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AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro
AMD has made significant gains in all areas of CPU computing since the emerge of the all-new Zen architecture in March 2017. Subsequent generations of products have proliferated into the desktop, mobile and server spaces, offering ever-more performance that has left rival Intel playing catch-up.
Ryzen is the brand name for processors covering mobile and desktop segments, while EPYC serves the datacentre and server through specific optimisations of the underlying Zen architecture. AMD's mainstream Ryzen chips for gaming PCs run up to an impressive 16 cores and 32 threads on the Ryzen 9 5950X. However, true power users can unlock the full might of the Zen architecture by opting for Ryzen Threadripper chips that house up to an astonishing 64 cores and 128 threads for incredible performance in workstation-type applications that rely on CPU horsepower first and foremost.
AMD duly released the Ryzen Threadripper 3000 series processors in late 2019. Designed to be compatible with the existing TRX40 chipsets housing previous 'rippers, users could upgrade to the latest and greatest by simply updating the motherboard's BIOS.
Though impressive in their own right, AMD spied an opportunity for creating another set of Threadripper processors primed for users desiring the extra memory capacity, robustness, and PCIe expandability of EPYC chips but without moving their hardware ecosystem over to a full-on server setup. Dubbed Threadripper Pro, AMD released them in July 2020 to large-scale customers such as Lenovo in what is known as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) form, meaning smaller companies or users couldn't buy them individually.
That situation changes now as AMD releases four chips for the general public, enabling them to build bespoke cutting-edge workstations. The following table summarises how the Pro processors line up against their non-Pro brethren which have been available for a while.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper product range
|Model||Cores / Threads||TDP||L3 Cache||Base Clock||Turbo Clock||Process||PCIe (usable)||DDR4||Capacity||Channels||Package||Price|
|AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro|
|Threadripper Pro 3995WX||64 / 128||280W||256MB||2.7GHz||4.4GHz||7nm||120, Gen 4||Quad 3200||2048GB||8||WRX8||£4,999|
|Threadripper Pro 3975WX||32 / 64||280W||128MB||3.5GHz||4.2GHz||7nm||120, Gen 4||Quad 3200||2048GB||8||WRX8||£2,499|
|Threadripper Pro 3955WX||16 / 32||280W||64MB||3.9GHz||4.3GHz||7nm||120, Gen 4||Quad 3200||2048GB||8||WRX8||£1,049|
|Threadripper Pro 3945WX||12 / 24||280W||64MB||4.0GHz||4.3GHz||7nm||120, Gen 4||Quad 3200||2048GB||8||WRX8||£899|
|AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Gen|
|Threadripper 3990X||64 / 128||280W||256MB||2.9GHz||4.3GHz||7nm||56, Gen 4||Quad 3200||256GB||4||TRX4||£3,499|
|Threadripper 3970X||32 / 64||280W||128MB||3.7GHz||4.5GHz||7nm||56, Gen 4||Quad 3200||256GB||4||TRX4||£1,799|
|Threadripper 3960X||24 / 48||280W||128MB||3.8GHz||4.5GHz||7nm||56, Gen 4||Quad 3200||256GB||4||TRX4||£1,279|
Key changes between AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro and Threadripper
AMD introduces 12C24T and 16C32T models in the Pro range that aren't present in the three-chip non-Pro 3rd Gen line-up. Adding these models gives buyers greater flexibility for their specific workloads that oftentimes run on software licensed on a per-core basis.
Pulling over features present on the EPYC processors, AMD enables the Pro platform to access 120 PCIe 4.0 lanes for best-in-class expandability for storage and add-in accelerators, which is more than double present on non-Pro. This is made possible by AMD switching out to a WRX8 chipset-based motherboard. The same platform also takes advantage of another EPYC-like feature: the provision for eight memory channels and 2TB of capacity alongside support for RDIMMs. Compare this with the four channels and 256GB maximum on regular Threadripper.
This hugely expanded memory footprint, compatibility, and bandwidth is also key for workstation applications with large datasets that ordinarily may not fit into regular Threadripper's wheelhouse. Further supporting the nature of the intended purpose for Pro - professional studios, engineers, data scientists, et al - each chip is backed by what is known as AMD Pro Technology, whereby there's enhanced hardware-baked protection against memory attacks together with a robust manageability feature set for simplified deployment, imaging, and management.
So, if Threadripper Pro equals EPYC's core-and-thread count and also matches it on memory channels and PCIe lanes, why bother with the latter? Good question, but AMD is well aware of the potential problem of stepping on the dearer EPYC's shoes. The true server chips still offer double the memory capacity, up to 4TB, and are available as a two-socket solution for even greater performance from one motherboard.
Professional content creators can now leverage the fastest, most versatile workstation processor ever created, with unmatched core counts for multi-threaded workloads that rival competing dual socket solutions and high frequency single threaded performance for lightly threaded tasks. This unique, full sepctrum compute capability enables reduced render times, more creative iterations, faster simulation solving, quick assembly rebuilds and smooth interactivity with 3D assets.
AMD's internal benchmark numbers suggest that the Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3995WX is a performance monster where it matters most, downing even a dual Xeon Platinum 8280 - costing £20,000+ - in a couple of high-profile applications.
Given the price difference between Pro and non-Pro parts based on the same core-and-thread count, and the added expense of the WRX80 motherboards over widely-available TRX40, potential customers really do need to fully utilise the various Pro-specific benefits for the platform to make sense. Got a dataset that takes up 1TB and needs to be in-memory for the best performance? Need to attach a large number of PCIe 4.0 devices to the motherboard, or need Pro-level security features? Each of these is a good enough reason to consider Ryzen Threadripper Pro, budget permitting, whilst the option of 12- and 16-core models is useful for where the extra features rather than processor muscle are more important in the overall proposition.
Offering the perfect bridge between premium Ryzen Threadripper and server-focussed EPYC, AMD's decision to release four Threadripper Pro chips to all customers is a wise move. Scan Computer offers a range of AMD Threadripper Pro processors, compatible motherboards, and is one of only five companies in Western Europe certified by AMD to build Ryzen Threadripper Pro-based systems.