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Aug 15 2018

AMD Launches “Fastest Desktop Processor in the World”

18 months after the release of its first Ryzen™ desktop CPU and 15 months after the debut of its 32-core EPYC server counterpart, Intel's No. 1 challenger in traditional hardware markets is at it again: AMD kicked off this week with the release of its second-generation Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX, the world's first 32-core desktop processor that can handle 64 threads and delivers clock speeds of 3.0 GHz in standard and 4.2 GHz in "boost" (aka turbo) mode.

Hailed as "the embodiment of pure multi-core processing, purpose-built for prosumers who crave raw computational compute power to dispatch the heaviest workloads" by AMD's PR team , the new model relies on the 12 nm "Zen+" microarchitecture for x86 CPUs and reportedly offers up to 53% better multi-thread performance and up to 47% higher rendering performance than Intel's 18-core flagship Core i9-7980XE. That's according to in-house performance tests during which the Threadripper 2990WX achieved an average of 5099.3 points in the Cinebench R15 benchmark, with Intel gear trailing far behind at an average 3335.2 points. Target groups include software developers, CGI and FX artists, CAD/CAE specialists, gamers, streamers and all types of enthusiasts who "crave raw computational compute power to dispatch the heaviest workloads."

Technically, the advancements are not just the result of higher base and boost clock speeds. As AMD tells it, the company's engineers have further refined technologies that have made up the so-called Ryzen Feature Set since the first batch of processors was released:

  • Unlike most conventional CPUs, the Ryzen family came and comes with a built-in, officially recognized overclocking feature called Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) that increases processor voltages and clock speeds based on the number of active cores; for last year's original Threadripper models, this meant a voltage increase of 300 MHz if five or more cores were active. In its second installment, PBO now leverages initially unused extra thermal and electrical capacities to further enhance the boost effect without passing the power and/or temperature thresholds ingrained in the processor architecture. However, while this sounds good in theory, the improvements connected with Precision Boost 2 may appear a little less fascinating when you look at actual test results: In Cinebench R15, turning on PB2 will get an extra 13% of performance out of the Threadripper 2990WX as opposed to when it's turned off.
  • While PBO and the PB2 should be effective enough in most cases, there are always occasions where one might wish to be able to push the CPU even further. To tackle those challenges, AMD developed its "eXtended Frequency Range" (XFR) technology, which basically helps to pump up multi-thread performance beyond the levels attainable with PBO/PB2 alone if enough cooling power is available. second-generation Threadrippers come with an improved version dubbed XFR2.
  • Additional features include an expanded version of AMD's overclocking console Ryzen Master Utility, which now allows for fast core detection on both an on-die and per-CCX basis as well as one-click work optimization, while users with X399 chipsets and TR4 sockets now have access to StoreMI technology that enables adequately configured high-capacity HDDs to deliver "SSD-like read speeds."

The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX is available immediately for $1,799. The 16-core Threadripper 2950X will arrive on August 31 at a price of $899. 12- and 24-core models are scheduled for release in October. As one might expect, these performance-optimized CPUs are not exactly energy savers – 12- and 16-core Threadrippers require 180 watts, and their bigger cousins clock in at 250 watts.


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