 socket. We break down the various new aspects of both the new AM5 socket and Zen 4 processors to show you the major differences they have over their last-gen counterparts. However, one thing you should keep in mind is that all of this information is based on details shared by AMD, and we don’t have any hands on experience with AM5 motherboards and Zen 4 CPUs just yet.
What is the AMD AM5 Socket?
AMD first announced the release of the new AM5 socket all the way back in January 2022, but at that point in time, the company did not disclose any details about its feature set. But as time has passed, more and more information about the socket has been released, and now we can, with some reasonable confidence, say that AM5 socket brings plenty to the table.
AMD’s new Chip design (image courtesy: AMD)
The new AM5 platform not just brings the regular dose of performance improvements that we see every generation, with the new platform being a massive deviation from AM4 both in terms of design philosophy and feature set. The redesign also changes almost every aspect of the socket, from the pin arrangements (PGA to LGA) to the inclusion of integrated graphics.
Moreover, AMD has even changed the design of the integrated heat spreader that has been a standard for decades. So what are all the new changes with AM5 socket, and do they come at any sacrifices? We will explore that in our next section.
AM4 vs AM5: What’s the Difference?
Socket AM4 has been available for five years and used across three families of chipsets. From 2017 to 2022, CPU support notwithstanding, the socket has mostly remained unchanged. In fact, the last major update to the AM4 platform came with Zen 2 and the Ryzen 5000-series chipsets, all the way back in 2019, when they upgraded the PCI Express interface from 3.0 to 4.0.
This stagnation has created a strange scenario where AMD CPUs are seeing a regular bump in performance every year, but are lacking the most cutting-edge of standards. For example, the brilliant Zen 3 processors do not support DDR5 memory or PCIe 5.0, a standard that is supported by processors of their rivals – Intel. But AMD has finally awoken from this technological slumber and called for the end of AM4 socket, ushering in the age of renaissance for their PC processors.
Adding DDR5 Support
The most significant change in AMD’s AM5 socket is that it finally supports DDR5 RAM. However, unlike Intel’s Alder Lake, where the choice of memory was optional (DDR4 was supported), the socket AM5 processors will only support DDR5 (for now, at least). What this means is that if you have an old DDR4 RAM kit lying around, you won’t be able to use it with your new socket AM5 motherboards.
Small differences between DDR4 and DDR5 Modules
And it’s here that we see the very first difference from AM4, which even in its last iteration with the 500-series board did not support DDR5 memory. Why doesn’t the new AM5 socket support DDR4? Now we know that DDR5 requires a change in the pin layout as the new memory type has a built-in voltage controller. So this change could be a necessity as designing multiple boards for different memory types can be cumbersome.
Need For PCIE 5.0 (or not)
The other significant change that comes with the AM5 socket is support for PCI Express 5.0. AM4 did see an upgrade from PCIe 3.0 to 4.0 with the 400-series chipset boards, but it never received a Gen 5 upgrade. For all its worth, we don’t really know what its performance effect will be, at least in the near future. Even today, with the most powerful of GPUs, we hardly see any performance benefit moving from PCIe Gen 3 to PCIe Gen 4.
So for those wondering about what the upgrade will look like moving from PCIe Gen 4 to Gen 5? Not much, We would argue. Unless you’re not copying hundreds of gigabytes of data on your PCIe Gen 5 SSD, it’s not something to look forward to, as its real world impact will not be felt for years to come.
As to why AMD rolled out a DDR5 upgrade with the AM5 socket and not AM4, we simply don’t have an answer. But looking at the fact that PCIe 5.0 requires tighter tolerances and shorter circuit loops, we can assume that AMD was just not ready to fully commit to a total redesign of the AM4 platform. That means, for the time being, almost all the AM4 motherboards will only support DDR4 memory, and the AM5 motherboard will only support DDR5.
New LGA 1718 Platform
Moving on from the new memory and PCI 5.0 requirements, AMD has also taken this opportunity to move towards a new socket standard. With the AM5 socket, AMD is finally ditching the PGA (pin grid array) interface of socket AM4 for a more conventional Land gird array (LGA) interface. This is a significant change for AMD, as for a past decade, it has stuck with the PGA interface.
