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In gaming, there is a performance penalty of around 10% (give or take) for Simultaneous Multi-Thread (SMT). Why is this?

The SMT Implementation

When Intel released its hyper-threading for the first time, there were actually performance penalties. Right now there seem to be with AMD right now.



The 3 queue resources (in green) are shared. That means that they are not duplicated in SMT.

I suspect that when SMT is on, they are essentially halved. While sufficient for a full core with no SMT, they are probably bottlenecking the SMT impelementation. IN essence, AMD repeated Intel's mistake with HT.

This cannot be fixed with any BIOS update, although perhaps they could find a few ways to mitigate in microcode.

The CCX

This is Ryzen CPU. Click on for full resolution.



There are 2 distinct 4 core clusters, making 8 cores. Each of these is called a CCX.



Communicating between each of the 4 cores within the CCX is very fast. Each CCX has 4 cores. These cores have their own L1 and L2 cache, then a shared L3 cache in 4 slices (8 MB shared amongst the 4 CPUs, kind of like a 4 core CPU). One notable difference versus Intel CPUs is that L3 is a victim cache (versus one that collects data from the prefetch/demand instructions - a write-back cache like on Intel CPUs). Note of course the larger than usual L2 cache to make up for this.



But communication between the 2 CCXs less so and there is a big performance penalty. The penalty is in both bandwidth and latency. How it works is that there is a link between the 2 CCX. The link that AMD currently uses something called "Infinity Fabric", which is basically an upgraded HyperTransport design. This Infinity Fabric appears to be at RAM speed. When one CCX has data that the other CCX needs, the Infinity Fabric checks the L3 cache of the other CCX and at the same time requests it of the memory controller. In most cases, the memory controller request will be cancelled because the data will be in the other CCX's L3 cache. However if not, then DRAM is the "true" last level cache. AMD claims that the Infinity Fabric has a bandwidth of 22 GB/s.

I'm actually concerned about that. For a comparison, the QPI on Haswell E is about 38.4 GB/s (QPI operates at 4.8 GHz on Haswell E x 2 for Double Data Rate x 16/20 (16 bits, but QPI bits wide) x 2 (bidirectional) / 8 (since there's 8 bits per byte) = 38.4 GB/s. That's almost double AMD's quoted 22GB/s and that's for a 2P socket! For Skylake (Purley) Intel plans an even faster interconnect called UltraPath Interconnect (UPI) technology (also known as KTI or Keizer Technology). It is reported to have 9.6GT/s or 10.4GT/s transfer speeds and it should support many requests per message, so it should see efficiency gains. The point is that in Intel, communication off die between 2 CPUs has more bandwidth than an on-die communication between 2 CCXs!

Edit: It is worth mentioning Intel lists the Haswell EP Xeons as 9.6 GT/s on QPI, which means 9.6 GT/s x 16 (data link is 16 bits; really 20 for data integrity) / 8 bits per byte x 2 for double data rate = 38.4 GB/s

Infinity Fabric will also be used in Vega.



That means this is not like having 1 big monolithic die. This is like having 2 fast 4 core CPUs.

For a comparison, here's Broadwell E, which uses a distinct "ring" design:



So there isn't a performance penalty on Intel CPUs for communication between cores because it is a "ring" rather than 2 CCX designs. While communicating within that ring will be slower (since data has to travel half way across the "ring" in the worst situation), it also means that the CPU acts as 1. By contrast with AMD's solution, it means that communication within the CCX is much faster, but between CCXs is really slow. Apparently AMD made this design to be scalable (they just don't have as many engineers as Intel).

Right now there is a performance penalty because Windows is treating this like a monolithic die, rather than 2 separate CPU complexes, which is what this really is.

Think of it as 2 4-core CPUs like on a 2P socket, not 1 8-core CPU. There is no real way to "fix" this issue - it's inherent in the design, although a Windows update/updated LInux kernel would be very good.

Other

RAM Speeds
We learned a while back that there was a RAM slowdown.

http://www.overclock.net/t/1624058/dvhardware-amd-ryzen-has-issues-with-high-frequency-ddr4-fix-expected-in-1-2-months/200

That might be an issue. When the 6700K first was released, it was often slower in gaming than the 4790K, despite Skylake having a better IPC than Haswell. The reason was due to the poor speed and loose timings of the DDR4. The interesting thing here is that Zen does very well at workstation benchmarks (better than Broadwell E in many cases and perhaps even better than a hypothetical Skylake E), which makes this a very likely culprit.

