As part of the AMD fall workstation line up the company is making a number of announcements. We are focusing on two. The first is the AMD Ryzen 9 16-core launch. The Second is the 3rd generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper launch. AMD has a few more announcements, but we wanted to focus on those two that are most relevant to our readers.
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Launch
After months of waiting, we finally see the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X gets a 2019-11-25 release date. AMD does not quite match the 5.0GHz speeds that Intel is hitting on some of its parts, but it is also delivering huge caches and 16 cores and 32 threads to the market. As we have seen with some of the EPYC chips, big caches can be very beneficial.
Here is a new feature that AMD is announcing with the new chips called eco-mode. With eco mode, you can lower TDP from 105W to 65W and take a performance hit. Still, that also means that AMD is producing a 16 core and 32 thread chip with PCIe Gen4 at 65W levels which we think our readers may be interested in. If you have a dual Intel Xeon E5-2670 V1 system still, this should translate into more performance at a lower operating cost.
On the subject of cost, the AMD slide that shows their stack is a bit misleading. The information around the New Intel Core i9 Platform Improvements and Dramatically Lower Costs is readily available. We know that Intel will replace the $1,199 Core i9-9920X 12-core CPU with a 18-core $979 Core i9-10980XE.
At $749, the big question is how many PCIe devices does one have, and how much RAM is required. If one needs more lanes for more devices, the Intel LGA2066 platform is a good choice. If one needs fewer PCIe Gen4 lanes, AMD may be better. One can also get the Core i9-10940X at $784 for 14 cores and still get a bigger platform.
3rd Gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper Details
Perhaps the star of the show for AMD is its new Threadrippers. With the lower-end socket part moving up to 16 cores, or the same amount of cores at the original Threadripper CPUs, the new parts have even more. There is an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X at $1999 with 32 cores and 64 threads that also sports 144MB of cache. At 24 cores the Threadripper 3960X comes in at $1399. There is a 4MB cache difference. AMD did not specify, but that works out to 0.5MB per core so we think AMD is combining L2 and L3 cache here which causes that delta.
A major point here is that your old X399 platforms are not going to be compatible with the new chips. The new AMD TRX40 platform using sTRX4 is required to utilize the new chips and that has a great impact.
AMD now has 48x PCIe Gen4 lanes plus 8x to the chipset. The chipset with 8x PCIe Gen4 lanes is a new innovation as it provides more backhaul bandwidth. AMD says that doubling the link width to x8 and doubling the data rate with Gen4 means that it has 4x the chipset to CPU bandwidth of the previous version. Platform designers get the ability to pick how eight PCIe Gen4/ SATA high-speed I/O lanes are provisioned as well. We hope most opt to use them as PCIe Gen4 or NVMe lanes instead of as SATA.
Threadripper is still limited to quad-channel memory but this is now DDR4-3200. With the new I/O die design, we should see a much better NUMA configuration than we did with the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX. STH asked if this was an EPYC 7002 series derived I/O die but we were told that it is a distinct I/O die but are awaiting a follow-up.
AMD said to expect 280W TDP being hit for these parts, or the same as the water-cooling only AMD EPYC 7H12 64-core HPC chip. One gets more cores than the Intel Xeon W-3275 and more PCIe bandwidth but loses memory channels with Threadripper.
As a piece of pure speculation here, AMD could, in theory, produce 48-core and 64-core workstation parts if it has the EPYC style packaging and 280W support. Then again, AMD may not have the die supply to offer that kind of part.
Intel has done a great job of offering a competitive response with the new LGA2066 Core i9 models. The fact that AMD is pushing ahead to higher price points means that the company is starting to extract more premiums for features like more cores and PCIe Gen4 support.
AMD is heavily relying upon Cinebench R20 in their press decks. That is architecturally something that runs very well on AMD to the point that STH set a World Record over the summer using AMD chips as a fun exercise. We are omitting those results here since they tell an overly optimistic story for AMD performance.
The fall CPU launch cycle is showing increased competition which is good to spur innovation in the industry.