The Threadripper 2 Launch (a.k.a AMD Flexes its Muscles)

TR 2990WX

AMD launched two CPUs today. The first is the 2990WX, a gargantuan 32-core/64-thread CPU $1800 ubermonster that will give every Intel board-member nightmares for the next ~2 years. Yes, you read that right: Thirty-two cores! Barely 2 years ago, a quad-core was the standard, recommended CPU for most people, and this 2990WX behemoth does not double or triple or even quadruple that: It octuples it! Maybe “octuples” is not a proper verb, but this is not a proper launch either.

The second CPU is the 2950X, a more modest 16-cores/32-threads $900 affair, but make no mistake: That makes it on par with Intel’s best consumer CPU, for half the price. In fact, if you took the time to read the reviews linked below, you will find that most reviewers enjoyed the 2950X more than the 2990WX.

So let us get to the nitty-gritty:

  1. The TR 2990WX has unprecedented multi-threaded performance, making a joke out of everything Intel has to offer… with a caveat. Due to its core configuration, half of the CPUs in the 2990WX are IO/memory “starved”. What does that mean? In Tom’s words, this can “drastically reduce performance in applications sensitive to bandwidth or PCIe traffic”. So if your work is very heavily threaded but bandwidth-light, you are fine. Otherwise, it is best to switch to something else. So with that warning in mind, we will be replacing the i9-7980XE with the TR 2990WX in the Monstrous tier. We will be adding compatible (and high-end!) motherboards to Monstrous, too.
  2. The TR 2950X has no drawbacks with regards to IO/memory/bandwidth. In all aspects, it is a better CPU when compared to the TR 1950X that came before it. It can easily slot in the Extremist tier, when it gets released at the end of the month. While the motherboards we have in that tier have compatible sockets, the BIOS may need an update. We will have to be careful to choose motherboards that are out-of-the-box compatible with Threadripper 2.

AMD has the 2970WX and the 2920X coming out in another month, too, so we need to keep an eye out for those!

With the launch of Threadripper 2, AMD is now competitive in all areas of consumer computing. APUs, mid-level, and high-end AMD CPUs stand toe-to-toe (or outright beat) their Intel counterparts. With rumours of the Zen 2 launch next year on 7nm, and more rumours that Intel is delaying its 10nm CPUs, we may soon find ourselves with an AMD that is not just competitive, but leading!