A look at AMD’s new Threadripper 7000 line

Workstations have a new king and HEDT returns

AMD just took over the workstation market with the new Genoa based Threadrippers. To make things more interesting, and SemiAccurate happy, they are also reviving the high end desktop market.

Lets start out with the obvious, what is AMD launching? There are nine new CPUs split into two categories, the 8-DDR5 channel Threadripper PRO 7000 WX-Series and three 4-DDR5 channel Threadripper 7000 non-Pro X-Series chips. There is also a new chipset and two sockets which we will cover later. For now just be aware there are two distinct lines of Threadripper 7000s listed in the pictures below. All will be on sale November 21st.

AMD Threadripper Pro lineup

Threadripper HEDT lineup

The lineup of Threadripper 7000s

As you can see the core count ranges from 12 to 96 on the WX line and 24 to 64 on the X versions. All pull 350W on paper but somehow we don’t think the lower end devices will hit that number very often. If you want to know what cognitive dissonance is, when you have been covering tech for a long time and it dawns on you during a presentation that a company is possibly understating their power usage, that is it.

That brings us to the clocks with a 5.3GHz peak turbo for 12-32C devices and 5.1GHz for the 64-96C variants. Think about that, 5+GHz on all cores for a 96C device, sure base clocks ramp down within the fixed TDP but that is pretty spectacular. Did we mention it overclocks, and overclocks a lot? Details are embargoed for now but trust us when we say 5.1/5.3GHz is not the end for these chips if you want to play. Better yet to a limited extent, you can actually play with these without paying extra. Yo Intel, are you listening?

AMD Threadripper dies

The bare Threadrippers plus some with lids

That brings us to the next interesting point, the CCD count. There are 2, 4, 8, and 12CCD variants of Threadripper 7000 which means only 6 and 8 active core CCDs are used. Why is this important? Think about what that means for AMD’s yields not to mention TSMCs 5nm yield. Since each CCD has 32MB of L3 on it and some of the core counts are divisible by six, others by eight, it isn’t tough to work out which model has what count. The cache sizes reflect this as well.

Threadripper Socket Comparison

Compare and contrast the two sockets

That brings us to the sockets which are physically the same as the last generation but electrically incompatible. Don’t try this at home kiddies, unless you film it so we can mock you when you learn the hard way. The WX and X variants are also the same physical size and while the 8-channel WX will fit and even work in the 4-channel TRX50 platform, the 4-channel Threadripper X will fit in the 8-channel WRX90 platform but it won’t work. So if you want a 96C Threadripper and only want to spring for a cheaper 4-channel board, we may question your sanity but you can do it. If you want a cheaper X CPU and feel like splurging on the more expensive board, you are out of luck. That said the only reason to do this is for the niche market of those with too much money who want a device that idles a lot due to memory stalls but need more than 48/92 PCIe4/5 lanes. See above for details.

Moving on to the platform, there are obviously two, WRX90 and TRX50. The former is more or less aimed at workstations, the latter at HEDT/high end desktop users. Both have way more features than almost any user will need but there is always a use case for something more capable. For that, AMD will happily sell you an Epyc 2S system. The split between 4x and 8x DDR5 channels and lower PCIe5 lane counts, did you notice that TRX50 only supports 48 PCIe5 lanes, means the smaller boards can be much cheaper, relatively speaking. AMD says that the TRX50 boards will overlap with high end Ryzen motherboards so all good there.

Here is where we come to the one really negative thing we have to say about Threadripper, price. No not the $1499 price for the 7960X, $2499 for the 7970X, or $4,999 for the 7980X, those are, err, reasonable-ish for what they deliver, but the prices for the -WX line. AMD didn’t disclose that and would not when we asked. Once again AMD snatches defeat from the jaws of victory for no gain whatsoever, it is just dumb. Why is it so bad? For the same reason it was when Intel played this game at the Cascade Lake launch, we how can you mentally position a product without price? Are they $200 or $20,000, prices make all the difference between a great product and a joke of a PR stunt. Remember the Intel Xeon 9200? Intel claimed it was a good value but refused to admit to the $20K+ price even though SemiAccurate leaked it months before. AMD is repeating the same own goals, the product is actually good be we can’t make any claims without putting caveats on it. Just stupid.

OK back to the good stuff, performance. Rather than showing you lists of canned benchmark graphs and the like, lets just say that Threadripper 7000 basically wins at everything pretty much always. Since AMD added AVX-512 to the core, ironically at a time when Intel is destroying their carefully built tiering system and PR message for no real gain, AMD is stepping up to the plate with a 2x 256b wide (IE 2 pass) AVX-512 implementation. There are no AVX clocks or any other caveats, it just works. And all those AVX-512 optimized benchmarks that Intel used to roll out to ‘prove’ their cores were better just went up in smoke. Worse yet in the near future there is a good chance AMD can directly use them against Intel. Irony, thy name is idiotic marketing.

In summary, AMD more or less wins a every relevant workstation benchmark versus Intel. They have all the same capabilities, better I/O, equivalent or better memory bandwidth, and a core count that scales to almost twice what Intel can field, 96c vs 56c. Ok, 1.71x to be pedantic but that is still a devastating advantage to anything that needs lots of compute like, oh say every workstation app out there. Even at equivalent core counts, AMD beats Intel’s best by substantial margins. All right we give in, here is an eyestrain graph.

