Update: AMD Announces Threadripper 3000 CPUs
Threadripper 3000 CPUs will be available to purchase on 25th November 2019. AMD has announced some details regarding these new processors and I thought it warranted an update here.
Introducing AMD Threadripper 3960X and 3970X CPUs
We’ve all been expecting great things from AMD’s HEDT lineup after seeing the significant upgrade that Zen 2 processors (Ryzen 3000) delivered to mainstream consumers. In addition to reducing latency and improving the memory controller, AMD’s latest offerings seemed to consistently outperform Intel in a key, often ignored, metric — Perf/W. For those of us who have huge render workloads, this is quite significant. Regular 10-hour renders can add up quickly, and are by no means cheap.
Here’s the official slide from AMD that announces the new products:
I have to say, the naming scheme makes it seem like there’s more than enough space for two additional products in the stack (3980X & 3990X?). Up to 64 cores, maybe? Well, just a guess. AMD might be holding off to watch for Intel’s reaction to these products.
Even with the price drop, Intel’s announced Core i9 10980XE has a ‘measly’ 18 cores and 36 threads compared to the 24 cores and 48 threads on the lowest-end Threadripper CPU, now pairing that with lower clock speeds, higher latency (assuming Threadripper delivers close to Ryzen 3000-level latency) — it’s not that far fetched a possibility to expect an Intel response.
These processors have a base clock of 3.7 and 3.8 GHz, far ahead of their much lower core count Intel counterparts. Barring any crippling latency issues (the central I/O die should theoretically sort out last-gen latency problems), benchmarks should line up accordingly.
Still waiting on the verdict to be out, so please do wait for benchmarks before you pull the trigger!
Although the new Threadripper processors are an exciting proposition for content creators on their own, the TRX40 platform makes it all the more exciting. Unfortunately, the older X399 motherboards DO NOT support the new Threadripper 3000 processors.
Threadripper CPUs come with 64 CPU lanes, i.e. graphics can run in full x16/x16/x16 mode. Now, since they’re PCIe 4.0 lanes, bandwidth is much higher per lane compared to older PCIe 3.0 lanes. It’ll be interesting to see how motherboard manufacturers tackle this and whether we’d get more use out of this extra bandwidth. Either way, it’ll offer a great upgrade path when PCIe 4.0 graphics cards become the norm (I’m guessing 2020 is the year).
Of course, exact platform details, flexibility, and limitations will only get clearer once we start seeing more TRX40 motherboards. Then there’s still the possibility of a more powerful platform and/or CPU(s) in the works.
Most of the Threadripper specifications are in line with what we expected; but, it’s nice to see our expectations translate to reality.
- High core counts – check
- Great single threaded performance (clocks and IPC) for a snappy viewport experience (not confirmed) – looks like a check
- Competitive pricing – check
- A great HEDT platform overall that allows for a powerful, no-holds-barred system – check.
Ryzen 9 3950X: 16 Cores – A worthy choice?
In addition to the Threadripper 3960X and 3970X, AMD also finally announced the Ryzen 9 3950X. It comes with great clock speeds and excellent IPC that should carry over from the rest of the Ryzen 3000 CPUs.
If you’re not limited by the X570 platform in any way, the 3950X is an excellent product for those who want to focus on CPU-based rendering tasks as well as workloads that use at the most 2-3 GPUs. If your workloads CAN use additional GPU power in the future, it won’t give you much of an upgrade path unfortunately.
The only beef I have with AMD’s most recent products is that the entry point (financially) is pretty high. I’d have appreciated a 16-core Threadripper that allowed the use of the TRX40 platform and came with an awesome upgrade path with 24 and 32 cores CPUs down the line. As of now, someone with a CPU budget of $700-1000 is stuck in no-man’s land. Either go top tier Ryzen 9 3950X and lose a lot of HEDT platform benefits or spend much more to get to the Threadripper 3960X. Not cool at all.
The huge gulf in price could indicate AMD leaving ample leeway for a price adjustment, in case Intel does respond to these launches. Similar to the launch of the RX 5700 and RX 5700XT GPUs.
Keep an eye out for a comprehensive post about Threadripper 3000 CPUs as well as the best motherboards and RAM you can pair with them closer to their launch date: 25th November 2019.
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In the wake of AMD’s 3rd Generation Ryzen processor success, the spotlight is now squarely on Threadripper 3000. Although AMD has been unnaturally cagey regarding Threadripper, details have started leaking out.
Gamers Nexus managed to unearth a particularly juicy bit of info regarding the new Threadripper 3000-series platforms. Yes, that’s plural – sTRX4 and sWRX8.
Threadripper vs. Ryzen (TR4 vs. AM4): Do You Need HEDT?
The launch of the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X processor does complicate things for those who are considering workstation/HEDT builds. Even though Ryzen’s raw processing performance is undoubtedly an attractive proposition, AMD’s TR4 HEDT platform still has its place.
Memory Channels and PCI-E Lanes Explained
Threadripper launched with plenty of cores and a robust HEDT platform that blew away the competition. So, what did it offer that the Ryzen (AM4) platform didn’t?
Here are the two most differentiating TR4 platform features:
- Quad-channel (4-channel) memory support (vs. dual-channel on AM4)
- 66 PCI-E 3.0 lanes (vs. 28 lanes on AM4)
As most users don’t need these features, they’re better off sticking to AMD’s Ryzen platform (AM4). However, workstations that must handle complex workloads will eventually find themselves strapped for power when going with a Ryzen system.
Quad-channel memory allows memory access across 4 channels, simultaneously, making it invaluable for memory-intensive workloads.
