Rumor: AMD Zen chipsets suffering USB 3.1 setback

File this one under "probably not a problem, probably." Rumor has it that while AMD's Zen processors are on track and "have a satisfactory yield rate," the chipsets for them, designed by Asustek subsidiary ASMedia, are having issues with signal quality on USB 3.1 connections. Specifically, Digitimes says "USB 3.1 transmission speeds drop dramatically as circuit distance increases."

This problem would require motherboard vendors to use additional supporting hardware to maintain USB 3.1 performance, increasing the materials cost for affected boards. Digitimes claims that AMD is considering supplying third-party retimer and redriver chips to motherboard vendors along with the chipsets. As usual, Digitimes did not give any source for the statements it cites.

Earlier roadmaps including Zen mentioned a "Promontory" chipset, and we'd wager that's the chip that's been outsourced to ASMedia. AMD declined to comment on "customer-specific board-level solutions," but it said that it was pleased that Zen is on track. On the other hand, ASMedia specifically denied the rumor, remarking that its "product's signal, stability, and compatibility have all passed certification."

Intel's Sandy Bridge platform, which was a similar step forward for the company, also faced an issue with its chipset design. Assuming the rumor is even true—it is, after all, just a rumor—this certainly sounds like a relatively minor issue. According to other rumors, the Summit Ridge processor has USB 3.0 and SATA on-die, so faults in the Promontory chipset may simply be swept under the rug.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Just dropped by VIA’s website. It’s like an empty office space that was once teeming with cubicles and everyone’s running to and fro, busy with 20 different things. Now all that’s left are a few chairs and a few boxes. It’s funny how VIA used to be one of the biggest suppliers of chipsets for AMD CPUs. And now, even their audio codec business doesn’t seem to be around anymore.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      Yup. Their advertised CPUs are still from the 45nm era.

        • ronch
        • 3 years ago

        Yeah. I wonder who even buys them. Maybe some obscure Chinese firms?

          • tipoo
          • 3 years ago

          They used to do ok in embedded applications, but since they haven’t updated since the Core 2 Duo days, who knows. They did have a 28nm CPU coming.

          [url<]http://wccftech.com/via-28nm-c4650-x86-quad-core-processor-benchmarks/[/url<]

          • Rza79
          • 3 years ago

          They have already released 28nm QuadCore cpu’s.
          Some EPIA boards like the M920 have a 28nm CPU.

          As far as obscure Chinese information goes, VIA’s cpu division has been bought by some Chinese investors company.

      • just brew it!
      • 3 years ago

      I still see USB cards/hubs for sale with VIA chips in them. Asus still had a few AMD motherboards with VIA audio on them in the AM3+ era. Aside from that, yeah they pretty much seem to have disappeared.

    • Rza79
    • 3 years ago

    Zen’s chipset will in a way be designed by the old VIA.
    Let me explain, when the chipset game of the previous decade ended, VIA’s chief designer left VIA to join ASMedia and took along a huge chunk of his old design team. Apparently he also took along some designs, most notably VIA’s USB 3.0 design for which ASMedia’s offices got raided by the police.
    Not surprising that ASMedia pumped out of many ‘great’ products so fast the last few years.
    While I think almost everybody had some struggles with VIA chipsets, most where because of choddy motherboards. I had very few problems with them but I remember using mainly Asus and Epox motherboards. Problems certainly dropped massively after they released the VT8237 southbridge.

    • Paine
    • 3 years ago

    Solution: Nvidia brings back a new version of the Nforce5 chipset! I bet it will scream on a DFI motherboard. Well, those little chipset fans will scream, anyway.

    • raddude9
    • 3 years ago

    And the anti-Zen FUD begins…

      • LostCat
      • 3 years ago

      [url<]http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Antizen[/url<] hmmmmmm

      • Kretschmer
      • 3 years ago

      With the obscene amounts of hype for a product of questionable pedigree, I don’t see reporting a possible issue with easy mobo fixes as “FUD”.

      Wait for the TR review to see “anti-Zen FUD.” 😉

        • raddude9
        • 3 years ago

        Just look at the other comments on this article and you can see that people have already been taken in by the FUD.
        People start bringing up some obscure previous problems with AMD chipset.
        People are complaining about AsMedia.
        People commenting about how intel is a “safer bet”.
        People lamenting the lack of nvidia chipsets these days.

