Even before the AMD EPYC 7002 Series Rome launch, I have been asking AMD for an EPYC-based higher-frequency workstation part. We reviewed the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X and Threadripper 3970X along with several of the previous-gen Threadrippers. Something clearly stood out as close but not quite what we wanted. The Threadripper series utilizes quad-channel memory and does not support RDIMMs/ LRDIMMs along with a lower PCIe lane count. In contrast, the EPYC series has octo-channel memory and supports RDIMMs, LRDIMMs, and 128 PCIe lanes. In our Threadripper 3990X review we noted: e7-8860
“We should point out that AMD could make a part like this with a full set of 128x PCIe lanes and 8 channel DDR4.”
That is exactly what AMD did but they are calling it the Threadripper Pro instead of EPYC. Let us get into more details.
AMD Threadripper Pro
The AMD Threadripper Pro series spans four variants at this launch. The Threadripper Pro 3995WX has 64 cores and 128 threads while at the lower-end there is a Threadripper Pro 3945WX with 12 cores and 24 threads. You will notice all of these options have 128x PCIe lanes, 280W TDP, and support 8-channel ECC LRDIMM and RDIMMs.
AMD is adding L2 cache to the cache totals as it does often on the Ryzen side. One can read the 3995WX as having 256MB L3 cache, the 3975WX as having 128MB L3 cache, and the other two SKUs having 64MB. With 280W TDPs these chips are able to hit 2.7-4.0GHz base clocks and 4.2-4.3GHz turbo clocks. Those are great numbers which will make the 3995WX an interesting competitor to the AMD EPYC 7H12. The 280W AMD EPYC 7H12 has a 2.6GHz base and 3.3GHz max boost clock. One of the strange consequences of this announcement is that the Threadripper Pro 3995WX and other Threadripper Pro SKUs may end up being better alternatives to even some of the new frequency optimized parts such as the AMD EPYC 7F52. While one gives up dual-socket operation, one gets higher clock speeds with ECC RDIMM support. Many organizations use a NIC per CPU socket anyway which at least makes this intriguing.
AMD shows the comparison to Intel. At this point, we know Intel does not have the same core counts or PCIe lanes, but AMD is driving that point. AMD in its briefing also focused on just how many Xeon W lines there are and dozens of SKUs.
Xeon W technically can have higher-memory SKUs than AMD is giving them credit for above. An example is the M-variant of the Intel Xeon W-3275 we reviewed. Given how aggressive AMD’s marketing claims are, they should have at least acknowledged this.
We are basically going to skip most of the AMD comparisons since AMD did something that is valid, but a bit misleading. With the big 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Refresh as well as the 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Cooper Lake launch, the Xeon Platinum 8280 is effectively a previous generation part. After the “Refresh” SKUs were launched Intel effectively has the Xeon Gold 6258R SKUs as the dual-socket 28-core options. Our Gold 6258R review is in the publishing queue and the numbers are close enough, except for one use case that is not really workstation related, that the Platinum 8280 was relegated to 4P/ 8P systems after the refresh.
After the Cooper Lake launch, the Platinum 8380H would be the 4/8 socket SKU to displace the Platinum 8280. While still technically a current generation part, practically, the Platinum 8280 is now a previous generation part which is why it was shocking to see this in the comparison. Again, it is valid, but the better comparison is the Gold 6258R that costs over 60% less and is within low single-digit percentage performance deltas.
This is one where we wish AMD called this an EPYC W for workstation or something like that. If they had done so, AMD would have maintained shoppers looking at Ryzen v. Core and EPYC v. Xeon.
There are some differences such as having a TRX80 platform over the TRX40 we saw with the 3rd Gen Threadripper to account for features such as additional memory channels. Still, this is more of an AMD “WEPYC” than a Threadripper Pro part.
For consumers this is great. AMD is not disclosing list pricing because it is selling through a channel model with Lenovo being the first channel partner. That helps AMD control pricing and also lets the company go to market with some of the bigger players. For boutique system builders, they will need to find a way to service their clients, or else this decision will effectively leave them without a differentiated product to sell. With the availability still being later in Q3 2020, there is still time for this to change.
Overall, this is a great product that we are very excited about. Lenovo, and presumably others later, will have large professional markets they can bring the Threadripper Pro to. At the same time, AMD marketing is getting aggressive with their comparisons and there are many STH readers at VARs that are going to need to find a way to compete with this new product strategy.