Surprisingly, AMD released a new microcode for Zen 1 to Zen 3 processors. Since there is no changelog, no clear statement can be made about the content, but the microcode for older processors has been greatly increased. Read more about this below.
Microcode from processor manufacturers like AMD or Intel is the “machine language” used to control a processor’s arithmetic units and must be updated regularly to prevent security holes like Specter or Meltdown. Microcode updates are generally made and distributed only for current generation products, as these can benefit most from optimizations.
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However, AMD has released a new microcode that is not only designed for Zen 3 chips, but also includes Zen 1 and Zen 2. However, as is almost always the case when microcode is released, there is no visible changelog. , so it’s not clear what improvements the new code will bring. However, the code itself shows that in addition to the 19h family (Zen3), the 17h family (Zen/Zen+/Zen2) also got an update this time, whereas this only applied to 19h in the past. The last update of 17h was before December 2019.
Aside from the surprising inclusion of the older chips, the upgrade is also relatively large. Increases the 17h-family microcode to 9700 bytes from the previous 6476 bytes, but leaves the 19h-family code at its previous size. However, without an official statement from AMD, one can only speculate on the content of the microcode. Two scenarios are more likely. Since the last update was over two years ago, AMD could have combined routine improvements and small updates and is now distributing them in microcode, or fixed security leaks that AMD didn’t want to leave even with older chips.
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