Question [STH][LTT] Lenovo vendor-locking AMD Ryzen-based CPUs, not just server, but workstation/consumer as well.

VirtualLarry

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This is really an unfortunate development.

Here's a YT as well.


This is an excellent, information-packed video. One takeaway was that installing a non-PSB Ryzen CPU into a mobo that supported PSB, that the "new" non-vendor-locked CPU would then become vendor-locked!.

Edit: LTT actually tests vendor-locking in action on a Lenovo PC.

 
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DrMrLordX

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That's awful. Preventing CPUs from being reused when they are otherwise fine is just immoral, and a waste of valuable resources.
It is, but let's be honest, the majority of the waste you get from e-waste is from things like PCBs (motherboards). Having to pitch the CPU when the rest of the system goes to the junkyard is really not going to make much of a difference. What it does mean is that used Ryzen Pro CPUs on eBay must now be held in some suspicion alongside the used EPYCs and Threadripper Pros.
 

PingSpike

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Feb 25, 2004
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Apparently from what I'm reading, if you install a CPU in one of these lenovo (or at least some dell's actually) that works on everything it will blow the fuses and then "transform" the cpu into a lenovo only cpu the same as the ones from factory.

This is disgusting honestly. But it's not a surprise, since this is the perverted way a lot of businesses run these days. People have been buying old Intel cpus for cheap and using respun Chinese motherboards. Every CPU that is destroyed is another CPU that AMD could sell. In a world where there is apparently a silicon shortage destroying perfectly good hardware to try and upsell some one to a new one is apparently necessary to maximize profit.
 
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DrMrLordX

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Every CPU that is destroyed is another CPU that AMD could sell.
That's a misrepresentation of the motives behind Lenovo doing such a thing. Usually when you have a used workstation/server CPU for sale on eBay, it is a unit that has been stripped out of an old machine that was probably working but on its way to the dump anyway due to a departmental decision to replace hardware. So it went to a liquidator who stripped valuable parts from the machines and threw away the rest. DIMMs, CPUs, and maybe dGPUs came out of those machines. The majority of waste comes from the case/rack and motherboard going to the recycler. You don't see as many boards or PSUs coming from those machines. Possibly because those parts are proprietary enough that people generally can't use them, reducing their market value. I personally haven't seen many "respun" motherboards.

Those CPUs are then resold to parties who haven't trashed their machines yet and either need a). a better CPU than the one they have now that is supported by the microcode or b). a replacement for a part that failed. Any sale of a CPU to such a party hurts the OEM first, since that enables the user to extend the life of their machine for a bit instead of sending it to the recycler and buying a new replacement. Yeah, AMD/Intel get another sale as well, but they aren't the ones primarily responsible for this behavior. And you have to think that OEMs like Lenovo asked for this feature.
 

Shmee

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That's a misrepresentation of the motives behind Lenovo doing such a thing. Usually when you have a used workstation/server CPU for sale on eBay, it is a unit that has been stripped out of an old machine that was probably working but on its way to the dump anyway due to a departmental decision to replace hardware. So it went to a liquidator who stripped valuable parts from the machines and threw away the rest. DIMMs, CPUs, and maybe dGPUs came out of those machines. The majority of waste comes from the case/rack and motherboard going to the recycler. You don't see as many boards or PSUs coming from those machines. Possibly because those parts are proprietary enough that people generally can't use them, reducing their market value. I personally haven't seen many "respun" motherboards.

Those CPUs are then resold to parties who haven't trashed their machines yet and either need a). a better CPU than the one they have now that is supported by the microcode or b). a replacement for a part that failed. Any sale of a CPU to such a party hurts the OEM first, since that enables the user to extend the life of their machine for a bit instead of sending it to the recycler and buying a new replacement. Yeah, AMD/Intel get another sale as well, but they aren't the ones primarily responsible for this behavior. And you have to think that OEMs like Lenovo asked for this feature.
Hmm, you have a point about bad OEMs likely being the driving force behind this, but that does not exonorate AMD for allowing it. If they gave in to said request, this is still partly their fault.
 

VirtualLarry

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I've suggested as much, that GPUs should "tattoo" them selves to a particular motherboard.

It could be suggested as an anti-theft device, for LAN parties and such.

Conveniently, one would have to pay money to Nvidia, and prove ownership of said GPU, to move it between systems / re-tattoo it.

Thus providing a continued revenue stream from also the used GPU market. Maybe even enough so that they would drop the "LHR" non-sense.
 

Shmee

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:O Don't give them any ideas please! Anyway, I suspect that this might be illegal in the USA, especially if the GPU was purchased separately, and not part of an OEM prebuilt.
 

Shivansps

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The reason behind this is very simply actually, they want to stop cheap, old cpus showing up at ebay after the servers/workstations get decomissed. Because they dont want those things to end at the consumer market.

Just doing a quick search, you can find 4C/8T 1155 Xeons for less than $40. Just think who gain from this and who losses and you already know who is the driving force behind it.

