AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X Review 54

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X Review

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Introduction


AMD today launched its 2nd generation Ryzen Threadripper 2000 family of high-end desktop (HEDT) processors. When AMD realized in 2017 that it had a truly competitive CPU architecture on its hands with "Zen," it scampered to create client-segment variants of its enterprise EPYC multi-chip modules: the Ryzen Threadripper product family. A possible motivation for that could have been that even if AMD established a product leadership in the mainstream-desktop segment, Intel could get away with having the overall fastest client-segment processors thanks to its Core X HEDT family, which could influence sales of cheaper processors.

Some in the tech industry expected the first Threadripper series (with just 3 SKUs) to be a one-off, just as many had written off "Zen" itself as a one-trick pony. Our expectations from the 12 nm "Pinnacle Ridge" silicon were limited to better thermals being traded in for higher clocks. We were pleasantly surprised when the refined "Zen+" architecture not only met those expectations, but exceeded them with 3–5 percent IPC increments and tangible improvements made to the multi-core boosting algorithms, which translated to a restoration of competitiveness to Intel's then newly launched "Coffee Lake." It was only a matter of time until AMD would use this silicon to build newer Threadrippers.



Until now, Intel has had the upper hand in HEDT processor core counts. By tapping into its "Skylake-X" HCC (high core-count) silicon, Intel launched 12-core, 14-core, 16-core, and 18-core LGA2066 processors. The 14-thru-18 core SKUs beat the first-generation Threadrippers in performance owing to higher IPC and lower latencies thanks to the monolithic die design. AMD priced its 12-core and 16-core first-gen Threadrippers competitively to Intel's 8-core and 10-core SKUs, exceeding them on price-performance. This meant leaving the $1000-$2000 market uncontested, for which Intel had already built a use-case (prosumers who need a lot of multi-threaded performance and don't want to shell out a lot of money on workstations with 2P Xeons). And thus, we have new 24-core and 32-core Threadripper 2000WX parts from AMD.

In this review, we take a look at the 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 2950X. Much like the flagship Threadripper 1950X from last year that it succeeds, the TR 2950X achieves 16 cores by being a multi-chip module of two 8-core dies, which are 12 nm "Pinnacle Ridge" in this case. You get all of the new "Zen+" micro-architecture features and higher clock speeds. AMD is also launching this chip at an SEP of $899, which is $100 cheaper than what the 1950X launched at. Since the TR 1950X was already trading blows with Intel's Core i9-7900X and i9-7920X, the introduction of this chip at its price will only mount pressure on Intel to lower its prices.

We present four performance data sets for the Ryzen Threadripper 2950X in this review: stock, manual overclock to 4.15 GHz, Precision Boost Overdrive set to max, and PBO at max with Local Memory Access Mode enabled.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X Review: Market Segment Analysis
 PriceCores /
Threads
Base
Clock
Max.
Boost
L3
Cache
TDPArchitectureProcessSocket
Core i5-8600K$2596 / 63.6 GHz4.3 GHz9 MB95 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Ryzen 5 2600X$2296 / 123.6 GHz4.2 GHz16 MB95 WZen+12 nmAM4
Ryzen 7 2700X$3298 / 163.7 GHz4.3 GHz16 MB105 WZen+12 nmAM4
Core i7-8700K$3596 / 123.7 GHz4.7 GHz12 MB95 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i9-7900X$90010 / 203.3 GHz4.3 GHz13.75 MB140 WSkylake-X14 nmLGA 2066
Ryzen Threadripper 2950X$90016 / 323.5 GHz4.4 GHz32 MB180 WZen+12 nmTR4
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