Motherboard Incoming AM4 Mini-ITX boards

MarcParis

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Apr 1, 2016
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Hi all,

Here is the good news : Biostar just unveiled yesterday the first AM4 mini ITX X370GTN!



More info here :
http://wccftech.com/biostar-am4-x370-amd-ryzen-intel-kaby-lake/
 

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Sep 26, 2015
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Interesting! I was wondering if any of the vendors would use the X370 instead of the X300 for additional I/O. The one curious thing I would have is whether or not the PCI-e slot will be able to be bifurcated, as X370 may support up to two slots.

But good seeing a fully featured ITX board like this! I'm wondering if RAM speeds are so low compared to their top end board (2667 vs. 2933) simply because of validation? No mention of Wi-Fi, either.
 

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4 DIMMs on an ITX? That'd be nice :)

A second M.2 slot could be doable. They would have to allocate all of the 4 GP PCI-e 3.0 lanes to it. However, bear in mind that these two M.2 slots would not be able to be put into a RAID...one is hanging directly off of the processor and the other through the chipset.

Also, with X300 chips (and I only came to this realization a few days back), the only I/O on that platform is the 16 PCI-e lanes for the GPU, 4 PCI-e lanes for either an M.2 or 2 SATA + crippled M.2, and 4 PCI-e lanes being passed through the chipset, which will be used for ethernet, possibly Wi-Fi, and probably hooked up to ASMedia chips for additional USB and/or SATA.
 

MarcParis

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Sure 2 dimn slots in the norm on mini ITX...:)

I'm very curious to see how is performing Ryzen vs Kabylake...that's strange that AMD didn't compare a lot vs kabylake (only a streaming demo...that was quite useless as most of streamers are using gpu streaming tools)
 

TheHig

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Terrific news! I am definitely putting a Ryzen itx build together once we have some reviews and boards to choose from.
 

Phuncz

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Thanks @MarcParis for the tip, I've made an article about it and ofcourse mentioned you :)
https://smallformfactor.net/news/mini-itx-am4-board-biostar-unveiled

About the PCIe lanes, don't forget the chipset and CPU have a "bus" that allows more than a few PCIe 3.0 lanes these days. Intel's latest 200-series and Kaby Lake have 24 PCIe lanes just from the chipset, that's excluding LAN and storage ! I'm not sure how many Ryzen and X370 have, but I'm sure it'll be more than a few :) So multiple M.2 slots shouldn't be a problem.

The x2 lanes for the BioStar mITX B350 board is strange though, since the BioStar mATX B350 board has both more PCIe slots and a 32Gb/s M.2 slot. So I guess it's an arbitrary limitation.
 
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EdZ

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The '24 lanes;' from the 2xx series chipsets (and the 20 lanes from the 1xx series) all are bottlenecked by the link between the chipset and the processor, which is effectively a PCIe 3.0 x4 link. In a small number of cases where DMA is possible (e.g. CUDA with GPUDirect) you might be able to stream data between PCIe devices without having to go through system memory (which is connected to the CPU on the far side of that chipset-CPU link), but for the vast majority of cases everything connected to the chipset will have to go via that x4 link.
 
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Sean Crees

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Not generally a fan of Biostar, but i'm sure if they are making one the other major players out there will likely have offerings as well. I'll wait to see what MSI, Asus, and Gigabyte have. It's nice to see DDR4-2667 as the default speed, up from Intel's 2133. In the end, the board layout is the most important aspect for me.
 

Phuncz

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The '24 lanes;' from the 2xx series chipsets (and the 20 lanes from the 1xx series) all are bottlenecked by the link between the chipset and the processor, which is effectively a PCIe 3.0 x4 link. In a small number of cases where DMA is possible (e.g. CUDA with GPUDirect) you might be able to stream data between PCIe devices without having to go through system memory (which is connected to the CPU on the far side of that chipset-CPU link), but for the vast majority of cases everything connected to the chipset will have to go via that x4 link.
Yes indeed, an important part I left out there. I'm curious though if they'll upgrade the DMI capacity before people are getting used to two or more M.2 drives which could let the bottleneck rear its ugly face. Most scenarios usually don't hit this limit or you're looking at workstation loads which Intel wants you to look at other solutions anyway.
 