Clockspeeds

One of the reasons why the Ryzen is cheap is because they used High Density Libraries. That allows for more dies in a smaller area and reduced power consumption. The penalty is clockspeed. For similar reasons, a GPUs like the 290X do not have as much overclocking headroom as say, a 7970 might. You can put more transistors in a given area, but at the expense of clocks, due to the power density (clockspeed is exponential). Actually, that reminds me, one of the reasons why Kaby Lake clocks faster than Skylake by about 300 MHz is because Kaby Lake is less dense.

This design may very well be why Ryzen cannot overclock more. Actually 4 GHz is already very good considering this.

Voltage Integration
For those who remember, Haswell introduced FIVR, which integrated the voltage regulator on the CPU package, rather than the motherboard. I think that the LDO on Zen is bypassed on consumer boards, so this is a non-issue. That means voltage integration takes place on the motherboard in full.

Unlike Carrizo, I don't see this as a bottleneck, unless the integrated voltage is in use somehow.

Fun fact: The voltage integration design is called Zeppelin.

Uncore
The uncore (cache) does not seem to be separate from the core, unlike INtel CPUs. If this is bottlenecking clockspeeds and not the HDL, then we may be cache speed rather than core limited. This might explain Ryzen's weak OCs.

What I don't know is if it is the cache or the HDL that is limiting OCs. If it is the cache, then we may be able to get a few hundred MHz from splitting this out.

Base Clock
Much like Sandy Bridge, the Base Clock is closely tied to everything else, so overclocking it is likely to introduce instability. I'd guess that past 105 MHz on PCie 3.0, there may be instability.

I would like to see this separated (kind of like what Intel did with Skylake - they separated the CPU baseclock from the rest of the board). I would also like a "strap" function like on Intel boards to be added for unlocked CPUs.

4 cores don't suffer from the CCX communication problem

With only 1 CCX, the 4 core Zen CPUs will not suffer from this problem. Actually, for a mid-ranged system a 4 core Ryzen CPU with SMT disabled would be a very good value.

Once the RAM speeds are resolved and with SMT disabled, the main flaws are not a problem at all.

This works for a budget system, an APU, and may be an advantage on a laptop.

You may still be better of with Ryzen

Keep in mind that with most games, they are GPU not CPU bottlenecked.

You could buy a 6900K + an X99 motherboard + 1 GPU. Alternatively, you could buy a 1800X + X370 board + 2 GPUs for CF/SLI. In games that support CF or SLI, that would be an advantage and keep in mind you are not CPU bottlenecked.

The main drawback of course is multi-GPU issues. The other is of course where you do have CPU bottlenecks. Many strategy games (like the Total War series, simulator games) and the Battlefield series (especially in multiplayer on large maps) are CPU bottlenecked.

We really need a review of Zen vs X99 at 4k.

AVFS

Ryzen uses AVFS, much like Carrizo.



That may be a big part of the power savings of Ryzen.

I don't know if this has any impact on the overclock headroom, but the top Polaris chips also used AVFS and the best ones could (the XFX RX 480 GTR Black comes to mind) could go past 1500 MHz at times - provided you get lucky with the silicon lottery. We may see clocks mature as Zen matures.

AVX/FMA

Currently AMD's AVX/FMA does not scale as well as Intel's.
https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/ryzen-strictly-technical.2500572/

Not many games use these instructions, but it is a point to note. It may affect productivity though, depending on your workload.

Conclusions
Keep in mind the value proposition - you may still be better off with Zen. Also keep in mind the possibilities for your budget systems and APUs of the 4 core CPU.

The combination of these problems means that Zen cannot be as fast as Intel's HEDT in terms of gaming (let's assume that a 6800K/5820K + an X99 board is the approximate peer of an 1800X + an X370 board; the 1800X will be more expensive, but a good X99 board will be more expensive, due to the 40 PCie lanes, quad channel RAM, and more complex chipset). Combine this with a weak OC headroom (either due to the cache or the HDL) and you have an explanation.

