AMD's Threadripper Set To Undercut Intel's Skylake-X CPUs

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅14.07.2017 03:37:18

Today AMD officially takes the wraps off the pricing for their launch models of the Threadripper High End Desktop CPU series, models which look set to be available in early August. Designed according to the new Zen microarchitecture, and featuring two CPU dies on one PCB substrate, they're CPUs which will drastically increase the sheer number of cores available to developers and content creators at the <$1000 price point.

First up, naturally, is the Threadripper flagship. Officially to be known as the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, it's a 16-core, 32-thread behemoth of a chip. As we mentioned the chip incorporates two fully enabled 8-core Ryzen dies similar to those found on the Ryzen 7 1800X, and these dies communicate via AMD's Infinity Fabric.

AMD states that the 1950X operates at 3.4GHz base and 4.0GHz boost, but in line with mainstream Ryzen we expect that the algorithm determining when the chip boosts to a certain frequency will be touch more complex than that.

The second chip which AMD will be launching is the Ryzen Threadripper 1920X. A very similar chip physically, the CPU is comprised of two Ryzen dies each with two 4-core Core Complex's (AKA CCX); however one core per CCX has been disabled. As a result, the 1920X is a 12-core, 24-thread part, still a handy leg up over the 10-core i9-7900X.

Once again, the 1920X has a pretty healthy core frequency - in this instance 3.5GHz base and 4.0GHz boost. Threadripper CPUs utilise the new Socket TR4 specification, which in turn will required updated mounting mechanisms or entirely new solutions from CPU cooling manufacturers.

Both of these Threadripper designs feature 64 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes from the CPU, rather than segment availability as is the case on Intel's Core X CPUs. Threadripper also offers more lanes - 64 rather than up to 44 - although the comparison isn't quite that straightforward due to lane allocation.

Furthermore, quad-channel DDR4 memory support is no longer the sole province of Intel's HEDT. Once again however AMD's implementation is novel: two memory channels are supported per die, and so whilst all 16 cores have access to all system memory, one core may need to route through the alternate CPU die for specific data. This may result in reduced bandwidth and increased latency, but we'll have to wait and see just how impactful that is.

Pricing and Availability

Ryzen Threadripper On shelves early August

Ryzen Threadripper 1950X: 16 Cores, 32 Threads, 3.4/4.0 GHz, $999 (est. 925 inc. V.A.T.)*
Ryzen Threadripper 1920X: 12 Cores, 24 Threads, 3.5/4.0 GHz, $799 (est. 740 inc. V.A.T.)*

Interestingly, and presupposing this is the extent of the launch lineup, relative to Intel's Core X platform the minimum cost of entry into AMD's Threadripper ecosystem is high. There's no i7-7800X equivalent priced below $500, and that serves to strike a clear contrast between mainstream Ryzen with 8-core CPUs up to $450. Still, there is perhaps scope for a cheaper Threadripper SKU in the future.

Performance And Platform Price - Two Great Unknowns

If we were to just compare the number of cores you get from Threadripper with Intel's Core X platform, you would be forgiven for thinking that AMD's offering is a slam-dunk win. It's not quite that simple though.

For starters, the two architectures are just not that similar, and as we've seen with Ryzen your experience will greatly depend on the workload being thrown at each system. Ryzen thrived in multi-threaded workloads compared to Kaby Lake and Broadwell-E, but less well in gaming. Furthermore, Broadwell-E is no longer the benchmark for performance; AMD's 1950X will have to go head-to-head with the similarly priced 10-core i9 7900X, and besting it will be no mean feat.

Additionally, thus far we've heard nothing regarding the motherboard cost for X399, another critical factor when assessing the overall cost-effectiveness of the platform.

So, that's a very quick look at Ryzen Threadripper's launch SKUs. Expected to see them on shelves early next month, and hopefully reviewers will have access to CPUs ahead of time.

*UK Pricing is an estimated value based on current exchange rates as of this article's publication, and not official

Related Stories

Recent Stories