Why AMD Socket AM4 motherboards are in short supply (and suffering from all sorts of issues)

Posted on Friday, Mar 10 2017 @ 18:39 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
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One of the problems you face when you want to build a Ryzen system today is that availability of Socket AM4 motherboards is very limited. These motherboards are selling out very quickly so Legit Reviews fired off e-mails to its contacts at motherboard makers to figure out what's going on.

The motherboard makers revealed the initial batch of Socket AM4 motherboards was very small and shipped by air. Normal bulk shipments of motherboards are done via shipping containers and it takes a couple of weeks until these units come into North America from Asia. These should arrive soon so supply issues should soon be alleviated.

In an official statement, AMD marketing executive John Taylor claims Ryzen demand is much stronger than motherboard maker's initial expectations:
“AMD is pleased with the enthusiasm for Ryzen and the strong demand worldwide for Ryzen 7. Demand for Ryzen 7 does exceed our motherboard partners’ initial expectations. Our partners are rapidly ramping up shipments, and we expect sufficient motherboard supply in a few weeks.” – John Taylor, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Marketing at AMD
However, one contact at a motherboard maker, who wishes to remain anonymous, confided to Legit Reviews that the lack of AM4 motherboards is the result of bad communication, bad coordination, bad support and bad timing.

The source claims AMD was very secretive, they reportedly kept the CPU supply quantity secret until the last moment and did not provide enough resources to the motherboard makers to work out all the kinks. Furthermore, the source says Ryzen was originally expected to launch late Q2 2017 but that AMD decided in late December 2016 that it wanted to launch the chip right after Chinese New Year. All these factors contributed to the poor supply of AM4 motherboards and all the issues with the platform:
“It’s all about the bad coordination, bad communication, bad support and bad timing to launch this platform in my opinion. With all these issues, none of us could start manufacture the boards sooner. Also, in January and February, all board vendors’ production lines were occupied with Intel 200 series boards before Chinese New Year and tried to ship as much boards as we can to ensure we won’t have stock issues while Asia was on New Year vacation.

In late December, AMD decided to pull in the launch date (it was scheduled to launch in late Q2) and launched it right after Chinese New Year but AMD keep the CPU supply quantity secret from us the whole time. They only shared the data 2 weeks before the launch, we didn’t understand why they were doing it. Also, their BIOS team and engineers were doing terrible jobs on supporting us on the BIOS microcode updates, driver updates, CPU samples for testing. They have done nothing they should have been doing to support the launch platform partners and always delay or give no response on support requests. We were all having huge issues to debug with limited AMD resource support including validating the parts, and fixing the memory clock speed that is all limited by AMD.

In general, it’s been too long for AMD to launch a new CPU, so they forgot how to do it, so they launched the CPU just like they were launching the graphics card. They didn’t care about the platform eco-system, so the eco-system is suffering and stock is delayed.

We are flying in new batches every 3 days to try to fulfill the back orders ASAP, so they should be all back in stock soon. With all the board reviews released, per Newegg and Amazon, the AMD memory limitation issue is slowing down the sales though.

We need your help to feedback that to AMD as well on their supports issues.” – Anonymous Motherboard Manufacture
Motherboard makers weren't the only ones getting poor support from AMD, Legit Reviews reports memory makers got the same treatment. The site says some memory makers got in touch with reviewers to get access to the right engineering contacts at AMD, because they couldn't get support from AMD directly:
Legit Reviews was also contacted by memory makers for help getting engineering contacts at AMD ahead of the Ryzen launch to ensure their memory kits were compatible as they couldn’t get support knocking on the front door.
Motherboard makers are hard at work to roll out UEFI updates to solve issues with AM4 motherboards. Some issues on the other hand can't be resolved via software updates. For example, MSI's current flagship X370 motherboard doesn't support frequency fine-tuning because the motherboard lacks a physical clock generator. MSI says they will be rolling out a new overclocking flagship model soon to compete with boards from ASUS and Gigabyte.
“Our CPU frequency is 25MHz a level, i.e.: when you key in 4000 the frequency is 4000; 4010 or 4020 and enter, frequency will auto adjust to 4025. Key in 4026 will be 4050 and so on. The question on memory to 3600MHz, is because ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero ($255.00) and Gigabyte K7 featured CLKGEN on board, MSI also have upcoming model featured this as well, I’ll keep you posted.” – MSI TW

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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