Conclusion: History is Written By The Victors

I have never used the word ‘bloodbath’ in a review before. It seems messy, violent, and a little bit gruesome. But when we look at the results from the new AMD Threadripper processors, it seems more than appropriate.

When collating the data together from our testing, I found it amusing that when we start comparing the high-end desktop processors, any part that was mightily impressive in the consumer space suddenly sits somewhere in the middle or back, holding its lunch money tightly. While the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X and the 8-core Intel i9-9900KS enjoy a lot fun in the consumer space, when Threadripper rolls up, they are decidedly outclassed in performance.

AMD has scored wins across almost all of our benchmark suite. In anything embarrassingly parallel it rules the roost by a large margin (except for our one AVX-512 benchmark). Single threaded performance trails the high-frequency mainstream parts, but it is still very close. Even in memory sensitive workloads, an issue for the previous generation Threadripper parts, the new chiplet design has pushed performance to the next level. These new Threadripper processors win on core count, on high IPC, on high frequency, and on fast memory.

Is the HEDT Market Price Sensitive?

There are two areas where AMD will be questioned upon. First is the power, and why 280 W for the TDP? Truth be told, these are some of the most efficient desktop cores we have seen; it's just that AMD has piled a lot of them into a single processor. The other question is price.

Where Intel has retreated from the $2000 market, pushing its 18-core CPU back to $979, AMD has leapfrogged into that $1999 space with the 32-core and $1399 with the 24-core. This is the sort of price competition we have desperately needed in this space, although I have seen some commentary that AMD’s pricing is too high. The same criticism was leveled at Intel for the past couple of generations as well.

Now the HEDT market is a tricky one to judge. As one might expect, overall sales numbers aren’t on the level of the standard consumer volumes. Still, Intel has reported that the workstation market has a potential $10B a year addressable market, so it is still worth pursuing. While I have no direct quotes or data, I remember being told for several generations that Intel’s best-selling HEDT processors were always the highest core count, highest performance parts that money could buy. These users wanted off-the-shelf hardware, and were willing to pay for it – they just weren’t willing to pay for enterprise features. I was told that this didn’t necessarily follow when Intel pushed for 10 cores to $1979, when 8 cores were $999, but when $1979 became 18 cores, a segment of the market pushed for it. Now that we can get better performance at $1999 with 32 cores, assuming AMD can keep stock of the hardware, it stands to reason that this market will pick up interest again.

There is the issue of the new chipset, and TRX40 motherboards. Ultimately it is a slight negative that AMD has had to change chipsets and there’s no backwards compatibility. For that restriction though, we see an effective quadrupling of CPU-to-chipset bandwidth, and we’re going to see a wide range of motherboards with different controllers and support. There seems to be a good variation, even in the initial 12 motherboards coming to the market, with the potential for some of these companies to offer something off-the-wall and different. Motherboard pricing is likely to be high, with the most expensive initial motherboard, the GIGABYTE TRX40 Aorus Extreme, to be $849. Filling it up with memory afterwards won’t be cheap, either. But this does give a wide range of variation.

One of the key messages I’ve been saying this year is that AMD wants to attack the workstation market en mass. These new Threadripper processors do just that.

The Final Word

If you had told me three years ago that AMD were going to be ruling the roost in the HEDT market with high-performance 32-core processors on a leading-edge manufacturing node, I would have told you to lay off the heavy stuff. But here we are, and AMD isn’t done yet, teasing a 64-core version for next year. This is a crazy time we live in, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

AMD Third Generation Ryzen Threadripper

Price no object, the new Threadripper processors are breathing new life into the high-end desktop market. AMD is going to have to work hard to top this one. Intel is going to have to have a shift its design strategy to compete.

Many thanks to Gavin Bonshor for running the benchmarks, and Andrei Frumusanu for the memory analysis.

Gaming: F1 2018


View All Comments

  • jmelgaard - Monday, November 25, 2019 - link

    They also somehow forgot that AMD has been virtually invisible in the desktop CPU market for the last ~10 years, yet they managed to survive and pull this incredible victory.