That said, any game that uses more cores will mean that the 8 Core Ryzen should destroy the Skylake and Kaby Lake Intel CPUs. Keep in mind that with DX12 and Vulkan it may be more future proof to get Ryzen. Oh and Ryzen can destroy Intel at content creation - even the 6900K cannot keep up.

I think that we need a patch in Windows and for the next Linux Kernel for each CCX to be treated like 2 separate CPUs. Essentially this would eliminate much of the performance penalty of Ryzen's CCX, which causes data to miss the L3 cache and go into RAM, causing a performance penalty.

Maybe a microcode update could mitigate some of these problems, but they are inherent in the hardware, so I am unsure of how much it will gain.

They need to get the BIOS updates for the RAM out ASAP.

For gamers, disable the SMT when gaming.

From a programming POV, it may make sense to treat each 4 core CCX like a mini-NUMA cluster. Then communication between CCXs is minimized, keeping data in L3 rather than using the Infinity Fabric and DDR4 as Last Level Cache.

Zen+ Ideas
  • AVX and FMA performance need a boost in the future
  • Increase the resources for the queues as to prevent penalties with the SMT.
  • A higher speed interconnect between the CCX so that they don't have to go to DRAM as the Last Level Cache and perhaps further augments to Infinity Fabric. I think that Zen would benefit from an L4 eDRAM cache. Perhaps a future version could feature HBM.
  • Maybe a third idea might be to isolate the cache, Bclk and core clocks. On Skylake for example, you have your Core speed, then Uncore. There's no separate Uncore. If the Uncore is holding back clocks then perhaps the Core can go a bit faster. For the base clock, on unlocked Also, on Skylake, Intel introduced the ability for the Bclk of the CPU to be separate from the rest of the motherboard.
By high speed interconnect, look at this. It is a 24 core Broadwell E HCC design, with 2 "rings" of 12 cores.



Note the 2 buses between the 2 "rings" that allows for high speed connection. Without these, anything between the 2 rings would have to go to the DRAM, exacting a huge performance penalty. AMD needs to do something similar or beef up the Infinity Fabric. 22GB/s is not enough.

Yet another option may be an L4 eDRAM or even HBM configuration for the Last Level Cache (to prevent trips to DRAM that have a latency penalty).

I'm sure AMD engineers know about these.

This is an amazing CPU if you consider it, competitive and it could get a lot better with Zen+. I think that they could do 15% with some changes. Power consumption is good, and it has decent clocks even with low OC headroom. It's also a good value, awesome for content creation.

Thanks
To Looncraz as well for his advice on the LDOs
 

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Wow, great review! Thanks!
 

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Excellent!

Also, some benches I've seen support the theory that disabling SMT will help gaming framerates in the interim while OS, BIOS and microcode patches get rolled out.
 

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Meh. Many gaming benchmarks show much less than 10% difference with SMT enabled/disabled. I don't think there's as much to gain there as people are hoping.

I also take issue with the GPU bottleneck argument. That may be true for average/max FPS, but for the all-important minimum FPS metric we'll likely see Zen destroyed as more in-depth gaming benchmarks come out.

System optimizations, BIOS updates, etc. are only going to get peoples' hopes up. AMD doesn't even really try arguing this point. AMD's main argument is game developers will start coding for Zen moving forward, but it will take at least 1-2 years before the market is semi-saturated with Zen optimized titles.
 

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Ryzen's launch was a bit "premature" in the sense that the third-party companies creating motherboards for their processors are not yet THAT prepared. There are many issues highlighted by Steve from Gamer's Nexus about the BIOS problems with the MSI and ASUS boards. Just click on the Youtube Link madbrayniak shared.
 

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Great overview.

It's interesting that you suggest the OS should recognize it as a 2P 4 core rather than 8 core.

I hope by the time Ryzen 5 releases many of these issues are ironed out by motherboard manufacturers and RAM manufacturers. So far the only RAM company seemingly on top of the RAM issue is GSkill , their "solution" in the long term is to release AMD Ryzen specialized RAM in the form of Flare X.

