AMD announced that its Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX and 2920X processors would be available on October 29, 2018 for $1,299 and $649, respectively. The company also announced several new advances on the software front, including a new Dynamic Local Mode that automatically migrates applications to CPU cores with direct memory access.
The two new Threadripper processors, which AMD announced earlier this year, offer a less-expensive path onto the X399 platform. The range-topping Threadripper 2990WX introduced the first 32-core, 64-thread processor to the high-end desktop. The impressive processor boasts a 3.0GHz base frequency that stretches up to 4.2GHz, but it also comes with an eye-watering $1,799 price tag.
The more accessible $1,299 Threadripper 2970WX slots in with 24-core and 48-threads and features 3.0/4.2GHz base/boost clocks. Fewer cores equate to less raw horsepower in heavily threaded workloads, but like all of AMD's Ryzen processors, the 2970WX comes with an unlocked multiplier, so overclocking is on the table. The 2970WX also features the same 64MB of L3 cache as its more expensive counterpart. That's generous on AMD’s part: Intel typically disables cache in lock-step with cores, so “lesser” chips come with less cache.
AMD’s WX processors feature a unique architecture that causes poor performance in a few common desktop applications. As we’ll cover shortly, AMD also revealed a new software feature today that helps address the performance challenges born of the multi-chip design.
|Cores /Threads||Base / Boost (GHz)||L3 Cache (MB)||PCIe 3.0||DRAM||TDP||MSRP|
|TR 2990WX||32 / 64||3.0 / 4.2||64||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2933||250W||$1,799|
|TR 2970WX||24 / 48||3.0 / 4.2||64||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2933||250W||$1,299|
|Core i9-7980XE||18 / 36||2.6 / 4.4||24.75||44||Quad DDR4-2666||140W||$1,999|
|TR 2950X||16 / 32||3.5 / 4.4||32||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2933||180W||$899|
|TR 1950X||16 / 32||3.4 / 4.4||32||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2667||180W||$750|
|Core i9-7960X||16 / 32||2.8 / 4.4||22||44||Quad DDR4-2666||140W||$1,699|
|TR 2920X||12 / 24||3.5 / 4.3||32||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2933||180W||$649|
|TR 1920X||12 / 24||3.5 / 4.2||32||64 (4 to PCH)||Quad DDR4-2667||180W||$399|
|Core i9-7920X||12 /24||2.9 / 4.4||16.50||44||Quad DDR4-2666||140W||$1,199|
|Core i9-7900X||10 / 20||3.3 / 4.3||13.75||44||Quad DDR4-2666||140W||$999|
The new $649 Threadripper 2920X slots in beneath the 16 core, 32 thread 2950X. The 12 core, 24 thread 2920X offers a base frequency of 3.5GHz and a maximum boost clock rate of 4.3GHz. As with previous X-series models, the 2920X utilizes a pair of eight-core dies and two dummy packages. The active dies expose the same 32MB of L3 cache as the more expensive 2950X.
AMD Dynamic Local Mode
AMD’s Threadripper processors have a unique Multi-Chip Module (MCM) architecture that can penalize performance in some applications. AMD’s targeted enhancements to the X-series processors have eliminated much of the performance overhead, but the new WX-series processors feature a quad-die design that presents new challenges. We’ve covered the nuts and bolts of the design, but in short, two of the four die inside the processor come without directly attached memory controllers. That requires memory-hungry applications to access another die during operation, which penalizes performance.
AMD originally created two selectable memory modes, Local and Distributed, to sidestep some of the challenges. But switching between those modes requires a reboot, and there’s still room for improvement on the performance front.
AMD’s new Dynamic Local Mode, which is strictly for the Threadripper 2990WX and 2970WX processors, runs as a background service inside the operating system and automatically detects memory-starved application threads and dynamically assigns them to die with local memory controllers, thus boosting performance up to 49 percent. Conversely, it detects threads that aren’t as sensitive to memory latency and assigns them to the die without memory controllers, thus maximizing the processor’s execution resources. This new implementation is transparent to the user and happens without a reboot.
As we can see from AMD's benchmarks above, the company claims the feature provides substantial boosts in some games and applications. We'll be putting this new feature to the test shortly, but we'll have to wait to share the details. AMD will make the new Dynamic Local Mode available to the public at the time of the Threadripper launch on October 29.
Finally, the company also announced a few updates to the broader software ecosystem:
- Game performance using Nvidia Graphics products on Ryzen Threadripper platforms has reportedly been improved. See page 13 of the 399.24 driver release notes for more information.
- The Far Cry 5 Update 9, released on August 9, addressed an application bug affecting many logical processor (high thread count) products, including Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX, and claim to improve gaming performance. You can read more details here.
- Microsoft released the Windows 10 October 2018 update (version 1809) on October 2. In addition to a number of new features, the update is said to improve stability with products leveraging 64 or more logical processors (high thread count processors), including Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX.
EDIT: Corrected 2970WX boost clock.