Threadripper benchmarks

Sorry to inflict this on you

That brings us to price again, if AMD wins but costs a multiple of what Intel does, is it a good value? It depends and here is where we will backpedal a bit. If you compare systems directly, the answer is probably not. If you add in the value gained to a likely high cost employee working on it, that may shift back to a yes. Throw in software that may be licensed by the core and cost more than the CPU by an order of magnitude and things could shift back the other way. So in short it depends and AMD’s refusal to list the MSRPs of _SOME_ Threadrippers doesn’t improve our outlook on their positioning. All this said, once everything is considered, AMD still probably wins at everything with Threadripper 7000.

Lets dive into the details now starting with memory. Threadripper supports DDR5-5200 in either four or eight channel configs but can support 2/4/6/8 channel interleaving, and yes 6-channel means you need to depopulate the DIMMs but it will work. Tip of the hat to Siena here. In case you are wondering, the HEDT parts on the TRX50 boards do support Expo memory for overclocking.

The only real memory down side is that Threadripper only supports 1DPC so max memory is capped at 2TB but more is possible if the memory makers roll out 24Gb and 32Gb dies, both are a BIOS update away if needed. Don’t worry though, when they come out and reach affordability, the 7000 line will be a distant memory. CXL.Mem can also be supported in the same way if needed, it works in Epyc which is the same silicon so if you need it and are a big enough customer, you might get it. Realistically though the same caveat as the big memory dies applies here too.

On the security and reliability front, AMD supports all of what Epyc does so the UECC retry capability is there, as are all the lower variants of ECC. More useful are the addition of AES-256-XTS encryption for added security. On top of that Threadripper supports all the SME features of Epyc with the key count increased from 509 to 1006 in this generation. Again for the pedantic in the Milan generation the math went cores (64) * possible sockets (2) * threads per core (2) * 2 minus a few for overhead to total 509. This time around the total should be 765 but it ends up at 1006 for some reason but don’t look for us to complain about more capabilities than we expected. (Note: Don’t read anything about Turin’s core count into this, that would be wrong) In any case AMD is far in the lead for platform security and Threadripper 7000 only adds to that lead.

AMD Threadripper chipset diagram

Threadripper and chipset IO diagram

As you can see from the above, Threadripper has the I/O market pretty much cornered with 128 PCIe5 lanes and if you order now, you get 8 bonus PCIe3 lanes and this handy tool for julienning carrots, shaving your knees, and correctly torquing the socket. Two of those are jokes mind you, can you guess which ones? Seriously though with the addition of the WRX90 chipset, you can make a board with enough ports to satisfy any realistic request. 10G Ethernet on board is a big bonus, SATA is probably less of a draw but it will all come down to what the system vendor decides to wire out. From the three systems SemiAccurate saw at the preview, things will be all over the map and board vendors will only add to the options. This is the long way of saying there is almost a Threadripper 7000 board that will fit your needs.

AMD Threadripper IO layout

AMD PCIe and memory diagram

Going back to the PCIe lanes we have a pretty unique layout with all the PCIe5 16x lanes being divisible down to 16 1x lanes. The only real drawback if you can call it that is the controller can only support 9 devices per 16x lane so 8*1x + 1*8x, 8*2x lanes, or other combinations from there. The most capable lanes can even repurpose 1x lanes as SATA should you need lots of slow storage. In short AMD has the raw capacity and flexibility to do just about anything needed on the PCIe front.

If you look closely at the diagram above, you will notice that the PCIe lanes come out of the socket on the north/south axis and the DDR5 lanes on the east/west sides. This shows up in the board layouts of the three workstations SemiAccurate has seen and brings us to another interesting caveat. Several vendors had 3x double wide PCIe slots with one above the socket and two below. The closest two were PCIe5 and the furthest was only PCIe4. Why? Adding more slots would have meant a truly massive system which has implications for things like fitting under a desk, cooling, and power.

Making the third slot PCIe5 would also have meant more board layers and expensive materials, that or retimers and other range extending hardware. So the tradeoff for the initial crop of systems SemiAccurate saw was a little speed on one slot for a lot of cost savings. Is it worth it on systems that will likely start in the high thousands of dollars and go way up from there? When asked, most vendors pointed out that the designs shows were only the initial offerings and they had systems that went up and down from there if needed. It is hard to disagree with targeting the vast majority of the market with the most cost effective system out of the gate but more is always a better story for the enthusiast set.

In the end, what do we have with the latest Threadrippers? The two lines, -WX and -X allow AMD to target almost all of the market with 2/4/6/8/12 DDR5 channel devices and enough to PCIe lanes to fit any market need. Not all of these things are Threadrippers mind you, just think you can go up and down from these parts if needed. The TRX50 -X line picks up from where the mainstream Ryzen lines tail off so we will soon see if the HEDT market is still alive, and we hope it is.

On the performance side, AMD just wins. If you want the fastest workstation on the market, Threadripper is the only choice. If you care about price/performance, then we can’t comment until AMD releases prices but in any case, Threadripper will probably be competitive here even against two socket Xeon-Ws. So performance, flexibility, features, and security are all there, what’s not to love?S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate