The AMD Threadripper platform represents the red team's first high-end desktop processor range and possibly AMD’s most exciting CPUs in recent memory. Like Intel, they're taking their new server tech and offering it out to PC enthusiasts.
AMD is looking to re-enter the high-end processor market with a bang. Scope out their competition with our guide to the best CPUs for gaming.
- AMD Threadripper release date
Early August. That's when the first two Ryzen Threadripper CPUs will launch, starting with the 16-core 1950X and 12-core 1920X.
- AMD Threadripper price
The 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X will retail at $999 and the 12-core 1920X will start at $799.
- AMD Threadripper specs
There are nine different SKUs, from 10- to 16-cores, but they all come with 32MB of L3 cache and the full 64 lanes of PCIe 3.0 support.
- AMD Threadripper X399 chipset
The TR4 CPU socket is a 4,094 pin monster, and that's because Threadripper is the first modern AMD CPU to use the LGA design rather than pins on chips.
- AMD Threadripper performance
We've only seen a few benchmarks so far, but the same Blender demo used for Ryzen 8-core is completed in less than half the time with Threadripper.
When the rumours began to fly back in March, it almost seemed too good to be true. Straight after the release of the Ryzen chips, surely they wouldn’t release a 16-core CPU, would they?
AMD’s Financial Analyst Day proved the rumours true. Operating on a “brand new high-end desktop platform” rumoured to be code-named Whitehaven, this 16-core mammoth chip would, in essence, be a big middle finger to Intel’s X-series CPUs.
The announcement got Intel worried – despite assertions their roadmap was always going to involve a massive jump in cores, it seems like news of Threadripper’s 16 cores hit the blue team camp and the panic alarms were activated. Until AMD’s chip became common knowledge, the Intel CPU with the highest core-count was the ten-core Core i7-6950X.
So it was that Intel’s Core i9 series was expanded to include 12, 14, 16, and 18-core options. Having the top dog in the numbers race may not be enough to save Intel’s HEDT chips though, judging by the rumoured low pricing of Threadripper…
AMD have officially announced that the Ryzen Threadripper CPUs will be on the shelves in early August.
At their Financial Analyst Day, AMD had teased the core-hungry audience with an entirely non-committal “it’s coming this summer.” They went ahead and did the same thing at Computex, shedding light on the hulking size of the thing (have you seen the size of the TR4 socket on the boards designed to hold it?!) and revealing key details about PCIe 3.0 lanes and RAM compatibility. Still no release date, though.
A more concrete release window came from Alienware. At E3 they announced they would have exclusive access to the Ryzen Threadripper CPUs for their Area-51 desktops throughout 2017. That means there will be no other PC manufacturer able to create Threadripper rigs… well, unless you count the hundreds of system integrators building bespoke PCs for their customers anyway.
Alienware claimed their Threadripper edition would be released on July 27th, but AMD have now confirmed that is only going to be when the pre-orders will start, not when you will actually be able to pick up a new Dell-y Threadripper rig.
We’ve also heard from manufacturers that they will have X399 motherboards ready in July, so it’s looking pretty likely that all the goods will be in place come August.
The final pricing for the inaugural AMD Threadripper CPUs has been revealed by AMD. The 16-core / 32-thread Ryzen Threadripper 1950X is going to retail for $999, some $700 less than Intel's competing 16-core Core i9... whenever that goes on sale.
The only other Threadripper chip AMD is talking about for the August launch is the 12-core / 24-thread Ryzen Threadripper 1920X, which is going to retail for $200 less at $799.
There is meant to be another 16-core CPU sitting beneath the 1950X, the straight Ryzen Threadripper 1950. That's meant to have the same core configuration but run 200MHz slower and, if the announcement there would be six other configurations of Threadripper chip is true, there's a lot of CPU to squeeze in between the $799 and $999 price points.
Bits and Chips also claimed to have sources informing them that the production cost for a Threadripper CPU is around the $110-120 mark. If that’s true, AMD stand to make a hefty profit on each processor, even once you deduct things like retailer’s margin, shipping and R&D costs.
AMD have long been the value proposition in the CPU work, offering their competing products for significantly less than Intel, and it doesn’t seem like they’re abandoning that stance for their high-end CPU range. In fact, it sounds like they want to be competing on high-end performance too.
“We know the high-end price point is $1,999,” AMD’s Mark Papermaster of Intel’s top Skylake-X chips says, “so it’s quite expensive. It does have 18 cores, but I think what we look forward to is just head to head match-ups in performance. Again, we’re quite confident in Threadripper and what it will deliver to our consumers.”
The current expectation is the entire Threadripper range will include 9 SKUs. Ranging from the ten-core Threadripper 1900 to the 16-core Threadripper 1950X, every SKU has 64 PCIe lanes (as AMD’s Jim Anderson revealed at Computex). This will allow enthusiasts to build monstrous PCs with quad graphics card arrays and a host of RAID’d PCIe SSDs.
