One of the best things about going with an AMD Ryzen-powered computer over the last few years is that Team Red has allowed users to keep their motherboards far longer than Intel would. But, that could be changing.
In some recent leaked slides spotted by Tom's Hardware, AMD detailed socket details of its Zen 3 and Zen 4 Epyc processors, and it doesn't look like the Zen 4 data center lineup will be compatible with the same SP3 socket as Zen 1-3. Now, it's important to note that this doesn't necessarily mean that AMD Ryzen processors based on the Zen 4 microarchitecture will need a new motherboard, but it does seem likely.
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As for why you may need to buy a new motherboard for a Ryzen 5(?) processor, is that we might both see a jump to PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 memory – the second of which would require a new motherboard anyway. This is definitely not set in stone, but according to the leaked presentation, AMD did say that the Genoa architecture, which will be based on Zen 4, will come with "new memory." We're not sure that means an upgrade to DDR5, but it would be about time to see a new memory standard make its way to the mainstream anyway.
These leaked slides are, of course, all about AMD Epyc processors, so it is entirely possible that it will have little to no impact on consumer products. These enterprise-level pieces of silicon do end up getting new features first. We still haven't seen DDR5 memory in an actual working system, but it would make sense for it to make its way to enterprise systems – or even HEDT Threadripper – before mainstream platforms.
According to another report from Tom's Hardware, SK Hynix is expecting the world's first DDR5 RAM to launch next year, so the timeline seems to line up. Either way, its impossible to actually tell the future, so we're just going to have to wait and see. Regardless, if you've recently upgraded to a Ryzen 3rd Generation processor, and aren't planning to upgrade until the 5th Generation, just keep in mind that you might need to take a look at the best motherboards when making that next upgrade.
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Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.