        All this with the product in question still many months away from release. All this with the company in question specifically denying the rumour.

        I don’t have a problem with people quashing the Zen hype, many people on this site are already doing that on a regular basis, but I do believe that using unsubstantiated rumours is not a valid way to achieve that. How about we wait for the reviews, I assume TR will be checking the USB 3.1 performance.

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Kinda wish VIA, ALi and SiS still make chipsets. These days whether you’re with Intel or AMD you’re stuck with one chipset vendor.

    • Sam125
    • 3 years ago

    Why is there so many rumor news articles here?

      • LostCat
      • 3 years ago

      Not much else going on at the moment.

      • ronch
      • 3 years ago

      Because we love hearing rumors?

      • Sam125
      • 3 years ago

      Okay, got it.

    • kuttan
    • 3 years ago

    One tech site starts an unfounded rumor and it get echoed by other tech sites.

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    These rumors are probably about as true as those rumors about Polaris having problems hitting 1GHz a few months ago. Someone’s trying to spread FUD about AMD. Is someone scared?

      • Welch
      • 3 years ago

      I doubt anyone is scared of AMD having success. I’d bet that someone is a bit pissed they didn’t buy AMD stock when it was sub $3 and here it is above $5.

      Make a story about AMD that looks like disaster, drop the price of stock a bit, buy stock, success comes, profit.

      The opposite of a pump and dump.

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    If AMD includes those additional components to patch up Asmedia’s issues, who will shoulder the cost? AMD? Asmedia? Mobo makers? Or consumers by way of more expensive mobos? I think it should be Asmedia.

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Promontory? I think at this point it should be called Purgatory.

    Purge those bugs, men!

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    These things happen. They’ll fix it before launch. That’s assuming these rumors are even true.

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    USB 3.1 speed or stability issues are irrelevant as long as the RGB LED controller still works.

    • flip-mode
    • 3 years ago

    Forget the USB 3.1 issue… chipset problems are a sign… I am beginning to believe that Zen might actually happen.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      Hah, in a weird way, I feel the same. If they’re down to chipset bugs, stuff’s moving.

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      Sensei, How will I know that I have become Zen?

      GrassHopper, you will know that you are Zen when your attention turns to broken chipsets.

    • WaltC
    • 3 years ago

    AMD had been using AsMedia for its USB 3.x support simply because the old SB950 chipset was too old to offer support for USB 3.x or 3.1 or PCIe 3.0. The new AMD core logic for ZEN & AM4 will surely have its own support for USB 3.x I should think–as it will surely also support PCIe3.x for the first time.

    My latest AMD motherboard, an MSI 970 Gaming, dumped the AsMedia USB support for VIA USB 3.x support–but whatever problems AsMedia might have (or VIA) has nothing to do with AMD’s core-logic chipsets that will support Zen in the AM4 boards.

    As usual, some half-baked Internet rumor artist got it all wrong…;) Again.

      • ronch
      • 3 years ago

      Asmedia’s USB 3.1 controller will be integrated into the Promontory chipset. Every piece of the puzzle needs to be there and working well before the chipset can launch. You know, kinda like how a car maker, say, Nissan, can’t launch their electric vehicle if their Li-Ion battery supplier is having quality issues. It’s not Nissan’s fault — their EV is fine, but they can’t launch their product without those batteries.

      AMD could technically force in a new supplier for the USB controller, say, VIA, but it could muddy up their contract and/or relationship with Asmedia.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 3 years ago

        Back in the day, motherboard manufacturers could swap out south bridges and extra component chips.

        I kind of miss those days.

    • Wirko
    • 3 years ago

    The transmission speed can’t just “drop” while maintaining a reliable data transfer. What probably happens is a switch to USB 3.0 or even 2.0.

      • demani
      • 3 years ago

      Sure it could-retransmission of missed data packets causes a slow down. That happens with TCP/IP, and while I don’t know the mechanics if interference cause excessive retransmission then effective speed drops.

    • Sahrin
    • 3 years ago

    Ah, there’s the AMD I remember. Great CPU dies. Sh**ty literally everything else.

