AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX Market Positioning
Thes chips are not released in a vacuum instead, they have competition on both the Intel and AMD sides. When you purchase a server and select a CPU, it is important to see the value of a platform versus its competitors.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX v. Intel
We know what Intel has a 28-core Intel Xeon W-3175X on the way. That will support 512GB of RAM with more memory channels. It is also going to cost a lot more than the Threadripper 2990WX’s $1800 price tag. Although we often get caught up in CPU pricing, remember this is less than 18% of the entire system’s cost, and that is before one loads application software and IT support on top of it.
The dual Intel Xeon E5-2690 V3/ V4 results may have been an interesting choice. On a personal note, before I switched to the AMD Threadripper 1950X in my personal workstation, I used a dual Intel Xeon E5-2690 V3 then V4 system. If you have an Intel Xeon E5 class workstation, either single or dual socket, the AMD Threadripper 2990WX is certainly an interesting competitor in the market.
Looking at the Xeon W and Core X-series like we did in the Lenovo ThinkStation P520 Professional Workstation Review, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX is a multi-die solution, but it is able to put up impressive price/ performance ratios simply due to its raw core count.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX v. AMD
If you are looking at AMD v. AMD, then one may naturally turn to AMD EPYC. We put the AMD EPYC 7551P results in the chart, and you can see in our reviews we have every AMD EPYC SKU represented. We do not see the AMD EPYC series and the Threadripper 2990WX as competitors. If you want large memory support, and more PCIe connectivity, you are going AMD EPYC. The EPYC 7551P costs a bit more, but on a TCO basis is a virtual wash. If you value clock speed or consumer workstation features, you will get the Threadripper 2990WX.
Perhaps the most intriguing chip is the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X 16-core part. On workstation configurators, it is often $1000 less, or about 10% of the systems cost. One loses half of the cores but retains an architecture with each NUMA node having directly attached RAM. We see the Threadripper 2950X as a real competitor to the Threadripper 2990WX even with half of the cores. It is a legitimate option for those who want the platform AMD offers but do not need the extra 16 cores.
This generation of workstation CPU wars is still a question mark for one small reason: the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX is a quad channel 2 DPC memory design. If AMD found a way to get electrical routing to make it an octo channel (like EPYC 7000 series) but 1 DPC design, with RDIMM support, the Intel Xeon W-3175X would be a DOA product. AMD’s manufacturing cost advantage and architecture mean Intel simply could not compete. Since AMD left half of the cores requiring hops to an adjacent die for RAM or PCIe access, what could have been the greatest product of a generation is simply a flagship workstation processor. Performance is great, and AMD is releasing Windows scheduler tools to properly place threads on the 32 core / 64 thread complex. That will surely make an impact, albeit one that requires an extra step.
On the flip side, if you are OK with 32 cores and 4GB RAM per core (128GB) using today’s mainstream UDIMMs, then the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX is certainly a flagship product that can support a $1700-$1800 price tag in a workstation.