Saturday, May 21, 2022

AMD fixes the stuttering issue on Ryzen systems caused by firmware-TPM

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AMD has discovered the root of an fTPM-induced system stuttering issue on Ryzen systems and has given a BIOS repair to motherboard manufacturers. The BIOS updates, on the other hand, will take some time to reach the market, with the first one arriving in May 2022. Meanwhile, AMD recommends utilising a ‘workaround’ that uses a discrete TPM key instead of the processor’s built-in version. Notably, not all systems, particularly laptops, support this.

AMD has kept silent on the matter for months. However, multiple reports indicate that enabling the fTPM (firmware trusted platform module) feature causes system stuttering on AM4 Ryzen computers. TPM functionality is a security requirement for Windows 11 that is not fully enforced, but it is also present in Windows 10. The fTPM is a standard security feature with AMD CPUs and eliminates the need for a separate TPM device. Both the fTPM and discrete TPM have the same goal: to hold an unchanging security key, allowing for a higher level of security. On the other hand, different approaches store the key in different places.

The fTPM key is located in the SPI flash memory on the motherboard (commonly referred to as a BIOS chip). The fTPM issue, according to AMD, is caused by “temporary delays in system interactivity or responsiveness” caused by fTPM-related memory transactions with the chip. AM4 systems running the Zen+ to Zen 3 architectures are affected by the problem.

AMD fixes the stuttering issue on Ryzen systems caused by firmware-TPM

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AMD’s fTPM issues affect both Windows 10 and Windows 11 Ryzen PCs, with the most common side effect being one to two seconds of unpredictable stuttering and lagging. These intervals occur numerous times each day during all types of tasks, including gaming. They manifest as jerky screen performance during system stutters, interrupted and distorted audio, the programme hangs, and mouse cursor hitching.

To get around the problem, most users just deactivated the TPM requirement in Windows 11, although AMD currently has remedies coming via motherboard firmware updates (UEFI/BIOS). It will take some time for those fixes (AGESA 1207 or newer) to go through standard support channels. As a result, AMD recommends disabling the fTPM feature in the processor and using an independent TPM device instead. To avoid losing any encrypted data, you’ll need to take particular precautions during the process. These gadgets can be expensive, ranging from $20 to $170.

Here are the details in AMD’s freshly-issued support document: 

  • This documentation provides information on improving intermittent performance stutter(s) on select PCs running Windows 10 and 11 with Firmware Trusted Platform Module (“fTPM”) enabled. 
  • Issue Description
  • AMD has determined 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.
  • Update and Workaround
  • Update: Affected PCs will require a motherboard system BIOS (BeOS) update containing enhanced modules for fTPM interaction with SPIROM. AMD expects flashable customer sBIOS files to be available in early May 2022. The exact BIOS availability timing for a specific motherboard depends on your manufacturer’s testing and integration schedule. Flashable updates for motherboards will be based on AMD AGESA 1207 (or newer).
     
  • Workaround: As an immediate solution, affected customers dependent on fTPM functionality for Trusted Platform Module support may instead use a hardware TPM (“dTPM”) device for trusted computing. Platform dTPM modules utilise onboard non-volatile memory (NVRAM) that supersedes the TPM/SPIROM interaction described in this article.
     
    1. COMPATIBILITY: Please check with your system or motherboard manufacturer to ensure that your platform supports add-in dTPM modules before attempting or implementing this workaround.
       
    2. WARNING: If switching an active system from fTPM to dTPM, you must disable TPM-backed encryption systems (e.g. BitLocker Drive Encryption) and back up vital system data before switching TPM devices. You must have full administrative access to the system or explicit support from your IT administrator if the system is managed.
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Also Read:

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5000 specifications leaked online

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Nivedita Bangari
Nivedita Bangari
I am a software engineer by profession and technology is my love, learning and playing with new technologies is my passion.

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