AMD Zen 5 CPUs could be nearly ready – which would be a big problem for Intel

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
(Image credit: Future)

AMD’s Zen 5 processors might be with us sooner than expected, or at least a new development has given us fresh hope this could be the case.

Regular hardware leaker HXL brought this to our attention on X (formerly Twitter) by flagging up the release of a new BIOS from Asus.

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The firmware update for the Asus ROG Crosshair and Strix X670E motherboards sports a new AGESA version 1.1.7.0, which carries support for Zen 5 CPUs – the next-gen desktop silicon from AMD which may be the Ryzen 8000 or 9000 series. (The rumor mill hasn’t yet decided which is the most probable route, naming-wise, though the latter seems more likely).

With BIOS support actually being worked on now, this indicates that Zen 5 processors are perhaps closer to release than we thought, as Asus wouldn’t be building out this facet of the BIOS yet if the next-gen CPUs were still a long way off.

Or at least, we can assume that’s the case, anyway, adding a good deal of the usual caution. Also worth noting is that this firmware grants support for up to 256GB of DDR5 system RAM, should you be able to afford such an outlandish proposition for one of the best desktop PCs.


Analysis: How soon for Zen 5?

This firmware release is still in beta, and it’s an early working version with lots of changes applied – so the majority of users should steer well clear of the update for now. All it represents really, as mentioned, is a tantalizing hint that Zen 5 could be challenging to grab spots on our list of the best processors sooner than we thought.

How soon? Well, AMD has recently confirmed that Zen 5 will arrive as planned in the second half of 2024, so maybe we can hope for a Q3 debut now. Indeed, we’ve previously been treated to speculation that suggests next-gen Ryzen CPUs went into mass production a few months back, and other rumors pinning hopes on not just a Q3 debut, but an early one (perhaps July, in other words – June was even mentioned not so long ago).

In the interests of balance, we should note that there’s contradictory chatter about Zen 5 not going into mass production until Q3, pointing to a Q4 release – and obviously that could still happen.

So, we still need to regard the prospect of an imminent Zen 5 launch warily, for sure, but this move from Asus is a more concrete sign that progress is ticking along nicely. And we are expecting something to happen with Zen 5 CPUs during Computex, which is in June, but that’s likely to be a reveal of next-gen Ryzen rather than anything else.

What’s particularly interesting about the prospect of getting Zen 5 early is that Intel’s Arrow Lake processors may not arrive until very late in 2024, or even early in 2025, if another fresh rumor is correct – and if the next-gen CPU race pans out this way, Team Blue will be in trouble.

Intel can’t really afford to leave Raptor Lake Refresh – which was only a marginal step forward from Raptor Lake – to face Zen 5 for a long period of time, and not expect to get trounced. And with Zen 5 X3D processors with 3D V-Cache set to follow the vanilla desktop CPUs, Intel will have to deal with that challenge, too, possibly early in 2025. 

Via VideoCardz

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).