    Remember when AMD bought ATI in part for its chipset business? Among the stupidest decisions ever made by any board was acquiring ATI instead of nVidia. Pride goeth before the fall.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      It was probably the *only* major GPU company to acquire. Nvidia is very much defined by Jen-Hsun Huang, and he’s been pretty aggressively against being acquired since forever.

      Funny, sad, a mix of things, to see their market caps flip so completely though. Second to Intel but still pretty big CPU maker AMD thinking about buying little Nvidia, to now Nvidias cap seeming unattainable from AMDs point of view.

        • mesyn191
        • 3 years ago

        Would’ve been real interesting had AMD acquired PowerVR back when they were for sale and gone that route instead.

        Its true they didn’t have a PC presence at all by the time AMD was looking to buy someone in the GPU biz, so no ‘turnkey’ potential there, but that power efficiency and the potential performance of the design is damn good. Look at the success they’ve seen in the smartphone SoC market. And the performance they’re capable of too despite the tiny power usage and die sizes.

        Making that tech work on the PC would’ve take a fair amount of effort but AMD probably could’ve done it back then.

          • the
          • 3 years ago

          Huh. I had a PowerVR Series 3 based video card back in the day called the Kryo 2. The main reason PowerVR became a mobile player is that the Series 4 never materialized in the PC space due to design issues and their partner, STMicro, closing their graphics division. With nVidia and ATI competition in full swing, Imagination couldn’t recover to produce another GPU in the PC space.

            • mesyn191
            • 3 years ago

            I don’t understand the point of your post exactly.

            Yeah Kyro2 failed and Series4 never got out of development which ended PowerVR in the PC world but things didn’t have to end there for the tech in PC’s under a hypothetical AMD buyout scenario. I don’t see any reason why AMD buying them out and using their tech couldn’t have been viable either as a iGPU or dGPU.

            And TBDR’s like PowerVR really are power and die space efficient so its not just all business/financial issues that have kept them successful in smartphones.

            • tipoo
            • 3 years ago

            Since their designs are so good and power efficient now, and they’re in some of the highest margin mass shipping devices (iPhone), I wonder if they’re in fit shape to take another swing at the PC market.

            I mean, they probably won’t as a business decision, but someone, please, anyone, add some new blood to this mess. Heck, Intel, slap 140EUs onto a card.

          • tipoo
          • 3 years ago

          Does Adreno rearranged spell anything familiar? Yeah, AMD sold that branch right before they needed them. Along with some other ARM IP I think. Le sigh.

        • the
        • 3 years ago

        He was was reportedly open to the idea several times. When AMD was looking at nVidia and ATI, he wanted a seat on AMD’s board of directors as part of the deal and long term was looking to position himself as AMD’s CEO from that position.

        In the alternate [i<]what-if[/i<] world, AMD buying nVidia and being lead by Jen-Hsun by this point in time would have led to a radically different market place. First off AMD wouldn't be in such dire financial state which oddly would have zero to do the leadership change. This rest solely on AMD's foolish decision to buy ATI with cash. Generally a portion is paid out in cash to keep investors happy but most mergers of this magnitude also involve stock (which was allegedly part of the nVidia deal). Second thing I would have seen changed is that the Fusion platform with x86 + GPU would have arrived far sooner and the logical HSA followup. The whole Mantle/Vulkan/DX12 revolution we're going through right now would have also come sooner due to the AMD + nVidia hardware/software advancements. Thirdly the Telsa line of coprocessors wouldn't be PCIe based but sit in the same sockets at Opterons at this point in time. nVidia's basically doing this now with GP100 + POWER8 with IBM but as a single company, this would have arrived a few years earlier under an AMD + nVidia banner. The combined AMD + nVidia company would have kept their fabs but would have had to partner closely with IBM. While there would have been a large push by the combine company for SoC's early on, the fab capacity would have went toward some very large discrete GPUs. At this point in time, they would still have had to open up their foundries to other manufactures and still would have bought IBM's chip business. Bulldozer likely still would have happened though how it'd turn out would be anyone's guess as AMD was only early in development in 2006 when this merger would have happened. Project Denver would have still happened too but this would be to run x86 code on a more GPU like architecture and to eliminate the x87 FPU in Bulldozer. There would still have been an anti-trust lawsuit with Intel but instead of settling, this would have gone to court with an eventual bigger payout for AMD + nVidia team. What wouldn't have happened is Tegra in this universe. The rise of ARM in mobile would have caught both Intel and AMD + nVidia off guard. Things wouldn't be as dire in the PC space due to hardware competition (it'd be shrinking, just not as fast as it is today). However many of the reasons the PC market is shrinking is due to competition from mobile itself and software missteps *cough* Windows 8 *cough*. Speaking of, Windows RT would still be around today as both Intel and AMD + nVidia would have focused more on the performance side of performance per watt leaving an opening for mobile to creep upward. Qualcomm would have purchased ATI in this alternate universe as I'd see Intel insisting they could get Larrabee working until it was too late to bid on ATI. One this note, i would see that the PS4/Xbox One would be PowerPC + ATI/Qualcomm graphics as neither console maker would want to strike a deal with Intel or AMD + nVidia. Also in this alternate universe SSK found a website called TechReport and I gotten several winning lottery tickets.