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Here is what the Intel and AMD platforms offer in terms of I/O

X99 Platform
Processor: 40 Gen3 lanes + 4 Gen3 lanes (w/ DMI extensions)
Chipset: 4 Gen3 lanes in / 8 Gen2 lanes out + USB + SATA

X299 Platform
Processor: 44 Gen3 lanes + 4 Gen3 lanes (w/ DMI extensions)
Chipset: 4 Gen3 lanes in / 24 Gen3 lanes out + USB + SATA

Z270 Platform
Processor: 16 Gen3 lanes + 4 Gen3 lanes (w/ DMI extensions)
Chipset: 4 Gen3 lanes in / 24 Gen3 lanes out + USB + SATA

X370 + Ryzen Platform
Processor: 16 Gen3 lanes + 4 Gen3 lanes (configurable as 2 SATA + 2 PCI-e, 2 SATA + x2 M.2, or x4 M.2) + 4 Gen3 lanes (to chipset) + USB
Chipset: 4 Gen3 lanes in / 4 Gen3 lanes out (configurable as 4 PCI-e lanes or 2 SATA Express) + 8 Gen2 lanes out + USB + SATA

X300 + Ryzen Platform

Processor: 16 Gen3 lanes + 4 Gen3 lanes (configurable as 2 SATA + 2 PCI-e, 2 SATA + x2 M.2, or x4 M.2) + 4 Gen3 lanes (to chipset) + USB
Chipset: 4 Gen3 lanes in / 4 Gen3 lanes out (configurable as 4 PCI-e lanes or 2 SATA Express)

Note that AMD has embedded I/O into the processors and this changes with the type of processor. As far as we know, all high-end Ryzen will have the same 24 Gen3 lanes + 4 USB 3.0, but the APU's will have a different I/O configuration with fewer PCI-e lanes, etc. The same AM4 socket is used for all AMD platforms.

Notice that the Z270 and X299 chipsets have the same output...it wouldn't surprise me is the chipset silicon was the same. Only the socket would be different between the two, but that won't stop substantial premiums being applied to the X299 boards.

All chipsets have 4 PCI-e Gen3 lanes bridging them to the processor. X300 essentially will be a pass-through, but all others are essentially fancy PCI-e switches with logic for USB, SATA, and other interfaces (TPM, etc.)
 

Sean Crees

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Well the Ryzen CPU's are going to have a dedicated 16x pci-e lanes that go straight to the single pci-e slot, and then will have an additional 4x pci-e lanes for M.2/sata, integrated 2ch ddr4 memory controller, and 4x USB 3.1 gen1. That's all without a chipset. Honestly i don't really need anything else. They could make a board with a single x16 pcie slot and a single x4 m.2 pcie slot hooked straight up to the CPU and nothing else and i'd be happy. Sound/LAN/WIFI aren't even handled by the chipsets. I'll wait for an x300 itx board, i don't need all the fancy extra's you get from the larger chipsets.
 
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3lfk1ng

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I find it really interesting to see Biostar capitalizing on this opportunity. They appear to be making a pretty solid attempt to tackle the enthusiast market and making an enthusiast ITX board, especially for an unproven platform such as the AM4, is no small feat. I wonder if this means that Biostar is turning a new leaf and they are ready to become a bigger player in the motherboard industry.

At CES we heard from several big manufacturers that they "are not" going to be making a Ryzen ITX board (When questioned, Gigabyte, ASRock, and ASUS reps told us that they weren't going to invest in ITX motherboards for AM4 unless sales are off the charts) but AMD specifically told me that 3 ITX boards are currently in development but they won't be available at Ryzen launch (AMD wouldn't discuss who was making them as the board partners asked not to be disclosed) so with Biostar announced, it makes me wonder who the other 2 players are.

Another thing worth mentioning is Biostar's use of the ATX-designed x370 chipset. I wonder if the other board partners will skip the "slightly gutted" ITX-designed x300 chipset altogether.