The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX is a massive workstation processor by most metrics. We covered the second-generation launch and ever since it has been one of the most intriguing chips on the market. Let us be clear, this is a case where not just the performance should be measured, but also the cachet of these chips. At this end of the workstation spectrum, processors need to deliver excellent performance. Buyers of these systems are often professional creative organizations that need their employees to have excellent performance, but they need something more. They use high-end hardware as either a lure or an employee retention mechanism. In 2018, giving an employee the highest core count (32) single socket workstation on the market makes a strong statement that a company is investing in that employee to give them the best technology.
Key stats for theAMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX: 32 cores / 64 threads with 64MB L3 cache. Base clock is 3.0GHz while the Turbo clock is 4.2GHz. Clocks are unlocked, so if you are willing to pay the power, there is more room to go. The CPU features a 250W TDP. This is a $1799 price point which is fairly low on the overall spectrum of CPUs these days. Here is the AMD page with the feature set.
Here is what the lscpu output looks like for the chips:
We had the opportunity to test the AMD Threadripper 2990WX in a BOXX APEX T3 system. We are going to have a review of the system soon, but it is the right kind of platform for this test as it is the kind of platform an employer will buy to put on the desk of their best creative professionals.
- System: BOXX APEX T3
- CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX
- RAM: 128GB (8x 16GB Micron DDR4-2666)
- NVMe SSDs: Samsung 970 Pro 512GB and 1TB
- SATA SSD: Intel DC S3700 400GB for Ubuntu OS installation per STH standard
- GPU: AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200
- Cooling: Enermax LIQTECH TR4 Water Cooling
We are going to discuss this platform more in or formal review of the platform. It is exceedingly exciting. BOXX managed to fit 32 cores, eight DIMMs, a big GPU, and water cooling in a relatively compact package. By assuming water cooling from the start, the company moved the power supply to above the CPU socket making the system considerably more compact. Instead of a massive workstation, this is something that can fit under or on an office desk.
While this is not the most conventional internal layout, BOXX’s design team did a great job maximizing functionality while minimizing footprint with the APEXX T3 series. We are going to have our full BOXX APEXX T3 series review, including power consumption of this configuration soon.
As configured, this is a $10,000 list price system which thoroughly puts it in the higher-end of workstations, and there is plenty of room to go higher with more GPUs or storage.
A Quick Note on the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX Architecture
The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX is something different in the world of professional workstation processors for more than just core count. Here the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX utilizes four die, like on AMD EPYC. Instead of each of the four NUMA nodes attaching to its own memory, two of the 8-core NUMA nodes are not directly attached to RAM or PCIe. They are compute chips enabled via Infinity Fabric.
We looked at this type of configuration in our AMD EPYC Naples Memory Population Performance Impact piece. Here is what the actual topology of our test system was with a single NVMe SSD attached:
As you can see, NUMA nodes 0 and 2 both have RAM and PCIe devices attached. NUMA nodes 1 and 3 are simply compute nodes. This is not something we would expect to scale to the next generation. Instead, we see this as the way AMD was able to bring this part to market. In our benchmarks we are going to show a few cases where even though the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX has great performance, this topology meant it was not as good as it could have been.
Beyond the new topology, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX also gets Zen+ which is the improved version of AMD’s Zen microarchitecture. That helps with some of the on chip latency, and yields an IPC improvement over current generations. Of course, this pales in comparison to the fact that AMD is delivering 50% more cores than the previous generation Threadripper 1950X flagship.
Next, we are going to get into the performance of the system.