Intel, on the other hand, made this switch for its processors back in the LGA775 era, when we were still using Pentium 4 processors, and has never looked back.
AMD’s new LGA1718 socket
Why did AMD move to a new socket type? Many industry experts have argued that this move towards LGA has largely been a product of customer feedback. It’s much easier to break contact pins off the CPU, than it is to break pins off the motherboard. Furthermore, broken motherboards tend to be far cheaper to replace than a broken CPU, and maybe it’s because of this reason that AMD has moved towards the LGA standard.
Now, in the realm of performance, moving to a LGA type socket doesn’t necessarily lead to any outright gains, but it can lead to other advantages when the configuration of the pins change. And to nobody’s surprise AMD has done just that. The new AM5 socket comes with 1718 LGA pins, far more than the 1331 pins they had on their AM4 sockets.
This configuration puts AM5 socket on a similar count to Intel’s LGA1700. That’s not a surprise, as the CPUs have similar feature sets. Both essentially have 28 total lanes of connectivity, though they are partitioned slightly differently. AMD uses a four-lane PCIe link to the chipset and delivers an additional 24 PCI Express lanes for graphics and storage, whereas Intel uses eight DMI 4.0 lanes to link to the chipset and then offers 20 PCIe lanes for storage and graphics.
The increase in the number of pins on AM5 compared to the AM4 also means that AMD has been able to increase its peak capacity to 230 watts, allowing the latest Ryzen 7000 processors to have a 170-watt maximum TDP (thermal design power). This increased power delivery, as per many experts, will allow AMD to develop more powerful processors that require greater wattage. So, even if the company decides to make more powerful CPUs in the future, the AM5 socket can handle its requirements, making it sort of future proof.
Return of Integrated Graphics
AMD has had an on-off relationship with integrated graphics in the Ryzen era. The first-generation Ryzen processors were CPU-only, but then AMD created the 2400G and 2200G that ditched half of the CPU cores in favor of the integrated Vega graphics. Since then AMD has gone to dominate the generation in terms of integrated graphics, with Vega graphics being particularly popular in the laptop segment.
However, most top-end desktop chips from AMD never included integrated graphics and were wholly reliant on graphics cards for display outputs. It meant that you could not use the processor without a graphics card, which was not the case with Intel, as almost all their CPUs had some form of integrated graphics, no matter how underpowered they were. One potential benefit of Intel’s approach was that you one could always get by with integrated graphics and add a graphics card later on.
Vega Graphics have pushed integrated graphics to new heights
With Zen 4 Ryzen 7000-series, AMD seems to be taking the same path as Intel and will include RDNA 2 graphics in all their processors. There may be models that disable the GPU down the line, but for now, integrated graphics is standard across processors supported with AM5. This is good news because AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics are quite capable, and one of the premier showcases of that is the Steam Deck handheld console, which uses a 8-core RDNA 2 graphics processor.
It’s still too early to say, but based on potential specs, Ryzen 7000 graphics could be on a par with the dedicated Radeon RX 6400, not a powerhouse solution, but capable of handling modern 1080p gaming.
Ryzen 7000 Features and Performance Improvements
Looking at the press conference, AMD’s Zen 4 architecture isn’t as revolutionary as, lets say, Alder Lake, as it still sticks to the single all-purpose core architecture rather than the little-big hybrid approach of Intel. But that doesn’t mean that Zen 4 doesn’t bring any major changes to the table.
Intel’s new Hybrid Architecture
As the first 5nm x86 processors to hit the market, AMD once again has an advantage over Intel when it comes to manufacturing process, as Intel is still stuck on their Intel 7 (10nm) process. This architectural improvement has led to some impressive performance gains that were revealed at the Zen 4 launch event. AMD’s CEO Lisa Su claimed that their new Zen 4 processors will be able to hit a max boost speed of 5.7 GHz, which is 0.8 GHz higher than their previous generation flagship Ryzen 9 5950X.
