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
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  • mazz7 - Monday, November 25, 2019 - link

    I really thought that Anandtech viewers are smarter than others, but then i see the comments, I am really wrong about that ;p Reply
  • martixy - Monday, November 25, 2019 - link

    The amount of happy this makes me...
    Also, I'm glad to see y-cruncher in the test suite. It's been my goto power virus/perf benchmark since around the 0.5 versions.
    Reply
  • boltcranck - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    World of Tanks enCore is outdated, you should benchmark with the WoT enCoreRT Reply
  • wolfesteinabhi - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    there us a cositant typo at several places .... 3960X is typed as 3950X Reply
  • Torrijos - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    It would be interesting to present all the benchmarks in 2 graphs... The raw results, and then Bench/$.

    In order to have an idea of the financial benefits.
    Reply
  • CraigIsSatoshiBsvIsBitcoin - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    Looking forward to picking up a 64 core CPU for $200 in a couple of years.. Reply
  • peevee - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    Don't hold you breath. Well, maybe 64 in-order RISC cores. Not the same at all. Reply
  • liquid_c - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    Gotta love how many people praise AMD and sh*t on Intel for this but just as many seem to forget that when AMD was in Intel’s place, they overcharged *way* more than Intel did / does. As a matter of fact, the 32c/64t gen3 TR costs 200$ more than last gen’s similar offering. The second AMD felt they caught a gust of wind, they slowly started inflating prices.
    I’m all for competition and i would love it if both Intel and AMD had some sort of control over final pricing (in my country, the 3900x costs ~700$...) but i have this distinct feeling that if things continue at this pace, AMD will become Intel 2.0, pricing and milking wise.
    Bottom line - neither of the two are truly consumer friendly but memories fade and time tells its story at a slow pace.
    Reply
  • M O B - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    AMD isn't in Intel's place, and the last time there were (2003), they didn't overcharge.

    As for selling a 32-core CPU for $2000 on a brand new process node that also offers ECC, PCIe 4.0, and is 100W under the closest competitor--that isn't a position Intel has been in before. Even in 2012 Intel wasn't destroying the competition so utterly in single-core, multi-core, node, and feature-set at virtually ever price point.

    What Intel will sell you is a 3 year old process node for $2000 like they did for the last 2 years. Rest assured that if Intel was in AMD's shoes right now that 32-core would be $3,000 and not have ECC support.

    Plus, AMD has a $750 16-core that is plenty for the enthusiast market. This is truly a workstations CPU.
    Reply
  • Xyler94 - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    And Intel gets a pass on the 28 core overclocked Xeon that is priced at almost 4K?

    Listen, everyone wants to pay nothing for their products. But this chip isn't exactly cheap, and AMD is giving a heck of a deal on a processor Intel can't hope to make with their current processes. Remember that AMD's 64 core behemoth of a CPU only costs 7k, while Intel charges 10K for... 28 cores.
    Reply

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