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AMD Unveils Threadripper 3960X and 3970X, Ryzen 9 3950X Details, and Athlon 3000G

AMD's original Threadripper launch upset the established paradigm of the high end desktop (HEDT) space, offering more cores for less money than Intel's competing products. The second-generation products improved upon that value proposition immensely, even by Intel's own admission, but the new Threadripper 3000 'Castle Peak' processors could catapult AMD far beyond Intel's reach.

That sounds like a bold prediction given that AMD isn't increasing core counts (at least not yet) beyond the 32 found on the previous-gen Threadripper 2990WX, but the real difference is in the architecture. The first-gen Threadripper models suffered from erratic performance trends due to their unique architecture, but those processors were based on the same design as the first-gen EPYC Naples data center processors. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)


In contrast, the Threadripper 3000 processors are based on the EPYC Rome architecture (more information here), which is a phenomenal leap forward in almost every aspect. The EPYC Rome SoCs come with a unique design that consists of up to eight 7nm compute die with eight Zen 2 cores apiece, connected via the Infinity Fabric to a central 12nm I/O die that houses the memory and PCIe controllers. This new design eases many of the pain points of the previous-gen models, particularly in regards to providing consistent memory access to all compute die.

(Image credit: Lisa Su Twitter)

AMD isn't sharing details of the alterations it made to the Threadripper 3000 processors yet, but if the company employs the same design as Rome, it can tailor the number of compute chiplets, and the number of active cores, for each specific model. That means we could easily see 64-core Threadripper models in the future, though AMD might split these into a new workstation variant that has cropped up in leaks but still hasn't been officially announced.

Unlike the EPYC Rome processors, however, the new Threadripper processors are not backward compatible with the existing Socket TR4 found on X399 motherboards. Instead, AMD has created a new sTRX4 socket to provide expanded I/O functionality, so it may have made other changes to the design.

For now, AMD is withholding the finer details, but the company did share quite a bit of information about the new socket, motherboards, and processor.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X and 3970X Price and Specifications

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(Image credit: AMD)
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(Image credit: AMD)
Cores /ThreadsBase / Boost (GHz)L3 Cache (MB)PCIeDRAMTDPMSRP/RCPPrice Per Core
TR 3970X32 / 643.7 / 4.5*12888 Gen 4 (72 Usable)Quad DDR4-3200280W$1999$62.47
TR 2990WX32 / 643.0 / 4.26464 (4 to PCH) Gen 3Quad DDR4-2933250W$1799$56
TR 3960X24 / 483.8 / 4.5*12888 Gen 4 (72 Usable)Quad DDR4-3200280W$1,399$58.29
TR 2970WX24 / 483.0 / 4.26464 (4 to PCH) Gen 3Quad DDR4-2933250W$1299$54
Core i9-10980XE18 / 363.0 / 4.824.7548 Gen 3 Quad DDR4-2933165W$979$54.39
Core i9-9980XE18 / 363.0 / 4.524.7544 Gen 3Quad DDR4-2666165W$1979$110

Just like the previous-gen models, AMD gears these chips for 'Creators' and heavy multi-taskers, and not specifically for the workstation market, which requires a specific RAS feature set. Also like their previous-gen counterparts, the Threadripper 3000 processors both feature more cores than any competing Intel HEDT processor.

The Threadripper 3970X weighs in with 32 cores and 64 threads for $1,999 and comes with 144MB of total cache (128MB L3). The chip itself exposes 88 lanes, but some of those are consumed by the new TRX40 chipset, leaving 72 usable PCIe gen 4.0 lanes for the end user. The PCIe 4.0 interface is a notable advantage of AMD's Ryzen desktop lineup, but it isn't as important as it is in the HEDT space where high-speed storage and networking devices are more likely to find their way into powerful systems. 

The 3970X features a 3.7 GHz base clock and 4.5 GHz boost. Both of these values are exceedingly high for AMD's high core-count models: For reference, the 32-core EPYC Rome models top out at a 2.8 GHz base and 3.4 GHz boost, signaling that AMD has made significant changes to tailor this chip for the consumer market. AMD isn't disclosing if these chips will also come with a mix of faster and slower cores. 

AMD didn't share the number on official slides but told us that the chip respects a 280W TDP. 

(Image credit: YouTube)

Stepping back a notch, the Threadripper 3960X offers up 24 cores and 48 threads that run at a 3.8 GHz base and 4.5 GHz boost, which is again significantly higher than its data center counterparts. This chip comes armed with 140MB of total cache, which might indicate that AMD adheres to the same chiplet provisioning design that it uses for the Rome processors (image to the right). This chip also exposes the same I/O accommodations as its sibling. 

The Threadripper 3000 processors support quad-channel DDR4-3200 memory, and we expect that to include ECC memory, though it isn't officially confirmed. 

The big takeaway is that after its gen-on-gen price cut with Cascade Lake-X, Intel doesn't have any processors for the HEDT market that weigh in at over $1,000, unless you count its $3,000 Xeon W-3175X that is absolutely not a standard HEDT product. 

AMD Threadripper 3000 TRX40 Motherboards and sTRX4 Socket

AMD promised forward compatibility with its AM4 socket until 2020, but never made that promise for the previous-gen Threadripper's TR4 (SP3) socket. That's a good thing because the new Threadripper processors require a new socket to handle the explosive growth of I/O connectivity. The socket is mechanically the same as the previous FCLGA 4094 interface, but AMD has juggled around the pin assignments to add more capabilities. 

Because the socket is mechanically the same, coolers designed for the TR4 socket are compatible. AMD says that any cooler that could satisfy the 250W TDP of older Threadripper processors will work fine with the 280W thermal dissipation from the Castle Peak chips. 

