AMD 3rd Gen Threadripper Looks AMAZING! 3970X & 3960X Preview
After months of false rumors and missed launch dates, it’s almost time for AMD’s Ryzen third generation ThreadRipper. Now AMD has allowed us to share some information and we are calling them the 4P’s: Processors, Prices, Performance, and Platform. However, that’s not all, AMD is finally ready to launch their Ryzen 9 3950X. We first saw it debut at Computex, but it was delayed due to production limitations on their 7nm manufacturing process. Honestly, there’s a lot to cover in this video, and I also want to be very honest that some of this news might be a little bit disappointing.
Let’s start with what you all been waiting for and that is third generation Ryzen threadRipper. I won’t keep you waiting any longer, but before I reveal all the information I do want to mention something I said I when ThreadRipper 2 and third generation Ryzen was announced. AMD is in a league of their own with this platform, Intel can’t get anywhere close to this level of performance per dollar. And it will even get worse once third generation Ryzen threadRipper officially launches on November 25th, because these new CPUs will be adding PCI 4.0 and faster speeds. However, there is one major downside, these are some expensive CPUs. The 3970X will go for a cool $2,000 USD, and the 3960X will retail for $1,400 USD. That makes them $200 and a $100 more expensive than the 2990WX and 2970WX. Maybe the price hike is worth it though, let’s see what that means from a spec perspective.
We are seeing a price increase for the same number of course, but taking a look at these specs it’s just crazy. I mean it’s amazing to see what AMD has been able to accomplish with this platform. First of all, the combined cache has been increased by a huge amount to 144MB and 140MB from 80MB, and that’s super important because more data can be stored close to the processing cores and that should dramatically increase performance by a huge margin. All of that has been backed up by higher base frequencies, boost clocks do get a bit of love to. Now that does mean TDP has increased to 280W, but expect a big performance increase too. Another big improvement is the move to PCI express 4.0 and a general increase in the number of available lanes. Some of those need to be shared with other devices, but I’ll get to that a bit later.
Oh, and by the way, AMD isn’t planning on discontinuing second generation Ryzen ThreadRipper processors anytime soon. All right, so here comes the bad news. While first generation, second generation, and third generation Ryzen processors and their AM4 motherboards were all cross-compatible, I can’t say the same thing with third generation Ryzen ThreadRipper. They will actually be using a new sTR4X socket and they will require a new generation of motherboards based on the TRX40 platform. That means absolutely no compatibility with first or second generation ThreadRipper CPUs or motherboards. Now before everyone’s starts yelling at their screen, there’s a good reason why AMD decided to go with a fresh platform. First and foremost, this will give them the ability to expand to even more powerful CPUs with expanded core counts. Also, third generation ThreadRipper’s communication to the chipset is handled by eight PCI 4.0 channels. That’s more than four times what current first gen or second gen motherboards can support. I mean even this flagship ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme motherboard can’t handle that. Unfortunately, we are hearing that the new TRX40 motherboards are going to hit new pricing levels because of how complicated they are to manufacturer due to the insane memory bandwidth that they pack. There is one small bit of good news though, since the heatsink mounting is the same between TR4 and TR4X existing coolers will be compatible, but only if they support the 250W WX series CPUs. A lot of you are asking about Dmitry’s ThreadRipper build and why he didn’t wait for ThreadRipper 3 CPUs? Well now you know now.
About that platform: it is a beast. There’s 40 PCIe 4.0 lanes dedicated to add-in cards and 8 to the chipset link, add to that two sets of configurable ports that can each be set to deliver either 4 more PCIe lanes, 4 Gen4 NVMe lanes, or 4 SATA outputs. Then there’s also a hub for four USB 3.2 Gen2 connections. The TRX40 chipset comes into this with another 8 USB Gen2 ports, USB 3.0 connections, SATA 6Gbps, and another 8 general PCI 4.0 lanes that can be used for other devices. Finally, there are two more flexible hubs that can either accommodate PCIe capacity or SATA 6Gbps.
Now let’s get into the performance numbers that AMD gave us. Remember that ThreadRipper isn’t really geared for gaming or light workloads, it’s really meant for high level parallel computing work or a rendering tasks. For instance, if you want to render simultaneous 8K footage this is something that you might be looking into. I know AMD is showing performance gains against the previous generation Intel Core i9-9980XE, but the new i9-10980XE won’t be all that much different. Here you can clearly see why Intel being stuck at 14nm is a pretty big problem, even their highest-end desktop processors are stuck at 18 cores and I really don’t think that will be enough to prevent AMD from dominating across the board.
With ThreadRipper out of the way let’s talk about the Ryzen 9 3950X. This has been the CPU that everyone has been drooling over since Computex. As I mentioned earlier, AMD did delay this processor, but it’s finally available starting November 25th. A quick update on the specs, it’s got 16 cores, 32 threads, a huge 72MB of cache, and operates at pretty high clock speeds of 3.5GHz base and 4.7Ghz boost. It will cost $750 USD provided retailers don’t gouge on pricing. I think that might be the first problem because from what we have been hearing there’s going to be very limited quantities of the 3950X until AMD’s yields improve. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this thing skyrocket in terms of pricing when it officially launches, but what it does offer for the price is pretty impressive. The 3900X is priced at $500 USD, it comes with 12 cores, 24 threads, and 70MB of cache. The 3950X has eight more threads, a lower base clock, a 100MHz higher Max Boost Clock, but it costs 50% more. The 3950X has more cores and can run faster than the 3900X, but they both have a 105W TDP. I feel like AMD might be low balling here, because with the 3900X AMD includes the Wraith Prism cooler but with the 3950X they actually are recommending a 280mm AIO. We have seen this before and the second a product says optimize for water cooling it’s going to be running hot. I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll see.
From a pricing perspective, AMD is still offering more cores and lower prices than Intel even after they responded with Cascade Lake X. AMD is putting the hurt on Intel since their regular Ryzen series can now go head-to-head with the high-end X299 desktop platform. The 3950X will be priced between the i9-10940X and the i9-10920X, and it looks really really competitive with its 16 cores and 32 threads for the $750.
There are also a few other things that I wanted to mention. First of all, if you plan on using the 3950X in your system, you want to make sure that your motherboard is running the latest AGESA 18.104.22.168 otherwise you are going to have some compatibility issues. Also, AMD is implementing a new Eco-Mode, it will allow you to put the Ryzen 3000 series CPUs into lower power states, which gives most of the multi-core benefits without producing a ton of heat. That’s really big news for small form factor builders. According to AMD, the 3950X will perform equal to or better than the i9-9900K in gaming while also beating the i9-9920X by a pretty significant margin. However, something else to note is that this is at 1080P and I’m hoping most folks buying one such a pricey CPU would at least upgrade to a 1440P screen first. I really think this new CPU will be a huge deal for creators and AMD seems to feel the same way. It looks like every workload gets a speed up, which is great to see.
I think I’m gonna leave things here, because I’m really genuinely excited about what AMD is offering currently. They really value customers who want performance but without breaking the bank. And the most important thing to consider here is the fact that we were expecting Intel to respond in one way or another, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon because they are continuing to push 14nm. Anyways, I can’t wait to get these processors in the studio, and that should be happening soon.