It’s not just faster clock speeds, though. IPC (instructions per cycle) improvements have been at the heart of AMD’s Zen story, and the new Zen 4 processors are no different. AMD has claimed that the new processor will have at least 13% better IPC performance than Zen 3, which was already a huge upgrade compared to Zen 2 (19%). Zen 2, in turn, delivered an average 15 percent improvement in IPC compared with the original Zen architecture.
AMD hasn’t provided details on exactly where the improvement comes from with Zen 4, but usually, IPC gains can come from a variety of sources, including larger caches, lower latency caches, deeper buffers, wider execution paths, and other architectural updates.
Image courtesy: AMD
Together, a 16% boost to clock speed (gen over gen) and a 13% increase in IPC means that AMD’s newest processors could see more than a 29% improvement in single-threaded performance. All of this, and we are not looking at the efficiency improvements, which the new manufacturing process allows. In essence, this performance increase means AMD is once again ready to take back the crown of single-threaded performance from Intel.
Hardware Improvements: AVX-512 and New I/O Die
The Ryzen 7000 processors also come with expanded instructions for AI acceleration through support of AVX-512 instructions. Now, we don’t want to get technical about what AVX-512 entails, but essentially it is an instruction set that accelerates certain tasks that involve compression, image processing, and cryptographic computation; offering double the computational power in certain scenarios.
AMD described that it’s AVX-512 implementation will have a “double-pumped” execution with 256 wide instructions. The idea behind the use of the double pump method is to minizine the frequency penalties typically associated with Intel’s processors when they execute AVX-512 workloads. This could result in lower throughput per clock than Intel’s method, but the higher clocks will obviously offset at least some of the penalty. We’ll have to wait to learn more what this new implementation brings to the table, but many media publications like Eurogamer have shown that AVX-512 instruction sets can have a tremendous impact when it comes to game emulation.
Image credits: AMD
The new Zen 4 chips also use the new 6nm process die for their I/O. The new 6nm I/O die is said to be a low-power architecture based on features pulled in from AMD’s Ryzen 6000 chips, so it has enhanced low-power management features and an expanded palette of low-power states. AMD says this chip now consumes around 20W, which is less than it did with Ryzen 5000, and will deliver the majority of the power savings we see in Ryzen 7000. The new I/O die, for the first time, also enables hardware-accelerated video encoding/decoding, light-duty graphics work, and multi-display support.
Surprisingly, the new I/O die appears to be roughly the same size as the previous-gen 12nm I/O die. However, given that the 6nm die is far denser than the 12nm die from GlobalFoundries, meaning it has far more transistors. It’s safe to assume the integrated GPU has consumed a significant portion of the transistor budget (possibly due in part to onboard cache). The large 6nm I/O die will inevitably add to the cost of the chips, as it will be far more expensive than the mature 12nm I/O die that AMD used in the Ryzen 5000 chips.
AM5 Release Date: Are AM5 Motherboards Out Yet?
AMD revealed that it will have four chipsets (for now) for socket AM5: B650, B650E, X670, and X670E. The first ones to be launched will be the X670 and X670E chipsets, which will be available at launch on September 27, whereas the newly announced B650E and the B650 will arrive in October.
Image credits: AMD
While the chipsets have different names, AMD has claimed that all of them will use a single chip, which will have a range of connectivity options with a maximum of 24 PCIE 5.0 lanes and 14 Superspeed USB ports. This, AMD has argued, gives them the flexibility to offer manufacturers connectivity options, all while focusing on manufacturing a single chip to optimize production and yields.
The X670E “Extreme” chipset will support PCIe 5.0 for two graphics slots and one M.2 NVMe SSD slot. This chipset is further designed for motherboards that aim to have extreme overclockablity and connectivity, carving out a new tier above AMD’s current top of the line X570 motherboards.
The X670 chipset will power the standard high-end motherboards and come in many different configurations with varying PCIe support in tow. For example, the M.2 slot in the x670 boards will have PCI 5.0 support, but not all the 16x slots will have PCIe 5.0 support. This offers a lower-cost sub-tier of PCIe 4.0 X670 motherboards, allowing enthusiasts to avoid paying the extra costs associated with PCIe 5.0.