The Threadripper range is also said to be sporting 32MB of L3 cache across the board, along with 512KB of L2 cache per core, putting the top 16-core chips at 40MB of total L2 and L3 cache.
In terms of the power requirements the ten and 12-core CPUs will reportedly have 125W TDPs and the top-spec 14 and 16-core monsters will run up to 155W TDP. We still don’t know what Intel’s competing Core i9 processors are going to be hitting when they launch, but the current six, eight, and ten-core Skylake-X chips have a TDP of 140W.
Another string to Threadripper’s bow is that each and every chip in the range will be compatible with quad-channel DDR4 – another bragging right when compared to Intel’s high-end CPUs; the bottom rungs of which (those Kaby Lake-X parts) only support dual-channel memory.
In terms of the actual clockspeed of the new processors we’re still a little in the dark. We’ve seen some rumoured Turbo speeds put out which look about right, with the ten and 12-core parts topping out at 3.6GHz. Given the complexity and power requirements of the heifer chips, we’re not convinced there’s going to be a huge amount of overclocking potential in the Threadripper lineup, though Asus did tease some 5GHz frequencies at their motherboard event at Computex this year.
A benchmark on Primatelabs’ Geekbench database (which has since been taken down) showed a 16-core Threadripper SKU, the 1950X, clocking in at 3.4GHz. Sadly, it’s not currently known whether the 4,167 single core and 24,539 multi-core scores the chip received are a result of a performance benchmark or simply of a test run to gauge the platform’s stability.
We’ve seen a few of Threadripper’s X399 motherboards in the flesh and that enormous TR4 CPU socket is quite something to behold. And, if you’re into your pin-counts then you’re in luck, because the TR4 socket has 4,094 of them. This is a big change for AMD because they have, for the first time, opted to use a land grid array (LGA) setup for their consumer-facing CPUs.
In all of AMD’s previous desktop CPU generations they’ve used the pin grid array (PGA) design which has the pins on the processor and the connections in the socket. The LGA layout swaps that around making the CPU itself more robust and the socket more delicate. AMD have, in the past, extolled the virtues of the PGA system in that it makes processor production cheaper and allows them to pass the savings on to the consumer.
The other issue with these sockets is that they’re difficult, and therefore costly, to manufacture. And, because of those 4,094 pins, there are going to be a whole lot more broken, RMA’d boards coming back to the manufacturers and retailers. We’ve spoken to some motherboard manufacturers and they’re expecting the X399 board to be rather pricey, especially compared with the AM4 platform. I would also anticipate some sketchy early performance from the X399 motherboards too; AMD have pulled in the launch of Threadripper so the board makers have had to get their products turned around a lot quicker than they were expecting.
The new X399 chipset and TR4 socket does also make a bit of a mockery of the unified platform noises AMD were making prior to the Ryzen launch this year. By creating the AM4 platform, and making it cross-compatible with both their APU and CPU ranges, AMD had been pretty vocal about how buying a motherboard with an AM4 socket would futureproof users against future AMD releases.
Ryzen product manager, James Prior, had questioned Intel’s methods, saying that with AMD’s unified approach users “won’t have to change motherboard in a year because we’ve added an extra pin to the socket.”
In a way he was right, AMD actually added 2,763 pins in less than a year. The gigantic TR4 socket on the Threadripper-enabled boards has kinda put paid to their unified ‘one socket fits all’ approach...
As you might expect, the current information on Threadripper suggests the CPUs could be a game-changer. As always, though, we’d advise caution – until we get one into our test rig and stack it up against the Skylake-X competition, we’re not going to make any final claims about where your hard-earned cash should be spent.
Hooking one of the Threadripper chips (we can only presume the most powerful SKU) up to four Radeon Vega Frontier Edition graphics cards, AMD wowed the Computex crowd with a Blender render demo that showcased the tech’s ability. When a Ryzen chip performed the same task in previous on-stage demos it took 26 seconds – with the Ryzen Threadripper setup though it took just ten.
However, after all the hype surrounding the CPU, the aforementioned Threadripper 1950X benchmark score doesn’t suggest the most powerful of performances. In fact, AMD’s octa-core Ryzen 7 1700 scored much higher on Geekbench’s database, with a single-core score of 6,103 and multi-core score of 33,591 to Threadripper’s 4,167 and 24,539.
Before you take these results as gospel and burst into tears, though, it’s worth remembering that turbo clock and/or simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) may not have been enabled during this run. Many benchmarks are performed during the testing phase of a product so it’s entirely possible the leaked figures are a result of a testing run. Others have taken the unexpectedly low numbers to mean that the Geekbench figures have been faked, but only time will tell.
AMD have also said that both their 16-core 1950X and 12-core 1920X will outperform Intel's 10-core Core i9 7900X in Cinebench. Well, that's lucky considering they've got a good few extra cores and threads to play with...
This page is regularly updated with all the latest news, rumours and information about AMD's Threadripper platform. Bookmark away and let us know what you think about the red team's new high-end platform in the comments.
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