That's a misrepresentation of the motives behind Lenovo doing such a thing. Usually when you have a used workstation/server CPU for sale on eBay, it is a unit that has been stripped out of an old machine that was probably working but on its way to the dump anyway due to a departmental decision to replace hardware. So it went to a liquidator who stripped valuable parts from the machines and threw away the rest. DIMMs, CPUs, and maybe dGPUs came out of those machines. The majority of waste comes from the case/rack and motherboard going to the recycler. You don't see as many boards or PSUs coming from those machines. Possibly because those parts are proprietary enough that people generally can't use them, reducing their market value. I personally haven't seen many "respun" motherboards.

Those CPUs are then resold to parties who haven't trashed their machines yet and either need a). a better CPU than the one they have now that is supported by the microcode or b). a replacement for a part that failed. Any sale of a CPU to such a party hurts the OEM first, since that enables the user to extend the life of their machine for a bit instead of sending it to the recycler and buying a new replacement. Yeah, AMD/Intel get another sale as well, but they aren't the ones primarily responsible for this behavior. And you have to think that OEMs like Lenovo asked for this feature.
3 problems with that:

1) Who brought a OEM prebuilt system is unlikely to upgrade it whiout the OEM being involved.
2) A Lenovo OEM cpu will still work on a Lenovo OEM system with a smaller CPU so that does not fix anything.
3) The CPU (and the cpu alone), is very unlikely to fail after the OEM system warranty expired. PSU and motherboards are far more likely. So the chances that a cpu would fix an older system are slim at best.

AMD is behind this, you can be sure that years down the line they are going to have issues with cheap AM4, TR and EPYCs showing up at <$50 in ebay.
 
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DisEnchantment

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I guess since Ryzen/EPYC are full blown SoCs without really needing a chipset, the only way to lock it to a firmware is inside the CPU.

I don't know if there a way to escape this.
For instance, our corporate systems can only connect to our VPN only if the PC booted with our system image and nothing else.
So I imagine the firmware also will boot only if it detects a host CPU/BIOS which have been authorized by our corporate IT.
On top of this we need to use access card or dongles to enable VPN client to authenticate.
This is fairly standard across many corporations.

PSB and Microsoft Pluton sounds exactly like what corporate IT ordered. No other option for CPU vendor except to comply.
There is also another feature currently called Protected Processor Inventory Number (PPIN) which could also potentially be used to identify CPU during booting.

Sucks for the the folks buying them on ebay though, It is no different than buying a locked iPhone.
 

DrMrLordX

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Hmm, you have a point about bad OEMs likely being the driving force behind this, but that does not exonorate AMD for allowing it. If they gave in to said request, this is still partly their fault.
Of course they share some blame, though it would not be happening at all were it not for companies like HP and Lenovo. If orgs want to stop these practices, they need to take their money to other OEMs. It also reduces the value of used hardware moving into liquidation.

AMD knows what they have to do to pave the way for future design wins with the OEMs.

3 problems with that:

1) Who brought a OEM prebuilt system is unlikely to upgrade it whiout the OEM being involved.
DiY Xeon is a tiny share of the market. There are plenty of small shops in places like SE Asia where you see these pulls originate that are more than happy to sell upgrades to customers on machines that may not even be under service contract anymore.

2) A Lenovo OEM cpu will still work on a Lenovo OEM system with a smaller CPU so that does not fix anything.
Fow now.

3) The CPU (and the cpu alone), is very unlikely to fail after the OEM system warranty expired. PSU and motherboards are far more likely. So the chances that a cpu would fix an older system are slim at best.
That makes no sense. While AM4 is sort of an exception, what kind of machine do you think can host an old CPU that has been pulled from a defunct office machine? That's right, old hardware. People aren't putting these in x570 boards for their g4m3r rigs.

AMD is behind this
Absolute nonsense. Otherwise all the OEMs would be forced to do it.
 
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Shivansps

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DiY Xeon is a tiny share of the market. There are plenty of small shops in places like SE Asia where you see these pulls originate that are more than happy to sell upgrades to customers on machines that may not even be under service contract anymore.
yes but i really dont think Lenovo (or anyone), worries about that. Simply put, if they wish to, they could limit memory and disks (that are the main candidates for an upgrade of a old system) to Lenovo(or wharever OEM this is) only, they just need to code that in bios, thats it. But they dont, so i dont belive they are going to start with the CPU considering it is far more complicated and they dont sell CPUs.


That makes no sense. While AM4 is sort of an exception, what kind of machine do you think can host an old CPU that has been pulled from a defunct office machine? That's right, old hardware. People aren't putting these in x570 boards for their g4m3r rigs.
The point is that you are unlikely to have old hardware with a dead cpu, so you are unlikely to fix a non working system with one of those cpus, im not saying it cant happen.
You may have old hardware with a worse CPU, but that is point #1, i dont think anyone cares for that. You would want to add/change memory and or disks to a old OEM system by 3rd party shops or by in-site staff, that i know it happens a lot actually. What i never heard is an enterprise or small bussiness coming to a shop with 100 OEM PCs and asking for new cpus to be installed. Again, im not saying it cant happen.

