AMD confirms Ryzen chips' stuttering performance on Windows 10, 11
Workarounds today and fixes coming soon for fTPM tech
AMD has confirmed there is a performance problem with some of its Zen-family processors and Microsoft's operating systems.
Reports of stuttering performance under Windows 10 and 11 on some Ryzen systems have been rumbling for a while now and it appears the problem is lurking within Firmware Trusted Platform Module (fTPM) used in a number of AMD's chips.
TPM was infamously made a requirement for Windows 11, although Windows 10 (and recent editions of Windows Server) can also take advantage of the technology. Its purpose is to carry out security-related functions in hardware and ward off miscreants.
The fTPM technology is implemented in the system firmware rather than requiring a dedicated chip and there are some issues.
AMD's explanation is that "select AMD Ryzen system configurations may intermittently perform extended fTPM-related memory transactions in SPI flash memory ('SPIROM') located on the motherboard, which can lead to temporary pauses in system interactivity or responsiveness until the transaction is concluded."
The practical upshot of which is a stutter or lag that may last as long as one or two seconds, just enough to be slightly irritating for productivity workloads and disastrous for affected gamers.
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The fix, according to AMD, is a firmware update. The processor designer has handed the scheduling of the refresh over to motherboard manufacturers and reckons the first updates should turn up during May 2022.
With May being a while to wait, one immediate workaround for affected customers is to simply turn off the fTPM, although this carries risks of potential hardware compatibility issues. A fortunate few may be able to take AMD's advice and switch over to a hardware TPM (dTPM) for the time being, assuming it is supported by their motherboard. In all cases, care needs to be taken to avoid losing data. Using BitLocker? You might want to keep that encryption key to hand.
The fTPM problem is hardly the first AMD devices to have had issues for Windows users. For instance, there have been performance complaints for the company's chippery slugged under Windows 11 last October with all workloads affected, but the problem again was particularly painful for gamers.
Going forwards, AMD has signed up to put Microsoft's latest effort at TPM, Pluton, onto its silicon, with Lenovo due to ship its AMD-powered ThinkPad Z13 and Z16 laptops armed with the tech in May. Intel fans will have a bit longer to wait. ®