If your reasoning is correct then the biggest improvement could come with greater support RAM speeds (due to the CCX's Infinity Fabric implementation). Earlier news suggested the Infinity Fabric would be faster : "The company declined to give data rates or latency figures for Infinity, which comes only in a coherent version. However, it said that it is modular and will scale from 30- to 50-GBytes/second versions for notebooks to 512 Gbytes/s and beyond for Vega." http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1330981&page_number=2

IMO when you see Firestrike/Timespy benchmarks with the Ryzen 7 competitive with respect to i7-6900K & i7-7700k @5.1GHz, then that means it is a game optimization issue.

Also I realized the Stilt's reasoning of < 3.3GHz being optimal for these chips might mean we ought to be under-volting instead of overclocking. It certainly explains the clockrates on ryzen 7 1700 and Ryzen 7 1700X.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I feel that apart from the issues I've raised, AMD's CPU is very well made.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlphaC View Post

Great overview.

It's interesting that you suggest the OS should recognize it as a 2P 4 core rather than 8 core.

I hope by the time Ryzen 5 releases many of these issues are ironed out by motherboard manufacturers and RAM manufacturers. So far the only RAM company seemingly on top of the RAM issue is GSkill , their "solution" in the long term is to release AMD Ryzen specialized RAM in the form of Flare X.

If your reasoning is correct then the biggest improvement could come with greater support RAM speeds (due to the CCX's Infinity Fabric implementation). Earlier news suggested the Infinity Fabric would be faster : "The company declined to give data rates or latency figures for Infinity, which comes only in a coherent version. However, it said that it is modular and will scale from 30- to 50-GBytes/second versions for notebooks to 512 Gbytes/s and beyond for Vega." http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1330981&page_number=2

IMO when you see Firestrike/Timespy benchmarks with the Ryzen 7 competitive with respect to i7-6900K & i7-7700k @5.1GHz, then that means it is a game optimization issue.

Also I realized the Stilt's reasoning of < 3.3GHz being optimal for these chips might mean we ought to be under-volting instead of overclocking. It certainly explains the clockrates on ryzen 7 1700 and Ryzen 7 1700X.
+Rep - that gets my thought juices going.

Yes, which reminds me.

Once the RAM fix is in order, it may be advisable to buy the top binned RAM and OC it (best timings/clocks you can get). There is probably more to gain on tight timings and high RAM clocks on Ryzen than Intel platforms. The reason is because the Intel platforms don't use their DRAM as the last level cache, while Ryzen does. Furthermore, because they don't, it means that memory bandwidth is not the bottleneck in most cases, whereas when communicating between 2 CCXs, the memory could be a bottleneck. Actually, a 2 DIMM board might be a potentially good idea on Ryzen for that reason (trace lengths and possibility for better OC).

The source of the Infinite Fabric 22GB/s was the PCGH.de review. Apparently they talked with AMD about this.

Also, seeing that there's not much OC headroom and you want to undervolt, there is little point in buying flagship motherboards with insane VRMs, unless of course you need the other features that said flagship motherboards offer. Maybe put the savings towards buying better binned RAM. The only case you may want to consider a flagship then might be if that board has the ability to clock RAM faster.

Perhaps AMD should also focus on releasing a better memory controller for Zen+, although with my Zen+ proposals, it won't be needed because there will be a faster last level cache.

Will update the OP on this.

I'm actually worried about what the Infinity Fabric could mean for Vega. Keep in mind the 22GB/s is not a lot at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quantum Reality View Post

Excellent!

Also, some benches I've seen support the theory that disabling SMT will help gaming framerates in the interim while OS, BIOS and microcode patches get rolled out.
WE should see modest gains. Getting rid of the SMT will add a few percentage points (perhaps as much as 10%) and the RAM fixes will add another few percent. That should mostly close the gap with Intel.

The big thing that we need to do for the microcode (and the OS kernels) to do is to treat the CCXs as different CPUs. If we can get say, a 4 thread game to only use 1 CCX, the gap will disappear. In that case, we could even see AMD get the kinds of wins in games that it gets in workstation benchmarks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukon Trooper View Post

Meh. Many gaming benchmarks show much less than 10% difference with SMT enabled/disabled. I don't think there's as much to gain there as people are hoping.

I also take issue with the GPU bottleneck argument. That may be true for average/max FPS, but for the all-important minimum FPS metric we'll likely see Zen destroyed as more in-depth gaming benchmarks come out.

