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AMD Announces 2nd Generation Ryzen Threadripper 2000, up to 32 Cores/64 Threads!

AMD announced its second-generation Ryzen Threadripper high-end desktop (HEDT) processor series, succeeding its lean and successful first-generation that disrupted much of Intel's Core X HEDT series, forcing Intel to open up new high-core-count (HCC) market segments beyond its traditional $1000 price-point. AMD's 16-core $999 1950X proved competitive with even Intel's 12-core and 14-core SKUs priced well above the $1200-mark; and now AMD looks to beat Intel at its game, with the introduction of new 24-core and 32-core SKUs at prices that are sure to spell trouble for Intel's Core X HCC lineup. The lineup is partially open to pre-orders, with two SKUs launching within August (including the 32-core one), and two others in October.

At the heart of AMD's second-generation Ryzen Threadripper is the new 12 nm "Pinnacle Ridge" die, which made its debut with the 2nd Generation Ryzen AM4 family. This die proved to introduce 3-5 percent IPC improvements in single-threaded tasks, and multi-threaded improvements with an improved Precision Boost II algorithm, which boosted frequencies of each of 8 cores on-die. The Threadripper is still a multi-chip module, with 2 to 4 of these dies, depending on the SKU. There are four of these - the 12-core/24-thread Threadripper 2920X, the 16-core/32-thread Threadripper 2950X; the 24-core/48-thread Threadripper 2970WX, and the flagship 32-core/64-thread Threadripper 2990WX.

Prices of First-gen AMD Threadrippers Drop Like a Rock

Intel's strategy against AMD's unexpected doubling in core-counts of its Ryzen Threadripper HEDT processors has been that of a headless chicken in a room painted Vantablack. It announced a 28-core processor that would require you to buy a new motherboard; and is frantically working on a 22-core processor for the existing LGA2066 platform. It's looking like AMD isn't in a mood to walk into Intel's core-count trap, and could hit Intel where it hurts the most - pricing. The top-dog 32-core part has already reared its head on German web-stores, seeking a little over 1,500€, just 500€ more than the price its previous-generation 16-core flagship, the Threadripper 1950X launched at. At 1,500€-ish, AMD could end up disrupting Intel's entire >10-core lineup that's priced between $1199 to $1999, currently occupied by 12-core, 14-core, 16-core, and 18-core SKUs.

AMD may not spare Intel's sub-$1000 Core X lineup, either. Prices of first-generation Ryzen Threadripper processors are seeing a dramatic drop, with the flagship Threadripper 1950X being priced under 650€. Prices of the 12-core Threadripper 1920X have slipped to just under 550€. The Core i9-7900X, meanwhile, continues to command a touch over 880€. The drop in prices of first-gen Threadrippers is likely retailers trying to clear out inventories to make room for 2nd generation Threadrippers. It could also be a prelude to AMD announcing more affordable 12-core and 16-core Threadrippers based on the 2nd generation "Zen+" architecture.

Intel's 28-core HEDT Processor a Panic Reaction to 32-core Threadripper

At Computex 2018, we witnessed two major HEDT (high-end desktop) processor announcements. Intel unveiled a client-segment implementation of its "Skylake XCC" (extreme core count) silicon, which requires a new motherboard, while AMD announced a doubling in core-counts of its Ryzen Threadripper family, with the introduction of new 24-core and 32-core models, which are multi-chip modules of its new 12 nm "Zen+" die, and compatible with existing X399 chipset motherboards. With frantic increases in core counts, the practicality of these chips to even the most hardcore enthusiast or productivity professional diminishes. The Computex 2018 demos reek of a pissing-contest between the x86 processor giants, with AMD having an upper hand.

The HEDT segment is intended to occupy the space between client desktops and serious scalar workstations. Intel is frantically putting together a new HEDT platform positioned above its current LGA2066 (X299) platform, built around its Purley enterprise platform, and a variant of the LGA3647 socket (this chip + your X299 motherboard is no bueno). This socket is needed to wire out the 28-core Skylake XCC (extreme core count) silicon, which has a six-channel DDR4 memory interface. The company put up a live demo at the teaser of this unnamed processor, where it was running at 5.00 GHz, which led many to believe that the processor runs at that speed out of the box, at least at its maximum Turbo Boost state, if not nominal clock. Intel admitted to "Tom's Hardware," that it "forgot" to mention to the crowds that the chip was overclocked.

Intel Announces Availability of Core i9-7980XE and Core i9-7960X

Intel expanded the upper end of its Core X "Skylake-X" HEDT processor family, with the introduction of the Core i9-7980XE 18-core flagship processor, and the i9-7960X 16-core processor. Designed to give pro-sumers and PC enthusiasts extreme mega-tasking performance, the i9-7980XE features all components physically present on the 14 nm "Skylake-X" silicon, featuring 18 cores, with HyperThreading enabling 36 threads; 1 MB of dedicated L2 cache per core, 24.75 MB of shared L3 cache, and rather restrained clock speeds of 2.60 GHz, with Turbo Boost speeds of 4.20 GHz, and Turbo Boost Max 3.0 frequency of 4.40 GHz.

Despite its gargantuan core-count, the TDP of this chip is rated at 165W, lower than the 180W rated for competing Ryzen Threadripper processors. The other high-end processor launched by Intel is the Core i9-7960X. This 16-core/32-thread chip features clock speeds of 2.80 GHz, with 4.20 GHz Turbo Boost, and 4.40 GHz Turbo Boost Max 3.0. It features 22 MB of shared L3 cache, and 1 MB of dedicated L2 cache per core. The Core i9-7980XE is priced at USD $1,999 in the retail channel; while the Core i9-7960X goes for $1,699.

ASUS Intros ROG Strix X299-XE Gaming Motherboard

ASUS today rolled out its latest socket LGA2066 motherboard under its Republic of Gamers (ROG) Strix brand, the ROG Strix X299-XE, hinting at "readiness" for 18-core i9-7980XE processors, which Intel plans to launch before the end of this year. This board is 99.999% identical to the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming, except for one difference that should make it to the "Spot the Difference" puzzle of your favorite tabloid - the VRM heatsink.

ASUS has given the X299-XE Gaming a slightly heavier CPU VRM heatsink, and has rigorously tested the VRM to not run into thermal throttling issues, especially when powering high core-count Core i9 processors. The Core X socket LGA2066 platform has already been criticized by professional overclockers as being "a VRM disaster." As we mentioned earlier, the Strix X299-XE is otherwise identical to the Strix X299-E, and it would be disappointing if ASUS attaches a premium for a few extra grams of aluminium and quality-control that should have been done for the Strix X299-E in the first place.

Intel's 18-core Core i9-7980XE Benchmarks Surface

A user on Coolenjoy has apparently gotten his hands on Intel's upcoming i9-7980XE silicon, putting it through its paces on Cinebench and a number of other benchmarks. The 18-core, 36-thread Core i9-7980XE is set to be Intel's most advanced HEDT processor of all time by a wide margin - both in number of cores and pricing. It seems that even in the face of a competitive AMD, that puts value towards core counts with its $999 Threadripper 1950X 16-core, 32-thread CPU, Intel still sees it fit to charge an arm, a leg, and both of your kidneys for a 2-core advantage. Intel's XE processors have become more synonymous of eXtremely Expensive and less about being eXtreme Edition over the years, and the i9-7980XE, with its $1999 price-tag, does nothing to alleviate the issue. This is a halo product, though - the most advanced HEDT processor in the world. And with it being as niche a product as it is, it actually makes some kind of sense for it to be so expensive - an immoral, "where has the world gone" kind of sense, but still, some measure of it.
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