Absolute nonsense. Otherwise all the OEMs would be forced to do it.
Do you really belive Lenovo went to AMD and asked them nicely to add a system that would lock all their cpus into their motherboards? And AMD just replied "Oh, thats cool, lets do it"? This is present on AM4 cpus, what likely means this is on every CPU, whats a little worrying tbh.

Whats worse. this only affect CPU, not the motherboard, you can still upgrade a old OEM system system with a CPU that is not vendor locked, this can only work as you said if EVERY OEM does this, and even if that happens you can still upgrade those systems with a consumer CPU(maybe) or a vendor locked CPU of the same OEM... so, no, the only thing they are really doing with this is to avoid for those CPU to end in consumer hardware, this is how AMD PSB works, today.

Also, Lenovo may be getting some price cuts on their cpus on the condition they have to vendor-lock them. That makes far more sence that trying to stop some very niche cases in a very ineffective way.
 
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DrMrLordX

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yes but i really dont think Lenovo (or anyone), worries about that.
Um, exactly? It's not the DiY crowds buying up used Xeons and EPYCs to slot into their old prebuilts as an upgrade or replacement. It's mostly small shops looking to extend the life of departmental gear. Which was my point.

The point is that you are unlikely to have old hardware with a dead cpu
It does happen. You also have plenty of prebuilts with a broad range of CPUs that can be supported in microcode. So if I have an old Dell with a low-level Xeon and I want to try out a faster one for cheap, I just grab one sourced from a scrapped HP and try it out. Or vice versa.

You may have old hardware with a worse CPU, but that is point #1, i dont think anyone cares for that.
Then who in the heck is buying these used Xeons, EPYCs, Threadripper Pros, and Ryzen Pros that are the subject of so much consternation?

Do you really belive Lenovo went to AMD and asked them nicely
No, they likely demanded it. Or else, they likely threated to deprioritize AMD chips in Lenovo systems. AMD has struggled for design wins in the past.

Also, Lenovo may be getting some price cuts on their cpus on the condition they have to vendor-lock them.
Pure speculation. AMD sells everything they make no matter what happens in the secondhand market. Lenovo, on the other hand . . .
 
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Shmee

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Maybe not as much anymore with new CPUs, but it used to be that many Xeons could actually be bought cheap 2nd hand by enthusiasts, and used in desktop boards. I have done that with 2 Xeon X5660s, and a Xeon E5 1660v3. These will even OC nicely in desktop boards.

With AM4 having potential support for so many CPUs, I could see enthusiasts buying used Ryzen Pro CPUs on the cheap for a new build or even an upgrade, if they had an older Ryzen.
 

Shivansps

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Pure speculation. AMD sells everything they make no matter what happens in the secondhand market. Lenovo, on the other hand .
Everything about this is speculation, we have no way to know for sure the real reason behind this.

But what i can tell you, for sure, is that AMD is not selling everything they have, they are sitting on a large stock of unsold AM4 Renoir PROs. Those CPUs are showing up in the consumer market in large amounts (with AMD approval), the biggest proof of that is AMD allowing OEMs to release A320 bios to support Renoirs APU (that they never officially launched to the consumer market) because they just dont have enoght A520/B450/B550 for the demand.

And in doing so they engaged in very, very shady artificial segmentations and got themselves into a PR disaster in the process.
The A320 bios now has the Cezanne microcode in too, but the Agesa is actively blocking it from booting. And they initially refused to support B350/X370 because they are not in production. Then they allowed Renoir, and now Veermer only on X370.

From what i saw on the video, the locked APU were the Cezanne PRO, something that havent leaked into retail channels yet, so i see it as possible that they dont want these APU to show up in the consumer market. I really fail to see how Lenovo profit from this, the motherboards can still accept any CPU that is not locked to another vendor, it is pointless unless everyone does it. The only thing this does is not to allow a Lenovo CPU to work on consumer boards or in another OEM system, thats it.
 
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DrMrLordX

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Everything about this is speculation, we have no way to know for sure the real reason behind this.
We know that two OEMs do this and the others don't. That should tell you who is behind it.

Maybe not as much anymore with new CPUs, but it used to be that many Xeons could actually be bought cheap 2nd hand by enthusiasts, and used in desktop boards. I have done that with 2 Xeon X5660s, and a Xeon E5 1660v3. These will even OC nicely in desktop boards.

With AM4 having potential support for so many CPUs, I could see enthusiasts buying used Ryzen Pro CPUs on the cheap for a new build or even an upgrade, if they had an older Ryzen.
Ryzen Pro is the one that will probably cause the most trouble. TR Pro and EPYC sockets are not present on most AMD desktop rigs. The age of the cheap drop-in Xeon is also over.
 
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