    But for some reason, that would be unthinkable that Intel could turn things around... o.O... Pure idiocracy...

    Besides, it doesn't matter if your an AMD or Intel fan, if you don't wan't both to be in the game your a pure moron, the status quo we have seen from Intel the past 10 years is exactly what we will see if they aren't both in the game. They are there to push each other, to the overall benefit for us, the consumers. If Intel really where to go out of business, then AMD would just begin to milk...

    It's f****** amazing how dumb some people are...

    AMD has the absolute and clear victory this time, if Intel has anything meaningful to respond with in the near future, well only time can tell...

    But for now... Lets just praise what AMD has done, cheer for the amazing launch and well earned victory after what can only have been 10 long years of hard work, and hope that Intel returns... Hopefully sooner than AMD did... Or... On the other hand it's been 10 rather cheap years computer wise for me, so... perhaps I should cheer for Intel to take 10 years for a decent knockout punch in the other direction...
  • DannyH246 - Monday, November 25, 2019 - link

    Intel will DEFINITELY return and with Jim Keller on board i'm sure in 2-3 years they will return with a vengeance. I do hope however that everyone remembers what we have been saddled with from Intel for the last 10 years...No innovation, crazy pricing, artificial market segmentation, forced new motherboard purchases every year etc etc. In short - Intel have shafted us for years and are only working like crazy now because AMD launched a rocket up their back sides. Lets hope AMD continues innovating & executing as they have been. That's not Fanboyism, its just common sense. Reply
  • lobz - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    What gap in IPC? You think intel's Coffee Lake has a higher IPC than Zen 2? Please get your facts straight before you try to criticize other people's comments. Reply
  • Der Keyser - Monday, November 25, 2019 - link

    AMD are really doing wonders with their ZEN2 architecture :-)

    But with the latest pricing of the higher end R7 and R9 and now TR I think they are making a GREAT mistake. They have decided to capitalize on having reached their target of beating Intel on performance. So prices are no longer vastly better than Intel, and we are moving into having AMD/INTEL pricing close enough not to matter to the average consumer.
    This is a very short sighted decision as AMD right now has a once in a lifetime opportunity to really kick Intel in the n***. Intel’s production capability and proces node is lagging - as is their architecture. This is the time to set pricing and performance at a level were DELL, HP, LENOVO and so on are unable to ignore or downplay the AMD option because of intel funding - because that is happening now, and will continue when AMD is getting similarly expensive.
    Ditch the lower end SKU’s and drop the prices on mid and high-end SKUs with 20 - 30% now and gain what AMD never had before: Market superiority to really establish their name as a household processor brand. Will all know Intel will retaliate within the next two years once their 10 and 7nm comes full online, and once that happens, AMD will once again battle with the “unproven and small player” moniker because they never got REALLY big - Getting rid of that moniker should be their second and REAL goal of this ZEN2 era. This short term money grab with the new pricing is what will keep AMD in the shadows of Intel going forward.
  • liquid_c - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    This! So much this! I have no brand loyalty but somehow, people either chose to forget all of AMD’s mishaps (fake turbo boosts, pricing during their Athlon days, declaration of MB compatibility with future CPU gens but when time comes, they point fingers at MB vendors, etc.) Reply
  • liquid_c - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    ...or they hate Intel that much (no edit button..) Reply
  • Korguz - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    liquid_c looks like you may be used to the way intel does things, have you seen this article :
    or this one :
    and what about intels TDP ratings on their cpus ?? people harped and criticized amd for the power their cpus used before zen, but, yet, when intel does the same... it seems to be ok ??

    or, that just hate amd that much ....
  • peevee - Monday, November 25, 2019 - link

    Too bad the test actually relevant to the class of CPUs, namely compilation, is gone.

    Also looks like some results are old, before OS and BIOS patches for security (Intel) and performance (AMD).
  • tony p - Monday, November 25, 2019 - link

    does anyone know can I swap CPU heatsink between Socket TR4 and TR3 Reply
  • Slash3 - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    X399 and TRX40 boards use the same physical socket - heatsinks are compatible with all three generations of Threadripper. Reply

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