System optimizations, BIOS updates, etc. are only going to get peoples' hopes up. AMD doesn't even really try arguing this point. AMD's main argument is game developers will start coding for Zen moving forward, but it will take at least 1-2 years before the market is semi-saturated with Zen optimized titles.
True, it's not a huge difference, but it counts for a lot of people. The optimal use of CCXs would also likely boost not just games, but also the workstation loads even more. If games with less than 4 cores kept their loads within 1 CCX, they'd be able to pull the kind of results on games than they do on workstations.

Keep in mind that at 1440p where things are GPUs and not CPUs become the bottleneck (save in CPU bottlenecked games like Total War games). That means that even this bottleneck will disappear and in the few games that there are CPU bottlenecks, the faster RAM along with better CCX management should mitigate those.

I do not believe that with the fixes I have proposed Zen will get destroyed - at the very least, my Zen+ proposals would lead to viable fixes for Zen+.
 

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So applications (e.g. video encoding, calculations, etc) - SMT on.

Games (esp DX12) - SMT off.

Too bad you can't have dynamic feature-disabling profiles without needing a reboot to change the setting.
 

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This is the first post that is actually looking for answers in the right place.

I am really surprised that no-one else has noticed the correlation yet between CPU and GPU performance. All the CPU benchmarks that only hit the CPU seem to provide really good results that beat can Broadwell-E while All the benchmarks that rely on the CPU plus a strong GPU are under performing. GPU load impacts CPU performance.

Together with the memory clock speed limitations, Isnt it obvious to everyone that the gaming performance issue is being caused because of a weakness in performance somewhare in the interface between the CPU and GPU? The PCIe 3.0 bus is running at a fixed rate x16 so it is not the size of the pipe that is limiting things so there is only one thing left that can possibly be causing the issue and that is the part of the Chip that manages the chip IO (PCIe and Memory controllers - the fabric that you are discussing in the original post).

CPU's, and it doesn't matter if it is Intel or AMD, all have to juggle interdependent resources to get peak performance, too much strength on one side will overwhelm the other side and will reduce performance. Given that none of the Reviewer "experts" nor, apparently any of the Motherboard "engineering" Marketing people have mentioned it would seem to indicate that they don't really understand what is going on are are just trying to follow an overclocking process that they have memorized in the past.

This is just from a thought experiment but I believe that I can tell you The Solution.

I am pretty certain that the workaround to this apparent conundrum will be to use a higher BCLK frequency with a lower multiplier and fine tune the IO/SOC voltages. It will improve memory clocking limitations and will increase the the number of cycles per second that the PCIe controller can deal with data flow between the CPU and GPU allowing a better balanced system. It will also allow you to improve fast frequency memory kits ability to clock past 2933Mhz.

I would start by Setting BCLK to 125 and the CPU multiplier to around 32 or 33. Set memory to a higher bin frequency and adjust Ram timings. I don't know what the exact best multiplier/BCLK frequency combination will be, It could be 150/20 for a 4Ghz CPU frequency. That will require experimentation by the people who have the chip in hand. I suspect that the 1800X and 1700X chips, because of higher complexity at the SOC level that currently seems to be having problems, will benefit the most from this approach.
 

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I love all these theories. Now that I have my 1800x running my ASRock x370 killer Mobo I finally have a feel for the strangeness that is this chip. It performs so wildly.

I've updated my BIOS to what is the latest, but what gets me is how many options seem like blatant debug settings. So many settings that have no description but really once you look at them, hint at some deeper issues.

I wonder how much AMD is helping the motherboard guys, most of it seems like a shot in the dark to me.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by navjack27 View Post

I love all these theories. Now that I have my 1800x running my ASRock x370 killer Mobo I finally have a feel for the strangeness that is this chip. It performs so wildly.

I've updated my BIOS to what is the latest, but what gets me is how many options seem like blatant debug settings. So many settings that have no description but really once you look at them, hint at some deeper issues.

I wonder how much AMD is helping the motherboard guys, most of it seems like a shot in the dark to me.
The whole platforms seems to have come to market before it was ready. Deadlines from the CEO I guess.

so how have you overclocked the chip/memory?
 

