AMD board power cheats may shorten Ryzen CPU lifespan

Unbeknownst to you, AMD board power cheats 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 on the AMD board power cheats, 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.

Source: Tom’s Hardware