(Image credit: AMD)

Along with the new socket comes a new chipset. The TRX40 benefits from twice the number of PCIe lanes from the processor and the move to PCIe 4.0 throughput, which now totals 16GB/s -- quadruple the bandwidth for the X399 platform. That will help with increasing data rates to bandwidth-hungry storage arrays hanging off the chipset. 

The TRX40 chipset is likely a 12nm version of the 14nm IOD chip inside the Threadripper processor, just like we see with the desktop platform, but AMD isn't sharing more details yet. 

We can see support for up to 12X USB 10Gbps ports, and that the platform exposes 72 PCIe 4.0 lanes. 

AMD Threadripper 3000 Performance

(Image credit: AMD)

AMD provided a few benchmarks that show the Threadripper processors handily dispatching the $1,999 Core i9-9980XE in a series of heavily-threaded benchmarks, but it's notable that the real competitors, Cascade Lake-X, are not available on the market yet. 

PAGE 1: AMD Unleashes the Cores

PAGE 2: Threadripper 3960X and 3970X, TRX40 Chipset, sTRX4 Socket

PAGE 3: AMD Athlon 3000G, Unlocking Overclocking on the Low End

  • jimmysmitty
    I can't wait to see some third party benchmarks and testing. I am interested in the 3950X mainly in the cooling requirements. I also want to see a more fair power assessment than one from a company. Who knows what exact setup they used to get power readings.

    New board for TR3, sucks for anyone on TR2 wanting to just CPU upgrade. I think its a good idea for AMD. Design the socket, chipset and CPU around each other for optimal performance gains.

    Price also went up, logical since they sell well. AMD might as well make as much as they can.

    But they will have to compete with CL-X which has the price cut in half and until we see reviews I would assume CL-X will still have a clock speed advantage.

    Should be an interesting couple of weeks.
    Reply
  • NightHawkRMX
    Is it bad I am most interested in the 3000g, even though it shouldn't be that interesting since it is just a zen+ dual core with vega 3.

    But, since it is zen+ and unlocked, so I would love to see how far it will overclock. I want to see 4+ghz.
    Reply
  • NightHawkRMX
    jimmysmitty said:
    New board for TR3, sucks for anyone on TR2 wanting to just CPU upgrade. I think its a good idea for AMD. Design the socket, chipset and CPU around each other for optimal performance gains.
    Well, to be fair Intel will only give you 2 generations on a platform normally, so this is not bad
    Reply
  • exploding_psu
    "That's a notable claim because the -9900K has twice the amount of cores"

    I think you meant the 3950X here instead of the 9900K. Small mistake, I know, but I got a little bit confused reading that part..
    Reply
  • kinggremlin
    AMD provided a few benchmarks that show the Threadripper processors handily dispatching the $1,999 Core i9-9980XE in a series of heavily-threaded benchmarks,

    The formerly $1,999 i9-9980XE. It sells for well below that now.
    Newegg -$1090At $1000, the i9-10980XE will be priced quite competitively vs these new Threadripper CPU's.
    Reply
  • mdd1963
    NightHawkRMX said:
    Is it bad I am most interested in the 3000g, even though it shouldn't be that interesting since it is just a zen+ dual core with vega 3.

    But, since it is zen+ and unlocked, so I would love to see how far it will overclock. I want to see 4+ghz.

    Zero use for 2c/4t systems for use with any games whatsoever....

    I read this is a die-shrink of the 200G, with a 100 MHz boost in clock speed...

    There might be a market for some bargain basement, 'we need a bunch of complete $299 systems with 4 GB of RAM and $50 CPUs ASAP', but, I'm not sure that's a market I'd be searching for, as it sounds more like WalMart's realm/area of specialty...(or maybe Dell with a complete system at $199)
    Reply
  • Darkbreeze
    Actually, that CPU would make a perfectly fine little HTPC. You don't need more than 2/4 for a box that's going to do nothing more than serve up music and movies from some small form factor brick.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    NightHawkRMX said:
    Well, to be fair Intel will only give you 2 generations on a platform normally, so this is not bad

    Yea. I said I think its a good thing. I don't think trying to keep CPUs and old boards compatible is the best way to go. Give it 2 or 3 gens then move on to reap overall system improvements. Could you imagine if people were able to throw a Ryzne 3 CPU into a 990FX board? I mean moneys worth on the board but thats what some people actually want.

    Darkbreeze said:
    Actually, that CPU would make a perfectly fine little HTPC. You don't need more than 2/4 for a box that's going to do nothing more than serve up music and movies from some small form factor brick.

    I would have to test it TBH. My HTPC has a, be it older, quad core AMD CPU (one of the old Athlon 4 core mini boards, and the CPU is a big drag. I also had to recently upgrade the GPU and went nVidia because none of the low profile AMD GPUs supported x265 10bit HEVC encoded videos. But a cheap GT 1030 does so yay.
    Reply
  • logainofhades
    As there was a version, for TR4 motherboard mounting, and it was able to handle those CPU's, I am sure the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 would handle a 3950x, just fine, for those not wanting an AIO.
    Reply
  • Soaptrail
    Paul has a correction to make:

    However, the 7nm process enables incredible density and does afford power advantages, which AMD says equates to more than twice the performance-per-watt of Intel's Core i9-9900K and -9920X (measured at the wall). AMD also says a Ryzen 9 3950X system pulls 28W less than the Core i9-9900K. That's a notable claim because the -9900K has twice the number of cores. We'll be sure to put those power measurements to the test in our review.

    Should be the 3950X has twice the cores.
    Reply