          • faramir
          • 3 years ago

          LOL, nice write-up, you sir deserve a +1 !!!

          • tipoo
          • 3 years ago

          Ah, to have a what-if machine to see these things.
          I think for sure AMD would be doing better under him than their string of CEOs since.

            • Pancake
            • 3 years ago

            Jen Hsun leading a combined AMD/NVidia would have been fun. He’s a provocative but bold character not afraid to try new things and not afraid to step on toes. He would have taken the fight right up to Intel. Instead, AMD has had a string of characterless nobodies in charge. So sad. Too bad.

        • Sahrin
        • 3 years ago

        AMD approached nVidia first. Jen wanted to be CEO of the combined company, and Hector refused – so they went with AMD. Pretty well documented.

      • Sam125
      • 3 years ago

      I guess if you ignore the inconvenient fact that Jen-Hsun Huang wanted to be the one to buy AMD and not the other way around, then yeah not buying Nvidia sounds like a mistake. If anything, it was his pride as a former AMD engineer that got the better of him, thereby losing his opportunity of ever seeing Lisa Su again. A man who thinks with his heart is not a good engineer by any means.

        • Sahrin
        • 3 years ago

        AMD was 5x the size of nVidia in 2005.

      • Welch
      • 3 years ago

      I’d say hind-sight is 20-20 but some how you still read the tea leaves wrong Ms. Cleo.

      • Krogoth
      • 3 years ago

      2/10 nice try deluded fanboy.

    • mkk
    • 3 years ago

    Still just a rumor, like the article says.

    • wingless
    • 3 years ago

    It’s better this nonsense gets taken care of BEFORE the CPU and boards release. AMD sure would have liked to have kept this quiet, I bet.

    • Bonusbartus
    • 3 years ago

    So… what else is known about the new chipset?
    Just that it might possibly maybe havebad usb3.1 signalling quality?

      • RAGEPRO
      • 3 years ago

      Nothing is really “known” because AMD hasn’t even publicly announced it yet, unfortunately. What we “know” from leaks includes a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection to the processor (essentially the same as Skylake’s DMI 3.0), and that it will support SATA 6Gbps, SATA Express, USB 3.1, and additional PCIe connectivity.

        • smilingcrow
        • 3 years ago

        Does that mean 3.1 Gen 2?
        What a silly game they are playing with the naming.

          • Sargent Duck
          • 3 years ago

          Blame Apple for that.

            • smilingcrow
            • 3 years ago

            I already blame Apple for everything by default but want to widen the net and point the finger at others too.

          • RAGEPRO
          • 3 years ago

          The same diagram that lists “USB 3.1” for the Promontory also lists USB 3.0 for both Promontory and the Summit Ridge itself, so I suspect it probably is “USB 3.1 Gen2”. 🙂

    • auxy
    • 3 years ago

    I don’t like the Half-Life reference. Things went bad after that! (ノД`)・゜・。

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 3 years ago

      AMD Engineer: I never thought I’d see a resonance cascade, much less create one.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 3 years ago

      Haha, that’s true. I didn’t think about that.

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