AMD will bring its eight-channel Threadripper Pro systems to the retail market, opening up the segment. Previously, the eight-channel Threadripper Pro variant was only available to OEMs (we’ve got a review coming on one of these Lenovo systems, with comparison against the 3990X).
AMD’s Threadripper and Threadripper Pro platforms are both designed for professionals who need more horsepower than a typical desktop platform can provide. Where AMD’s top-end Ryzen 9 5950X offers 16 cores, a TR or TR Pro system can pack as many as 64. Additionally, Threadripper Pro uses the WRX80 chipset, which packs up to eight memory channels (regular TR tops out at four):
Multiple motherboard manufacturers are bringing boards to market to support the new CPU. The Supermicro M12SWA-TF is an E-ATX motherboard with no fewer than six full-sized PCIe 4.0 slots, four PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots, and a pair of U.2 slots. The M.2 slots support RAID 0, 1, and 5, while the U.2 support RAID 0 and 1. There’s also an ASpeed AST2600 BMC controller for IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) access.
The board is capable of supporting either three dual-slot or two triple-slot GPUs. The back panel shows an array of USB 3.2 Gen 2, USB 3.2 Gen 1, dual ethernet, and an ALC4050 HD sound solution from Realtek, alongside an ALC1220. The ethernet ports are driven by an Aquantia AQC113C (10GbE) and an Intel I120-AT (2.5GbE).
There are also boards coming from Asus and Gigabyte, but since we don’t have any information on those but leaks, so we’ll refrain from commentary for now. AMD has not yet announced any Threadripper CPUs powered by the Ryzen 5000 series, but such CPUs will likely arrive later in the year when Milan is ready. Historically, AMD tends to refresh its server platform before it launches new Threadripper chips. We don’t expect higher core counts this year, but we’ll get the full benefit of Zen 3’s 1.19x IPC improvement when they do. Meantime, if you’ve got a workload you know can benefit from more memory channels than a standard Threadripper offers, Threadripper Pro will be available in the retail channel later this year.
We don’t talk about the workstation market as separate from desktop, because it’s harder to get numbers broken out specifically in this area. The fact that Intel cut its Cascade Lake Xeon prices back in 2019 after several years of standing firm in the face of Threadripper’s upping of the ante suggested that the chip giant had become more concerned about its competitive standing. Overall desktop sales dropped sharply in 2020 as shipments both boomed and shifted towards laptops, so it’s not clear how this has impacted the overall workstation space.
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