Finally, the B650 chipset will consist of a single chip on the motherboard. AMD hasn’t specified the speed of the CPU to chipset connection, but we would assume it’s working to get PCIe 5.0 speeds to increase the bandwidth between the CPU and chipset. This is one area where Intel’s use of an eight-lane DMI connection looks superior, though AMD would get the same total bandwidth using a four-lane PCIe 5.0 link.
AM5 Motherboards: Price
AMD Ryzen 7000 desktop processors, along with the new X670 and X670E AM5 motherboards, will launch on September 27. AMD initially unveiled five of the upcoming flagship X670E motherboards, with offerings from MSI, ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, and Biostar. The company later had representatives from all of the major motherboard makers present their full lineups during the event. While multiple vendors did showcase their new designs, we didn’t get any details about what the AM5 motherboard pricing structure will be.
Image courtesy: ASUS
Presently, Asus has a dedicated page for its line of upcoming X670E motherboards, though you can’t order any of them at time of writing. The vendor hasn’t listed the prices for these AM5 motherboards. However, one saving grace was that AMD did reveal the starting price of their lower-end B650 and B650E motherboards, which would start at $125. These will be available from October 10, 2022.
AM5 Socket: What the Future Holds?
At this stage, AMD is not providing us with any concrete plans for what the future holds for socket AM5, but looking at all the prior AMD releases, we can make some speculations.
For one, AMD did not say anything about integrating their proprietary V-cache in their newest processors. This is rather peculiar because their 3D V-cache was paraded to be the next big thing in consumer CPUs (with the release of Ryzen 7 58000X3D) only a few months ago. So, with reasonable confidence, we can say that at least one such V-cache enabled Ryzen 7000-series processor will be released in the near future.
Image ourtesy: AMD
However, in their Computex conference a few months ago, AMD did provide us with a roadmap for what they want to do with their CPU architecture at large. The company revealed that they not only plan to continue with their Zen 4 architecture in the near future with a “Zen 4c” platform. But, they also gave us a rough timeline of when we can expect the release of Zen 5 and Zen 5c. The “c” processors are touted to be cloud optimized solutions, focusing more on increased core and compute densities.
Another roadmap shows AMD’s plans for the mobile processor market. It recently launched the Ryzen 6000-series ‘Rembrandt’ processors featuring Zen 3+ architecture paired with RDNA 2 graphics, fabricated on a 6nm node. The ‘+’ in the Zen 3+ refers to the updated memory interface, which now supports DDR5 and LPDDR5 for higher bandwidth.
Next up in the series will be ‘Phoenix Point,’ a 4nm design that pairs Zen 4 CPU cores with RDNA 3 graphics, along with AMD’s AI Engine (AIE) that comes from the Xilinx acquisition. That should arrive next year, followed by AMD’s plans to combine Zen 5 cores with an RDNA 3+ GPU and AIE, titled “Strix Point”, in 2024. This Zen5 processor will most probably be manufactured on a future manufacturing node.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use My Old AMD AM4 processor with AM5 socket?
A common question that many may have is — Can AMD AM4 CPU fit in AM5 socket? No, you will not be able to use a AM4 CPU like the Ryzen 5600X or anything on the that platform with the new AM5 motherboards. The reason is pretty simple – the new pin-layout of the AM5 socket is just not compatible with any of the previous chips.
Image courtesy: ExecuFix
As we have already discussed, older AM4 sockets used a PGA layout, where the pins were integrated into the processor, but in the case of AM5, that is not the case. LGA type processors have metal contact pins at the bottom, which make contact with metal pins located on the CPU socket. Furthermore, the number of pins have also changed from 1331 in AM4 to 1718 in AM5. So even if AM5 was a PGA socket, the new processors would not be compatible.
Will AM4 be Discontinued?
