This is a tidbit that really should have been in the Threadripper 3960X/3970X review that already ran. Then again, there are still a few graphs I’m still trying to stuff into that review. In my defense, I wound up writing an investigation of MATLAB performance yesterday, which means I ran out of time for tidying up some review bits, one of which is the fact that AMD isn’t finished playing “Let’s kick Intel in the head.”
AMD is launching a 64-core Threadripper CPU in 2020.
AMD’s willingness to give the TDP is significant in this context. The Epyc 7742 is a 64C/128T chip with a 2.25GHz base clock and a boost clock of up to 3.4GHz in a 225W TDP. Pushing the TDP up to 280W is AMD’s way of indicating that the CPU will be capable of hitting higher overall clocks than chips like the 7742.
The EPYC 7H12 may be the best fit for comparing against this part. That CPU is a 2.6GHz base frequency / 3.3GHz boost core, with a 280W TDP. This might seem to be moving in the wrong direction — typically chips higher in the stack have a higher clock, not a lower one — but it looks as though what AMD has done here is bin its 64-core CPUs for the parts that can run at the highest frequency within the lowest power envelope for all-core boost, rather than emphasizing maximum available lightly-threaded performance on a handful of cores. Like Intel, AMD gives TDP for base frequency, not boost frequency, so pulling base clock up from 2.25GHz to 2.6GHz represents a 1.15x increase in effective maximum clock for a 1.27x increase in TDP. That’s a pretty solid ratio for a 64-core CPU.
We know two other things about this CPU:
1). Intel may have no realistic response
2). It’s not going to be cheap.
To the first point: Intel could theoretically challenge Threadripper 3970X by creating an enthusiast platform around LGA3647 and yanking its largest Xeons into the consumer market. Intel is highly unlikely to make this move — it would be losing far more revenue than it gained — but there is a product Intel manufacturers that could, at least theoretically, be positioned against the latest Threadrippers. Intel doesn’t have a product in-market at all that can field 64 cores; the Cascade Lake-AP servers that Intel sells are sold as assembled units, not as chips or even individual boards. Intel has talked about launching 48-core socketed parts next year based on Cooper Lake, but those chips are not expected in the HEDT market at this point in time, and 64 is still quite a bit larger than 48.
As for point #2, AMD has already introduced the 3970X at a $2,000 price point. This implies that the 3990X will be at least $4,000, and could well be more depending on whether AMD intends to hang a ring premium on it.
Kind of stretching the meaning of "HEDT". To me, this is a server/workstation CPU. Can't imagine cooling this thing, or even the 48 core ones. Just thinking of what it would take to cool it on an all core usage run of Prime95. I wouldn't want one.