AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X 32 Core, $1999 US CPU Review With ASRock TRX40 Taichi Motherboard
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X CPU / ASRock TRX40 Taichi Motherboard2019
Packing tons of cores and double the threads, the first two installments of Ryzen Threadripper series left us all in shock and awe. The first generation Ryzen Threadripper series offered us an insane 16 core and 32 thread beast in the form of the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, something that the HEDT market had never seen before, prompting Intel to release their own answer in the form of the Core i9-7980XE, an 18 core and 36 thread chip. But Intel's first spot in the core count race was short-lived with AMD releasing their second installment of the Threadripper lineup, featuring 32 cores and 64 threads on the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX processor.
Once again, Intel tried to offer their best but couldn't keep up with the core count that AMD managed to deliver. Intel only managed to offer a 28 core and 56 thread chip known as the Xeon W-3175X. But once again, AMD not only won the core count war but the pricing war too since their 32 core chip was priced $1000 less compared to Intel's flagship part.
Now, AMD has officially announced the 3rd installment of the Ryzen Threadripper family. Once again, AMD is uplifting the performance of their Threadripper parts by utilizing 7nm Zen 2 cores which offer up to 15% better IPC than Zen+ and come in a unique chiplet architecture which was first introduced on AMD's 2nd Generation EPYC lineup known as Rome. The two parts launching today are the Ryzen Threadripper 3970X and the 3960X. For this review, we will be testing the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X with the ASRock TRX40 Taichi motherboard.
AMD Threadripper vs Intel Core - More Than Just Core Wars
Before I start this review, let's take a quick recap of the core wars that's been going on since the beginning of 2017 between AMD and Intel. Prior to 2017, the industry was used to the annual 4 core mainstream and 8/10 core high-end desktop refreshes that Intel produced. Intel was also on top of the game since AMD's Bulldozer (and its various iterations) didn't pose major threat & Zen was still under-development.
So how did Intel go from the leader of the HEDT space to being crushed by AMD's mainstream chip platform? You are expecting me to blame Intel's reliance on 14nm for this issue and while it is a factor, it isn't as big as some other bad decisions that went into Intel's HEDT lineup starting with the 7th Generation Core-X series. You see, back in 2017, there was no AMD HEDT lineup and Intel was considered to be the bleeding-edge HEDT offerer in the market space. While AMD had started pushing Intel to offer more cores in the mainstream segment (e.g. four cores flagship on Kaby Lake vs 6 cores flagship on Coffee Lake), they weren't expecting or rightly put, weren't in the mood to innovate their HEDT lineup any time soon.
Then 1st Gen Threadripper happened and we all know how AMD caught Intel with their pants off. The problem wasn't that Intel didn't have the platform to compete against AMD, it's more to do with their laziness on how they wanted to continue offering 10 cores / 20 thread chips as flagship HEDT parts for years to come. You see, Intel had the technology to offer 12 cores and 24 threads back in their Ivy Bridge generation, 18 cores and 36 threads in the Haswell generation & same in the Skylake generation. However, knowing they dominated the market, the didn't see the reason to innovate the HEDT space anytime soon.
HEDT & Mainstream Segment Core/Thread Count Race:
|AMD HEDT||N/A||16 / 32||32 / 64||32 / 64||64 / 128|
|Intel HEDT||10 / 20||18 / 36||18 / 36||18 / 36|
28 / 56 (Xeon W-3175X)
|18 / 36
28 / 56 (Xeon W-3175X)
|AMD Mainstream||8 / 8||8 / 16||8 / 16||16 / 32||16 /32|
|Intel Mainstream||4/8||6 / 12||8 / 16||8 / 16||10 / 20|
So what do you when your darkest nightmare comes true? Rush to rebadge Xeon parts which could've been done early on and don't give partners enough time to evaluate your new chips on their products, resulting in a botched launch. Intel's first Core-X lineup was a mess and that is why it took Intel 3 generations just to fix the problems of their first X-series lineup.
The 3 years of Threadrippers have also been building up to this moment. While Intel was fixing their X-series lineup, AMD was gaining at both fronts, the market and mind share. You have to sacrifice margins for market share gains and word of mouth to spread before you start hiking up prices for higher profits.
AMD's Threadrippers are repurposed EPYC chips just like how Intel's Core X processors are repurposed Xeon chips that couldn't pass the server-level qualifications. This was another factor which if Intel could've considered earlier on wouldn't get their HEDT lineup into so much trouble. AMD was willing to cut the profit margins offering the same core counts of their EPYC lineup on the Threadripper parts. Intel might have downplayed the fact that in the coming years, AMD's Ryzen Threadripper core count would match the EPYC lineup. This is a superb game played by AMD where their first-generation Threadripper had half the core count of EPYC Naples and only the second generation that launched a year later offered the full 32 cores. This is changing with 3rd generation as the Threadripper 3990X will be carrying 64 cores, same as the top-end EPYC chip.
AMD is also taking Intel's position, becoming the leader of the HEDT market but at the same time, not let this platform become stagnant. AMD is aware that eventually, Intel would have a response which is the next topic I want to shed light on so they want to stay on the high-ground whenever Intel tackles them but also try to maximize profits when there is no competition which we can get a slight hint of from the 3rd Gen Threadripper prices. AMD is easing up on the prices and only Intel themselves is to blame.