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AMD launches Threadripper Pro in the first 64-core professional workstation

AMD has announced a new line of Ryzen Threadripper Pro processors, and they will launch exclusively in a new workstation PC from Lenovo.

Ryzen Threadripper chips, AMD’s most powerful processors, are meant to compete against Intel’s professional Xeon W-series chips. With up to 64 cores, they were a big hit with enthusiasts, but never caught on in professional workstations. Threadripper Pro fixes that by adding new features and performance capabilities to better suit professional work environments, workloads, and IT departments.

Star of the show

These Threadripper Pro chips won’t be sold directly to consumers. AMD will instead work with system builders and OEMs to roll them out, starting with Lenovo and its ThinkStation P620 workstation. The new processors are the star of the show, as the P620 doesn’t deviate much from other ThinkStation workstations with its 33-liter chassis.

The system has been “co-engineered” between the two companies, and includes a custom AMD heat sink and a tool-free design for easy management and upgrades. It’s a completely air-cooled design, unlike the water cooling used in some of Lenovo’s other high-end ThinkStation PCs.

The ThinkStation P520 is also the first PCIe 4 workstation, with support for these faster storage solutions and graphics cards.

Speaking of graphics, the ThinkStation 620 can support up to two Nvidia Quadro 8000 or four Nvidia RTX Quadro 4000 GPUs. Though the current selection of Nvidia cards are PCIe 3, Lenovo says it’s eager to support the next-generation GPUs, which will be PCIe 4.

Lenovo currently sells dual-socket high-end workstations that use two Intel Xeon processors to attain higher processing power in multithreaded applications. To put things in perspective, these dual-socket Intel systems still max out at 56 cores.

“Now users can achieve seamless 8K streaming in real time, reduced render times, ultrafast simulation solving, quick assembly rebuilds. and smooth interactivity with 3D assets — all without having to scale to a dual-socket system,” Lenovo said in its press release.

Higher frequencies

These new Threadripper Pro chips are based on the latest Threadripper 3000 chips, first launched in late 2019. The high-end options match the current selection of Threadripper chips, from core count and clock speed to the TDP and cache size. The Pro chips divert in a few key areas, though.

First, AMD is filling out the lineup to include lower-core count chips with higher frequencies. AMD will now offer 12- and 16-core configurations, with up to a 4.0GHz base clock speed. These compete more closely with Intel’s Xeon W offerings, such as the 12-core Xeon W-2265 or 16-core Xeon W-2295. AMD says higher clock speeds are useful for some specific professional industries, such as engineering and construction.

AMD’s third-generation Theadripper chips already enjoyed a substantial lead over Intel in multithreaded performance, which is useful in industries such as media and data science. Clock speed, though, has always been Intel’s advantage. But this new 12-core Threadripper Pro chip matches the core count of Intel’s Xeon W-2265 and boasts a significantly faster base frequency.

Note that when comparing cache size between Intel and AMD, the two companies calculate and market that number quite differently.

Cores/Threads Base Frequency Boost Frequency Total cache (L2 + L3) TDP
Threadripper Pro 3995WX 64/128 2.7GHz 4.2GHz 288MB 280w
Threadripper Pro 3975WX 32/64 3.5GHz 4.2GHz 144MB 280w
Threadripper Pro 3955WX 16/32 3.9GHz 4.3GHz 72MB 280w
Threadripper Pro 3945WX 12/24 4.0GHz 4.3GHz 70MB 280w

Other new features in the Threadripper Pro chips include a new eight-channel memory subsystem for up to an insane 2TB of memory, up to 128 lanes of PCIe 4.0, and AMD Pro manageability features. These “AMD Pro” features are the company’s alternative to Intel’s “vPro” set of security and manageability solutions.

The Threadripper Pro chips will also use a new socket and chipset to support additional memory lanes.

Pricing for the ThinkStation P620 not been finalized, though Lenovo hints that it should undercut the pricing of the company’s dual-socket Intel workstations. Lenovo expects the AMD-powered ThinkStation P620 will launch in late September or early October. The ThinkStation P620 will maintain exclusivity for an undisclosed period of time before opening up to competing system builders.

Though this is the first desktop Lenovo has worked with AMD on, it says it’s already looking at further collaboration in other products. The company has proven an early adopter of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile processors in a number of its laptops, as well as AMD’s earlier series of mobile processors.

Threadripper 4000 chips, which are said to use the newer Zen 2 architecture, are rumored for launch later in 2020.

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