Here’s a look at how bandwidth scales with memory channels:
Please note that you’ll only see an improvement in performance when the RAM used by any application exceeds the bandwidth of dual-channel memory. As if that wasn’t limiting enough, said application should be optimized to make use of this additional bandwidth as well.
Make sure you check for benchmarks before you settle on a platform for the sole purpose of quad-channel memory.
Similarly, only certain multi-GPU setups benefit from additional PCI-E lanes. Since the AM4 platform has fewer PCI-E lanes, running multi-GPU setups require running each GPU at x8 instead of x16. Although not many graphics cards other than the RTX 2080 Ti or the Titan RTX can completely saturate an x8 PCI-E 3.0 lane, installing additional GPUs does become a limitation.
For anyone considering a system built around 3 or more powerful GPUs, I’d recommend a Threadripper over a Ryzen. However, if your workloads can fit into your video memory, then even a 3-GPU setup is feasible on Ryzen.
Next-Gen Threadripper 3000: What Do We Know?
Threadripper is the ideal choice for those not needing the power of a full-scale server build as well as those who find the capabilities of the Ryzen platform too limiting.
But there’s a slight hiccup. The newest-generation Threadripper processors haven’t even been announced yet. So, you’d have to settle for the performance of 2nd Generation Zen parts.
Since viewport performance generally relies on single-core performance, Threadripper CPUs weren’t a clear-cut choice that I wish they could be. You can find the viewport performance for popular processors on our Cinema 4D Viewport Benchmarks page.
At the moment, those who needed the astounding render performance of Threadripper had no choice but to bifurcate their builds into a primary workstation build, focusing on single-core performance, and a rendering build that focused on multi-threaded performance.
If 3rd Generation Ryzen was any indication, the newest Threadripper CPUs look promising at the very least. An IPC uplift of this scale, combined with the capabilities of AMD’s HEDT platform, makes waiting for these new processors worth it. This could very well mean that we’d finally get snappy viewport performance and blistering render performance in one neat package, at a reasonable price for the very first time!
Now that we’re starting to get details of the new Threadripper platform, it’ll be easier to figure out whether waiting is the way to go.
Threadripper 3000 Processor Release Dates
Here’s what we know for sure (regarding release dates): AMD will announce the new 3rd Generation Threadripper CPUs before this year (2019) ends. An official slide lists them as one of the last products to be launched in 2019.
The wording AMD officials have used in recent interviews indicates that these processors will only be announced this year, but won’t be available to purchase until early next year. However, this is just conjecture, and I can’t be sure.
Since we’re speculating anyway, here’s another one. AMD has launched products at the 7th of the past few months. Their marketing team seems to love that date – allowing them to stress 7nm technology with every release.
The next launch (7th October) will most likely be the monstrous Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core CPU. I think we’ll see a Threadripper 3000 announcement by the end of November at the latest.
Update: Looks like AMD decided to club both releases (Threadripper 3000 and the Ryzen 9 3950X). The products were announced on 7th November and will be available to purchase on 25th November.
Threadripper 3000: Better in Every Way?
Yes. I have absolutely no doubt that the single-core performance of these chips will match the other Zen 2 products (Ryzen 3000) from an IPC standpoint.
Of course, they might be clocked lower rather than higher or equal to them, to account for additional cores. A quick comparison between 2nd Generation Ryzen and 2nd Generation Threadripper CPUs shows that the clock difference won’t be too vast, if any does exist.
Threadripper 3000 Platform Leaks: sTRX4 and sWRX8
Instead of sticking to a single HEDT platform, AMD has decided to go with two platform options this time around. While one is like the present TR4 platform, the other takes it a step further.
Here’s a quick look at the platform details:
Since the sTRX4 and the present sTR4 platform don’t seem to be radically different, we do hope that AMD makes the new Threadripper CPUs backward compatible with older X399 (TR4) motherboards. However, the workstation platform offers a lot more in comparison.
Here are a few key features of the sWRX8 platform:
- 8-channel DDR4, ECC Memory Support – Doubling the quad-channel capabilities of TR4.
- Support for UDIMM, RDIMM, LRDIMM – Certain workloads will need access to Registered (RDIMMs) or Load Reduced (LRDIMMs).
- OC Support Disabled – Since workstation tasks require stability over all else, the sWRX8 doesn’t support overclocking.
- 96-128 PCI-E Lanes – Although I’m not sure why this variation exists (probably has to do with individual Threadripper SKUs), the sWRX8 comes with over 50% additional lanes over TR4 at the very least.
The Verdict: Should You Wait for Threadripper 3000?
Here’s the short answer – absolutely! If you can.
I understand, though. Many of us need our workstation builds right away, and waiting isn’t an option. In that case, there’s nothing you can do but work with the options we have now.
If you do need access to Threadripper platform features like additional PCI-E lanes, higher core counts, or extra memory bandwidth, we still recommend bifurcating your builds.
One build will handle your viewport – making it your primary workstation PC. You could build this around a 3rd Generation Ryzen processor or a 9th Generation Intel processor.
The second build will act as your render node. Build it around the Threadripper platform and make full use of its features.
Another option is going with an Intel HEDT build. However, its X299 chipset is pretty limiting and offers fewer PCI-E lanes (44), no ECC memory support, and comes at an insane cost, compared to AMD’s HEDT platform. But that’s another topic (rant) for another day.
For help with picking out a CPU, use our Intel vs. Ryzen 2019 guide. If you do decide to go with Ryzen, here’s a guide to picking RAM as well as a guide to choosing a motherboard for Ryzen 3000 processors.
Unfortunately, until Threadripper 3000 comes along, these are the only options we have.
Need advice regarding your build? Leave a comment below with some details, and I’ll do my best to help out!