AMD's second-generation Ryzen Threadripper CPUs revealed

Second-gen smarts come to AMD HEDT

AMD is taking the wraps off its second-generation Ryzen Threadripper CPU lineup this morning, and the company is upping the ante in the war for multithreaded superiority on the high-end desktop. Two new chips for workstation and content creation use—the Threadripper 2990WX and Threadripper 2970WX—put more cores than ever before in AMD's X399 motherboards, while the Ryzen Threadripper 2950X and 2920X bring the bounty of second-generation Ryzen improvements to users who need both multi-threaded grunt and single-threaded performance from their high-end systems.

All second-generation Threadripper CPUs incorporate the extra smarts we've already seen in second-generation Ryzen parts for Socket AM4. Those improvements include Precision Boost 2 and its fine-grained control over boost clock speeds as work occupies more cores and threads on the chip, plus the benefits of XFR 2 for sustained performance when builders choose a heavy-duty cooler for use with a Ryzen CPU. Second-generation Threadrippers also inherit the baseline performance improvements offered by the move to GlobalFoundries' 12LP fabrication process.

clock (GHz)
 Peak boost
clock (GHz)
cache (MB)
cache (MB)
TDP Suggested
Threadripper 2990WX 32/64 3.0 4.2 16 64 250 W $1799
Threadripper 2970WX 24/48 12 64? $1299
Threadripper 2950X 16/32 3.5 4.4 8 32 180 W $899
Threadripper 1950X 16/32 3.4 4.2 8 32 $999
Threadripper 2920X 12/24 3.5 4.3 6 32 $649
Threadripper 1920X 12/24 3.5 4.2 6 32 $799
Threadripper 1900X 8/16 3.8 4.2 4 16 $549

AMD says Threadripper WX CPUs are for users that always want more—more cores, more threads, more memory capacity—and whose workloads are bound primarily by the number of threads they can get in a workstation. (WX doesn't officially stand for anything, but the Radeon Pro family of workstation graphics cards use it to mean as much, so I'm rolling with "workstation.") AMD broadly describes this group as "creators and innovators." This shouldn't surprise any readers of TR's high-end desktop CPU reviews, but AMD doesn't envision these chips powering gaming rigs.

Instead, the WX-series parts are about beating Intel's high-end desktop parts in workloads like rendering where performance can generally scale with every available thread. In evergreen benchmarking favorites like Cinebench, POV-Ray, Corona, and Blender, the $1799 2990WX delivers double-digit speedups over the $1879-at-e-tail-right-now Core i9-7980XE. Even if Intel cuts its latest Extreme Edition's price tag back to parity with the 2990WX, the AMD chip still appears to be in a great competitive position for those who can take advantage of its every core and thread. The Threadripper 2990WX is available for pre-order today and will hit e-tail shelves on August 13.

For gamers who work hard during the day and want decent performance off the clock, AMD is refreshing the Threadripper X-series family with two new parts. The Threadripper 2950X is an evolution of the popular Threadripper 1950X. It now offers a single-core boost speed of 4.4 GHz—the highest of any Ryzen CPU so far—and a 3.5-GHz base clock, although we'll be keen to see how Precision Boost 2 actually affects the delivered all-core boost clock this chip can sustain.

Although the Threadripper 2950X likely won't unseat the Core i7-8700K as the fastest gaming CPU around, AMD's internal numbers paint a competitive picture for it versus the Skylake-X Core i9-7900X. In Cinebench, Handbrake, and 7-Zip, AMD believes the 2950X will beat out the i9-7900X, while the company's gaming benchmarks suggest the 2950X is just 6% behind the i9-7900X on average across 11 games at 1920x1080. We think anybody shopping for a 1920x1080 gaming CPU in this price bracket is out of their minds, but if you insist on making bad decisions, the Threadripper 2950X at least doesn't seem to punish you much for massively unbalancing your graphics-card-and-monitor budget.

The 2950X also slices $100 off the 1950X's price tag. At $899, this second-generation Ryzen part promises i9-7900X-beating multithreaded performance in at least some workloads—a value proposition that catapulted the original 1950X to a TR Editor's Choice award on the strength of its performance and the value of the X399 platform. We will, of course, reserve judgment until we've been able to subject all of these chips to our own test suite, but the rosy competitive picture the 1950X first painted doesn't seem likely to change much. The Threadripper 2950X will arrive at e-tail August 31.

AMD is also teasing two chips that will launch later in the year: the 24-core, 48-thread Threadripper 2970WX and the 12-core, 24-thread Threadripper 2920WX. It might seem strange for AMD not to launch a full-stack Threadripper lineup today, but the company says the Threadripper 1950X was its best-selling Threadripper in the year that chip family has been on the market. Assuming that data is correct, it makes sense for AMD to launch its most powerful (and most expensive) Threadripper yet today and follow up with the in-between parts later. The 2970WX and the 2920X will arrive sometime in October.

AMD has also introduced a new packaging design for the second-generation Threadripper family. Before we pulled the Threadripper 2990WX and Threadripper 2950X out of their packages and slathered them in thermal paste, we made a video about unboxing those chips and about some of the other hardware AMD sent over to assist us with our testing. Have a watch:

Stay tuned for full benchmark results from these chips soon.

Tags: CPUs

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