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.
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.
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
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Cores /Threads||Base / Boost (GHz)||L3 Cache (MB)||PCIe||DRAM||TDP||MSRP/RCP||Price Per Core|
|TR 3970X||32 / 64||3.7 / 4.5||*128||88 Gen 4 (72 Usable)||Quad DDR4-3200||280W||$1999||$62.47|
|TR 2990WX||32 / 64||3.0 / 4.2||64||64 (4 to PCH) Gen 3||Quad DDR4-2933||250W||$1799||$56|
|TR 3960X||24 / 48||3.8 / 4.5||*128||88 Gen 4 (72 Usable)||Quad DDR4-3200||280W||$1,399||$58.29|
|TR 2970WX||24 / 48||3.0 / 4.2||64||64 (4 to PCH) Gen 3||Quad DDR4-2933||250W||$1299||$54|
|Core i9-10980XE||18 / 36||3.0 / 4.8||24.75||48 Gen 3||Quad DDR4-2933||165W||$979||$54.39|
|Core i9-9980XE||18 / 36||3.0 / 4.5||24.75||44 Gen 3||Quad DDR4-2666||165W||$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.
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.
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
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