Demystifying AMD’s AM3 Platform and Bulldozer Compatibility

More recently we had manufacturers like ASUS and MSI claiming that some of their products in their existing line-up will in fact work with Bulldozer (AM3+ CPUs), but that may be a case of unofficial support. In the past, there were also talks and rumours of specific support – in the meantime let’s take a look at the key points of how we see the whole fiasco.

  • AMD Won’t be Officially Supporting Bulldozer on the AM3 Platform
  • Major Differences of Official and Unofficial Support
  • No New Details Coming from AMD and Manufacturers like ASUS
  • Conclusion – Few AM3 Boards will Support Bulldozer, but Performance Impact is Unknown

Word straight from AMD is that they won’t be officially supporting Bulldozer on the current AM3 platform and even though they originally had plans not to. Reason is that Bulldozer ships with certain features which includes advanced power management and clock gating capabilities and will in turn require the AM3+ socket.

For those of you wondering about “official and unofficial” support, one thing to point out is that unofficial support may hint voiding your warranty if anything were to go wrong. While on the other hand, official support is still kind of still in the grey area despite the AM2+ boards officially supported AM3 processors in the past. Ultimately it’s up to the motherboard makers to map all this out since the fix isn’t simply a BIOS update. The 780G was a good example, it was capable of supporting virtually all of AMD’s processors, but when it came to the mATX form factor boards – they didn’t have the capacity to take the 125W Phenom CPUs.

As mentioned earlier, AMD only made it clear that Bulldozer won’t be supported on AM3 and while ASUS had made previous announcements – they will cease discussing this matter publicly as per AMD’s request.

Wrapping up, some AM3 boards will inevitably support the upcoming Bulldozer processors and while the extent and overall affected performance, power consumption, and temperatures are all left unknown. Without a doubt, many companies will update their latest and greatest offerings rather than older models if they were to provide this backward compatibility. What we would suggest is that it would be better to wait on an AM3+ ready board rather than buying one that “supposedly” has support and grabbing an AM3+ CPU later on.


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