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well i have a coolermaster t4, so cooling ain't that great. i can't get my memory to do much past stock for whatever reason. i've had 4ghz just fine until heavy multithreaded loads but the issue is i have no idea what the voltage was or is or if it took. i have the best luck using ryzen master to set things AFTER i set them in bios.

right now i'm just stock auto everything and i'm going to wait it out until microcode updates and more bios updates happen.

maybe i'm a huge nerd but its neat having all these options but also having no idea what they do
biggrin.gif






EDIT: no option in my bios for memory timings... knowing if XFR is actually ON when ratio is on auto. no per-core settings... theres actually a ton "missing"

might i mention that it says in the ryzen master user manual that you need to enable HPET in windows to use it. and, yes you do need to enable it. but that COULD explain the lower gaming benchmark numbers in some cases.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by navjack27 View Post

well i have a coolermaster t4, so cooling ain't that great. i can't get my memory to do much past stock for whatever reason. i've had 4ghz just fine until heavy multithreaded loads but the issue is i have no idea what the voltage was or is or if it took. i have the best luck using ryzen master to set things AFTER i set them in bios.

right now i'm just stock auto everything and i'm going to wait it out until microcode updates and more bios updates happen.

maybe i'm a huge nerd but its neat having all these options but also having no idea what they do
biggrin.gif






EDIT: no option in my bios for memory timings... knowing if XFR is actually ON when ratio is on auto. no per-core settings... theres actually a ton "missing"

might i mention that it says in the ryzen master user manual that you need to enable HPET in windows to use it. and, yes you do need to enable it. but that COULD explain the lower gaming benchmark numbers in some cases.
those bios options are utterly alien coming from Intel for so long.

like lol, where to even begin?
 

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well if you have irritable bowel syndrome just disable or enable.
if ur zen is common then go in that menu
if you wanna gimp ur cpu then disable branch prediction
if someone dis'd you and you want to redirect a witty rejoiner back at em then enable that first setting.

at least, these are my guesses
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChronoBodi View Post

those bios options are utterly alien coming from Intel for so long.

like lol, where to even begin?
Custom P-States looks like it's an option to edit every P-State in frequency and voltage. Much like K10Stat for AM3 CPUs or AMDMsrTweaker for AM3+. For example, if you think the lowest Pstate that Ryzen uses is too low for your taste, you can edit and change it. Or if you think it's overvolted, you can undervolt it. Just guess here, i don't have the CPU. If you don't care about such stuff, you can simply ignore it and use whatever PStates AMD has chosen. It's a very nice feature for undervolters, if it's what i think it is.
 

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it goes down to 400mhz on the lowest one. you have to enable 'custom' on each one starting with p0 to see the other ones accurately.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by navjack27 View Post

well i have a coolermaster t4, so cooling ain't that great. i can't get my memory to do much past stock for whatever reason. i've had 4ghz just fine until heavy multithreaded loads but the issue is i have no idea what the voltage was or is or if it took. i have the best luck using ryzen master to set things AFTER i set them in bios.

right now i'm just stock auto everything and i'm going to wait it out until microcode updates and more bios updates happen.

maybe i'm a huge nerd but its neat having all these options but also having no idea what they do
biggrin.gif






EDIT: no option in my bios for memory timings... knowing if XFR is actually ON when ratio is on auto. no per-core settings... theres actually a ton "missing"

might i mention that it says in the ryzen master user manual that you need to enable HPET in windows to use it. and, yes you do need to enable it. but that COULD explain the lower gaming benchmark numbers in some cases.
Realbench will give you a message if you try to run it without the HPET setting in the EFI. As a number of the reviews have used realbench, I doubt that that is the issue.

Look in "DRAM timing configuration" section for the primary memory timings.

I cant tell you where to look but you might like to try 125 BCLK with a 32 multiplier instead of 100BCLK with 40 multiplier. You will still get 4Ghz but you will have the option to clock memory to speeds higher than 3200 and it may help with combined CPU/GPU performance.

pstates are the performance states that the cpu operates in. pstate0 is running at full speed and different loads/temps will push the CPU to different pstate levels. Not seen that so I cant advise how the settings could be adjusted. It is possible that cinebench and Gaming are operating the CPU at different pstates and gaming performance could be recovered in those settings.
 
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