AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X.
AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper 1950X is many things. It is an excellent workstation processor, an okay gaming chip, and literally the biggest processor to debut this year. But above all, it’s a nemesis to Intel that is finally making Santa Clara sit up and take notice.
For the first time in years, Intel isn’t alone in the highend desktop space. Ryzen Threadripper is based on the same Zen architecture as AMD’s more mainstream Ryzen chips, but they also share the same DNA as its server-class EPYC processors.
This means familiar SenseMI features like Extended Frequency Range (XFR), Pure Power, and Precision Boost, alongside a highly scalable data fabric that enables support for multi-socket and multi-die configurations and massive I/O expansion options.
The Ryzen Threadripper 1950X offers 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes from the CPU, where 60 lanes feed directly to the PCIe and M.2 sockets (the other four go to the chipset). Depending on your PCIe device bandwidth configuration, AMD states the system can support up to seven PCIe devices at any one time, a godsend for content creators wanting to set up a multi-GPU render farm, data scientists, or even a hardcore gamer looking at a 4-way GPU setup.
These are quite disparate groups of users, but that’s exactly what AMD is hoping for with Threadripper. It wants it to be the chip that can do it all, a processor that will appeal to researchers and scientists, content creators, and the serious Twitch streamer.
The basic building block of Ryzen is a 4-core CPU Complex (CCX) that is associated with 8MB of L3 cache. This CCX is in turn linked to another via AMD’s high-speed Infinity Fabric interconnect, comprising an 8-core silicon die that you may have seen referred to as Zeppelin.
The 1950X features two Zeppelin dies located at opposite corners, both of which are also joined by the Infinity Fabric interconnect. The 12-core 1920X uses two 8-core dies as well, but one core on each CCX has been disabled in a 3+3+3+3 arrangement.
Two dual-channel memory controllers sit on each 8-core die, so Threadripper supports quad-channel memory configurations.
The 1950X features 16 cores and 32 threads, a mind-boggling number and far more than any regular gamer would need. To be clear, if all you’re going to be doing is gaming and some photo-editing, Threadripper is not for you.
Multi-threaded performance is where the 1950X really shines, and you’re not going to see its best side if all you do is game. This is a processor that demands heavily threaded professional applications, or even concurrent live-streamed gameplay.
In the Cinebench R15 multi-threaded benchmark, the 1950X posted a score of 3,054, a good 38 per cent quicker than the Intel Core i9-7900X, a 10-core chip. But to give that more perspective, the latter was in turn over twice as fast as the quad-core Core i7- 7740X.
It’s less impressive in benchmarks like SYSmark 2014 SE and PCMark 10, which mostly utilize lightlythreaded applications that would see more benefit from fewer cores and higher frequencies. That’s why the Core i9-7900X still has an advantage here, thanks to its high 4.5GHz Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 speed across two cores.
In comparison, XFR lets the 1950X boost to 4.2GHz, up from a base clock of 3.4GHz. This shows in the single-threaded Cinebench test, where the 1950X was 16 per cent slower than the Core i9-7900X.
When it comes to games, the same weakness we noticed with Ryzen rears its head. 1080p gaming is still not Ryzen’s strong suit, even with this super-charged Threadripper variant, and the 1950X falls behind far cheaper processors like the Intel Core i7-7700K.
Technically, this isn’t the fault of the 1950X. It’s just that games aren’t ready to take advantage of the number of cores and threads it has, and the vast majority of titles still prefer higher clock speeds.
However, the performance differences start to even out as you move up to 4K resolutions where the GPU is the biggest limiting factor, so part of Threadripper’s appeal may depend on what resolution you intend to game at.
At $1,589, the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X demands you cough up quite a bit. In comparison to Intel however, it is offering better multi-threaded performance for less, so it definitely wins in the value department.
This isn’t some messianic chip that smashes through the dominance Intel has established over the years. But it’s a strong start and a very worthy competitor, and power users who create content, game, and stream to Twitch will find a lot to like.
A powerful chip with excellent multithreaded performance. Good for those who are both content creators and gamers.
AT A GLANCE
BASE/XFR CLOCK 3.40GHz/4.20GHz.
MEMORY SUPPORT Quad-channel DDR4- 2667.
L3 CACHE 32MB.