With its Ryzen Threadripper processor, AMD offers a product featuring a unique combination of performance and expandability. But while customers are willing to pay as much as $50,000 per Threadripper-based workstations, in many cases, it is impossible to build one as in the recent month's supply of these CPUs has been severely low, PC makers complain.
Several companies in the U.S. offer workstations based on AMD's Ryzen Threadripper and Threadripper Pro processors with up to 64 cores. According to The Register (opens in new tab), six of these PC makers complained about shortages of these CPUs that began in the fourth quarter of last year. Maingear, Puget Systems, and Velocity Micro are among those companies.
Velocity Micro said that while it has some Ryzen Threadripper 3960X and 3970X CPUs in stock, it does not have any 64-core Ryzen Threadripper 3990X left (among the best CPUs for workstations today). Meanwhile, the Ryzen Threadripper 3990X has been its most popular processor in the workstation category. The company can still offer Ryzen Threadripper Pro-based machines, but these are too expensive for most of its clients. AMD reportedly warned about upcoming shortages of its Ryzen Threadripper in Q4, but early this year, the company said the supply would get even tighter.
Maingear, another custom PC maker, has the same problems as Velocity Micro. For Puget Systems, the shortage of AMD's Ryzen Threadripper slowed down the workstation business 'a little' and prompted to offer Intel Xeon-based workstations to some of the clients instead.
"If I sell 10 systems that are 15 grand a pop to a single customer, that's a big purchase order," said Wallace Santos, CEO of Maingear, a boutique PC maker that has historically been particularly enthusiastic about AMD processors. "It's not a small purchase order for me. So imagine saying no to a [purchase order] with like 30, 40 systems. It's real money, and it's just a shame that it turned out this way."
Historically, AMD offered its Ryzen Threadripper processors with an unlocked multiplier (and therefore overclocking capability) both for end-users and PC makers. But in mid-2020, the company rolled out its Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3000WX-series processors with support for up to 2TB of memory and 128 PCIe lanes, but without overclocking and available only to workstation makers. This March, the company followed up with its Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5000WX-series CPUs, but these parts are exclusively available to Lenovo until the second half.
Smaller workstation makers cannot obtain higher-end Ryzen Threadripper 3000/3000WX Pro or 5000WX Pro CPUs. As a result, they are essentially losing business to Lenovo, which is exceptionally unpleasant. As a result, they have invested a lot in promoting their Ryzen Threadripper-based offerings and this brand.
"The bottom line is I want to lose as few Threadrippers as possible to a multinational," said Randy Copeland, CEO of Velocity Micro.
The shortages are so severe that at least one manufacturer decided to put more effort into developing and marketing Intel Xeon-based workstations despite massive demand for AMD's offering for powerful workstations.
"We have strategically made a decision to not count on AMD as much," one executive of a PC maker told The Register.