AMD Threadripper 3: Everything we know so far

AMD Threadripper 3000 CPUs are nearly here, and they could be amazingly powerful

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X 1950X Review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

AMD’s Ryzen 3000 mainstream processors have blown us, and just about every other tech site, away. Everything from the 3600 through to the 3900X have been killer CPUs, delivering stiff competition to Intel. But what about Threadripper? We haven’t heard much from AMD about a third-generation of its high-end desktop chips, but they may not be far away at all, with rumors of some amazing specifications beginning to circulate.

Don’t want to wait? Here are the best processors you can buy right now.

Pricing and release date

AMD hasn’t made any official announcements about third-generation Threadripper CPUs just yet, having unceremoniously removed it from its 2019 roadmap earlier in the year. That doesn’t mean it’s dead, though. In fact, new rumors suggest it could launch in October to immediately combat Intel’s new 10th-generation Cascade Lake Xeon CPUs, as per TechPowerUp.

Some have suggested this may just be further hints at the release of AMD’s Ryzen 9 3950X, a 16-core mainstream processor. But while that chip will compete with Intel’s existing HEDT chips, like the 16-core 9960X, it would likely fall behind any new, higher-core-count offerings in the kind of multithreaded workloads this chips typically target. The consensus seems to be that Threadripper 3000 chips are coming and coming soon.

Pricing is another matter entirely. All we have to go on there are previous Threadripper prices. AMD launched its first-generation Threadripper CPUs for between $550 and $1,000, while the second-generation, which offered as many as double the cores, reached $1,800. It’s possible that the new-generation will maintain something close to that thanks to improved efficiencies and yield with the new 7nm technology it’s based on. But with more cores, AMD may opt for inflated prices so as not to completely invalidate its second-generation Threadripper processors.

Performance

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X 1950X Review
First-generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950x Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

A third-generation Threadripper CPU line is likely to be the most powerful range of non-server CPUs AMD has ever released. With a new Zen 2 architecture at its core, these chips would be based on the same combination of 7nm chiplet and 12nm I/O die as Ryzen 3000 and Epyc “Rome” processors. That means improved instructions per clock (IPC) or upwards of 15 percent, as well as improved power and memory efficiency.

With rumors of up to 64 cores on the top Threadripper 3000 chip, we would expect these processors to dominate second-generation Threadripper chips in multi-threaded workloads. The IPC boost would help improve single threaded performance too, although we may not see such expansive clock speeds with so many cores on one chip.

Still, improved boost clock algorithms should mean that we’ll see Threadripper 3000 processors maintain higher clock speeds for longer, depending, of course, on cooling and power. With the combination of the new I/O die and Windows 10’s May update scheduler fixes, we can expect automated switching between AMD CCXs. That means better performance, particularly during gaming.

Although mainstream processors will likely still be better for gaming on a bang for buck scale, it’s quite possible that the better binned cores in the Threadripper CPUs could make them some of the best gaming processors out there too.

Architecture

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X 1950X Review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

As with the Ryzen 3000 mainstream CPUs, a third-generation Threadripper processor would be based on the brand new Zen 2 architecture, which overhauls the design of the CPU. Instead of the four dies found on earlier-generation Threadripper chips, the new ones will feature a large IO die in the middle, and a collection of 7nm chiplets all joined together by an advanced version of AMD’s InfinityFabric.

The main difference between these chips and the more mainstream Ryzen offerings are the number of chiplets. But beyond additional cores, Threadripper chips also enjoy a far greater number of PCIe lanes. First and second-generation Threadripper CPUs featured 64 PCIe lanes (compared to 24 on mainstream chips), so we would expect at least as many on a third-generation Threadripper line.

Although AMD has massively improved memory latency with Zen 2 cores, to help provide enough bandwidth for as many as 64 cores, Threadripper 3000 chips will support more than the dual-channel memory of Ryzen 3000 CPUs. The last two generations of Threadripper have supported quad-channel memory, but it’s possible that like AMD’s Epyc Rome server CPUs, new Threadripper chips could support eight-channel memory.

Motherboards

AMD promised that like its mainstream Ryzen CPUs, that Threadripper’s TR4 socket would support all new-generations of processors up until 2020, so we would expect these new Threadripper CPUs to work on existing Threadripper motherboards. That said, like Ryzen 3000, we’d expect to see a new, third-generation chipset to launch alongside Threadripper 3000 chips, possibly to cater to the introduction of PCIe 4.0.

If the new chipset is anything like AMD’s mainstream x570, though, it will be very power hungry and will require capable, active cooling to keep it at a safe operating temperature. That could make for some very interesting motherboard designs.

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