AM4 is the best thing that happened in the PC market.  Recall the history of AMD's revolutionary socket before the release of AM5

AM4 is the best thing that happened in the PC market. Recall the history of AMD’s revolutionary socket before the release of AM5

AM4 is a universal socket for the office and enthusiasts, which saved the company from collapse. In this article, we analyze how AMD turned the technology market with Ryzen processors. On the eve of the release of AM5, let’s look at the history of AM4 under the prism of skeptics, but with a share of positive.


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How AM4 saved a corporation from destruction

AMD has been developing computer processors for decades. Without exaggeration, their achievements have made an incredible contribution to the development of modern electronics, global industry and many other things that we see around us every day. The corporation experienced ups and downs, shared the market with competitors, but was soon on the verge of survival. Things were going well until the release of the second and third generation of Intel Core processors. After that, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) was overtaken by a technological and financial crisis. And only in 2017 the situation began to change for the better. With confident steps, the new AM4 platform has conquered the market, investors and, most importantly, the hearts of users. Before talking about the big rise, the reader should be familiarized with the big fall, which will be discussed.


Schematic representation of the socket AM4


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Challenging times for AMD

In 2009, Intel introduces the innovative Intel Core i7/i5/i3 to the world. AMD had good Phenom X4/X6 CPUs in their pockets, but the market demanded better. In 2011, AMD releases the first samples of Bulldozer processors (microarchitecture name) for AM3+. This platform was supposed to compete with Intel 1155, but in the end it almost killed the company.

Despite the incredible dedication of the fans of the FX series of processors, they were one of the most failed products of the company in its entire history. They were loved by enthusiasts, but hated by the company itself. For example, the FX-9590, the most powerful CPU for the AM3+ socket, was released in the second quarter of 2013. It’s not so terrible, somehow, that by 2016 the company hadn’t come up with anything better for its “tractor-bulldozers” and continued to sell them to fans.


Overclocking the FX-8350 under liquid nitrogen is a favorite pastime of enthusiasts

Crazy levels of heat dissipation, high requirements for motherboards, cooling, and at the same time poor performance per core. Despite the title of “flagship” product, not a single 8-core FX could compete with Intel processors of that time.
Conventional Core i7 left no chance for processors with a bulldozer architecture. The flagship HEDT (high-end desktop) versions of the i7-3970X completely “trodden into the ground” the most successful and overclocked FX-8350 instances, although they were much more expensive. But performance per dollar is not a flagship metric. People demanded healthy competition. It seemed as if these CPUs have a difference in age of 5-6 years.


FX-9590 vs i7 2600K in games. Source: YT Voiaka

It is worth mentioning the Play Station 4 and Xbox One game consoles. Working closely with Sony/Microsoft manufacturers, AMD managed to stay afloat. Contracts for the supply of chips (which were slightly stripped-down analogues of desktop 8-core FX) for game consoles did not allow to completely lose sources of profit.
Things in the office segment (inexpensive AMD A-Series) were a little better. Cheap Athlons were still bought for accountants and other undemanding “office plankton”.


AMD AM1 AMD Sempron 2650 is a government office geek’s nightmare

But it is the presence of flagship products that makes a company’s reputation. The absence of competing processors with top Intel solutions has done its job. The best product in the line is the face of the corporation. Alas, at that time, AMD’s face resembled the face of “Hide the Pain Harold”.

Intel took over the market without resistance. AMD’s share declined even faster after the release of DDR4 memory. Soon Intel Skylake with socket 1151 appears. The first Skylake architecture processors Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K were released in August 2015 along with the top Z170 chipset. Intel got a complete monopoly. AMD did not prepare anything new for DDR4 memory and continued to “delight” fans with updated FX (FX-6330 2015), A-Series APU (A10-7850K early 2014), Athlon X4 880K (Q2 2015 ). All of them worked with DDR3 memory and looked extremely weak against the backdrop of the Skylake architecture.


Source: Steam

And so it continued until the release of AM4. 2017 was a turning point for the corporation and the entire high-tech global industry. By 2022, the company managed to regain the lost part of the market.


Source: Steam

Quite possibly, if not for the AM4, we would have seen an Intel Core i9 12900K CPU of similar performance sometime in 2027. The AM4 platform turned out to be so successful that the story of it should be captured on bronze tablets. There will be a story about this phenomenon of the computer industry.

Why AM4 is the best socket ever

Since the days of the Intel 775 (which survived three generations of RAM) there has not been such a “long-lived” socket for processors for home computers. Intel and AMD have taken different paths to implement their processors. The regular and unreasonable change of the socket under the CPU is what fans of computer hardware dislike Intel for.

