AMD's Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and Ryzen Threadripper 1920X have been hogging the high-end desktop spotlight of late, but this morning, the Threadripper 1900X takes the stage. This entry-level ticket to the X399 platform pairs eight Zen cores with quad-channel memory and 64 PCIe lanes for expansion cards or storage for $549, and it's available today from Newegg, at Amazon, and from other online retailers.
|PCIe 3.0 lanes
|16||32||3.4 GHz||8MB/32MB||4.0 GHz||200 MHz||64||4||180W||$999|
Although the 1900X's basic specifications may sound similar to those of the Ryzen 7 1800X, the story isn't quite that simple. Like other Threadripper CPUs, the 1900X draws its processing power from two eight-core Zeppelin dies on a monster TR4 package. Each die has four cores and eight threads enabled, and they're connected across a diagonal Infinity Fabric topology. The 1900X has the same 4 MB of L2 cache and 16 MB of L3 cache as the Ryzen 7 1800X.
AMD also took advantage of the extra thermal headroom and top-5% die selection process for Threadripper to give the 1900X a slight speed boost over the Ryzen 7 1800X. The 1900X has a 3.8 GHz base clock, a 4 GHz boost speed, and a 4.2 GHz XFR clock for lightly-threaded workloads. Those are mild increases over the 3.6 GHz base clock, 4.0 GHz boost clock, and 4.1 GHz XFR speeds of the Ryzen 7 1800X, but every little bit counts.
AMD hasn't sent out Threadripper 1900X chips for review just yet, but the company did offer some of its own performance comparisons against the Ryzen 7 1800X for perspective. In 1920×1080 gaming (specifically, in the NUMA Game Mode), the 1900X trails the 1800X under Hitman and GTA V, but matches or beats it in Rise of the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. No telling how the chip performs in its default UMA mode, but we'd expect fairly similar results.
Productivity performance is up a bit overall for the 1900X versus the 1800X, though, at least according to AMD. Using a Ryzen 7 1700 as a baseline, the company shows anywhere from a 4% to 10% performance boost over the 1800X from the eight-core Threadripper. We expect that quad-channel memory bandwidth and the extra PCIe lanes available on X399 will be the biggest draws relative to the Ryzen 7 1800X and the AM4 platform, but it is nice to get a little extra performance from the 1900X for the extra money, too.
In a separate bit of welcome news, AMD announced that it'll be bringing bootable NVMe RAID support to the X399 platform in a software update tentatively set for September 25. This free update will let builders boot RAID 0, RAID 1, or RAID 10 arrays of NVMe devices on X399 motherboards. As far as we can tell, this feature will be SSD-vendor-agnostic. Contrast AMD's free and vendor-agnostic approach with the Virtual RAID on CPU, or VROC, technology for Intel's X299 platform, and X399 could be all the more appealing for a high-end desktop.
From the details we can discern so far, VROC works best with a PCIe riser card that gets around the DMI 3.0 interface between Skylake-X CPUs and the X299 chipset. Most X299 boards draw their M.2 connectivity from the PCH, not the CPU. Use the four-M.2-slot card for VROC that Asus demonstrated to PCWorld, though, and you'd better have the 44-lane Core i9-7900X in the socket. 28-lane Skylake-X CPUs (that is to say, anything not a Core i9-7900X or better) generally won't be able to spare more than eight lanes of PCIe from the CPU while also running a graphics card with 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0. Even then, Intel only permits VROC operation in RAID 0. Other modes require an extra-cost dongle. Furthermore, bootable VROC RAIDs require Intel SSDs exclusively. Those are all minor annoyances, but they add up in light of what AMD is offering.
Even if Threadripper's NVMe RAID support isn't managed by the CPU like VROC, AMD's seemingly less fussy approach is another breath of fresh air for the X399 platform. Presuming builders need bootable NVMe RAID from their systems, X399 should be able to put another feather in its cap soon.