While AMD has not officially announced what they will do with the AM4 socket and motherboards, we have some information about its future, thanks to a Forbes interview with Robert Hallock, AMD’s director of technical marketing, from back in June. When asked about whether Ryzen 7 5800X3D will be the last of AM4 CPUs? He said, “AM4 will continue, it will live on, and it certainly has huge demand both from DIY builders and system customers. Could there be more AM4? Probably? But I don’t have anything specific to say on that.“
Is this a farewell to AM4?
What we can take away from this statement is that, for the time being, AMD will continue to make their AM4 processors, particularly, the 5000 series as they are still popular in the OEM space, but as for new CPUs – we don’t have any information.
Which CPUs Will the New AM5 Socket Support?
All four Ryzen 7000 Zen 4 CPUs that are to be launched on September 27 will support the AM5 platform for now. That includes the Ryzen processors listed below:
Ryzen 9 7950X
Ryzen 9 7900X
Ryzen 7 7700X
Ryzen 7 7600X
All the newly released AM5 compatible processors (Image courtesy: AMD)
Will AM5 be Compatible with DDR4?
As of now, socket AM5 processors like the Ryzen 7000 series will not support DDR4, as they exclusively run on DDR5 memory. But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a future where AMD may come out with a chipset – based on socket AM5 – that will have support for DDR4. We have to keep in mind that DDR5 is considerably more expensive than DDR4, often more than double of the more mature standard.
Why is this so? Part of this is obviously the chip storage, which will become better over time. But the primary issue isn’t supply constraint but the fact that DDR5 has onboard power management, so the RAM is simply more expensive to produce. This theoretically makes DDR5 system way too expensive for most people, and AMD might see this as deterrent to their new platform and move towards making cheaper DDR4 enabled chipsets in the future.
How Long will Socket AM5 be Supported?
AMD, in their recent Zen 4 release conference said, “Just like AM4, we’re making a commitment to support the AM5 platform with new technologies and next generation architectures through at least 2025. We’re really excited about the next era of rising desktops with AM5.”
With this, we can say that the AM5 socket platform will be active for at least two more generation of processors (keeping in mind AMDs annual release cycle). And this is great news, as it’s primary competitor Intel is infamous for ditching socket types every few years. This was expected from AMD as they have had a great track record when it comes to socket support.
Will AM4 Coolers Work on AM5?
The simple answer to this question is – Yes. At Computex 2022 in May earlier this year, AMD confirmed that all Socket AM5-supported processors will be able to make use of Socket AM4 coolers. This was after many several CPU cooler brands had already confirmed that their AM4 coolers will be compatible with the AM5 socket.
All CPU Noctua coolers except 2 are supported
Noctua, in a blog post, stated, “All Noctua coolers and mounting kits that support AM4 are upwards compatible with socket AM5, except the NH-L9a-AM4 and the NM-AM4-L9aL9i. All Noctua AM4 mountings except the ones of the NH-L9a-AM4 and the NM-AM4-L9aL9i attach to the threads of the standard AM4 stock backplate. Since these backplate threads and their pattern are identical on AM4 and AM5, our AM4 mountings that attach to the standard AMD backplate also support AM5.”
Similarly, many other brands like Cooler Master and Artic have guaranteed the compatibility of its existing AM4 coolers with the new AMD Ryzen 7000-series processors that support the AM5 socket.
AMD AM5 Socket and Motherboard Details Unwrapped
AMD has been rapidly gaining ground on Intel in the CPU world over the past few years because of their Ryzen processors, and Zen 4 looks to be the most promising option so far. It was with Zen 3 that AMD claimed the overall performance crown for the first in a decade, but the laurel was short-lived. Intel hit back with their 12th gen Alder Lake processors and once again took the crest for the best gaming CPU. Now, with continued improvements in IPC and clock speeds of 5.7 GHz with Ryzen 7000-series, AMD may finally take the performance crown in every aspect. However, as is the case with all good things, there is a cost. With new memory and motherboard standards, the overall cost of building an AMD system is most certainly going to rise, pushing it over the budget of many PC enthusiasts. The increase in costs is going to hurt for sure, but we just hope the end result will be worth it.
Will you be upgrading to AM5 motherboards and Ryzen 7000 CPUs at launch? Let us know your thoughts on this change in the comments below.