We list the connectors that were used by Intel for DDR4 in the segment of home computers: 1151v1, 1151v2, 1200, 1700 (partially). Advanced Micro Devices used only one connector, although it was a bit late with it (the “blue” competitor had been using DDR4 for 2 years when the new AM4 just appeared).

AMD decided to do something completely different, adhering to several principles:
1. Make a single socket for all motherboards for the next 5 years.
2. Allow newer processors to be used on older motherboards.
3. Give users complete freedom of action: overclocking RAM even on the initial A-series chipsets and overclocking the processor on B-series chipsets.

Intel artificially limited users of cheap motherboards, preventing them from realizing the full potential of RAM. This was the case until the 11th generation of Intel Core Rocket Lake. Consider an example: a person buys an Intel Core i5-9400 °F processor and a good motherboard for it, let it be a conditional MSI Mortar B360M. A very good basis for a computer, but the maximum memory frequencies are 2666/ 2400/ 2133 MHz. To get access to higher frequencies, you had to buy expensive Z390 motherboards. If you want to upgrade to the 10th generation, please, get a new motherboard. We decided to buy an Alder Lake CPU – please go to the store for a new board.


Finally, we have waited: for the B560 chipsets, Intel has added an option to overclock the RAM. Pictured is MSI MAG B560 Mortar WIFI

And what about the motherboards for AMD? Even having bought an inexpensive “board” (read the motherboard), the user could use the RAM to its full capacity. Budget solution Gigabyte GA-A320M allows you to overclock DDR4 modules up to 3200 MHz.


3200MHz memory on a $60 motherboard is easy

With the more powerful Asus PRIME B350-PLUS, overclocking the processor will not be a problem either. And maximum compatibility with new CPUs makes even early AMD chipsets relevant in 2022. BIOS firmware update adds support for AMD 5000 series processors. Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, Biostar, Asrock and other manufacturers have released updates to their products regularly. By purchasing their board in 2017, a person saved himself from having to change the entire platform when buying a newer CPU.


GA-AB350M is still an up-to-date product with support for the latest Ryzen processors

AMD Ryzen – processors that changed the rules of the game forever

The first generation Ryzen CPUs were so successful that it forced Intel to add virtual cores to their low-cost processors. Prior to the 10th generation, the Intel Core i3 had 4 cores and 4 threads, just like the i5 (6 cores/6 threads).


Ryzen 5 1600 – the people’s six-core, which became a hit at the beginning of the AM4 era

In total, four microarchitectures on AM4 were presented: Zen, Zen +, Zen 2, Zen 3. All of them are beautiful and show a smooth evolution. They began to be taken apart like hot cakes – for several years in a row, Intel has been losing the market, sometimes by several% per month.


Steam Statistics – A Reliable Source of Information

This socket gave us the 16-core AMD Ryzen 9 3950X/5950X, which became the king of multithreading among home systems. For the first time, the owner of a conventional motherboard can use such a powerful CPU. Previously, this was only available for Ryzen Threadripper (TR4/TR4x) or Intel Core Extreme (s2011/s2066).

Thanks to AM4, we saw excellent integrated graphics in processors. During the mining boom, they became a real salvation for budget systems. Ryzen 5 3400G, Athlon 3000G, Ryzen 7 5700G – they all found a place in the market and were in incredible demand.


AMD Vega 7 integrated graphics are enough for most esports games. In the screenshot Ryzen 5 5600G

The integrated graphics of the Ryzen 5 5600G can easily compete with entry-level gaming graphics cards (GTX1050), leaving GT1030 office plugs far behind.


AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D is the best gift for fans before the release of the new line of 7000 series processors

Even towards the end of the DDR4 memory life cycle, AMD is releasing an updated Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor with increased cache. 96MB of L3 cache is an incredible amount among home CPUs.


Source: YT Testing Games

The end user gets a phenomenal result: a processor with DDR4 memory on a not the freshest motherboard is quite competitive with the 12th generation of Intel Alder Lake on a more expensive DDR5.


All lovers of computer hardware are looking forward to the release of AM5. There is no doubt that by the end of 2022, AMD will delight fans with new performance standards. Those owners of AMD systems who in a few years decide to release their favorite computer on AM4 will be able to say with confidence: “You know, you were a good traveler in life. Although no … You were the best!

Today it is too early to part with AM4. This socket, which brought back healthy competition, lifted the company out of a terrible financial situation and is increasingly being introduced into computers around the world. For the next couple of years, the performance of the Ryzen 5000 series CPU will be enough for the most complex tasks. But time will pass, and people will begin to massively switch to AM5. Pass, but do not forget about AM4 and will proudly remember the times of prosperity and ascent. Thanks AMD for AM4!

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