AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X review

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The Threadripper Gen2 Processor Series

Threadripper Pinnacle Ridge Die

Being part of the Ryzen family, Threadripper processors are just that; CPUs based upon Ryzen architecture. While a lot of IO changes have been made to facilitate it, basically on-die you'll spot up-to four 8-core Ryzen processors, much like the Ryzen 7 2700X has two CCxes, each with four cores. When we go all the way back to one CCX, each of them have 4 cores enabled. For the 12-core parts that means per 4-core cluster (CCX), one core is disabled and that means these processors are set up in a 3+3+3+3 (6+6) fashion. Other than that, again, these are physically similar to the 8-core Ryzen design, it is the very same die that is used, however binned for high performance. Last year's eight core ZEN architecture was called 'Summit Ridge', the updated revision 12nm Zen+ series dies got the development name 'Pinnacle Ridge'. In April 2018, AMD now launches new SKUs in the Ryzen 2000 series. Among them, the Ryzen 7 2700 and 2700X. The 2000 numbering in the series is obviously a euphemism and recognition point for generation 2 of the Zen architecture-based processors, now called Zen+. AMD is using the top 5% of binned ASICs. So as the 8-core Ryzen die is similar, that also means and invokes corresponding caches. And before you ask, yes, Threadripper processors are all SMT threaded (acronym is Hyper-threading) and yes, you get that sweet unlocked multiplier as well. For the Ryzen Threadripper series, processors up-to 16 cores have a 180W TDP and, up-to 32 cores, a 250 Watt TDP. 

The Ryzen Processor Family

On the market, you will spot Ryzen series 3, 5, 7 and now Threadripper processors. It’s plain and simple and, as always, that works out as the best way to understand product positioning compared to the Intel line-up. We’ll go into more detail on the next few pages, of course. 

AMD ProcessorArchitectureCoresThreadsFrequency base/XFRTDPUSD
Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX Pinnacle Ridge 32 64 3.0 - 4.2 GHz 250W 1799
Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX Pinnacle Ridge 24 48 3.0 - 4.2 GHz 250W 1299
Ryzen Threadripper 2950X Pinnacle Ridge 16 32 3.5 - 4.4 GHz 180W 899
Ryzen Threadripper 1950X Summit Ridge 16 32 3.7 - 4.0 GHz 180W 999
Ryzen Threadripper 2920X Pinnacle Ridge 12 24 3.5 - 4.3 GHz 180W 649
Ryzen Threadripper 1920X Summit Ridge 12 24 3.5 - 4.0 GHz 180W 799
Ryzen Threadripper 1900X Summit Ridge 8 16 3.8 - 4.0 GHz 140W 549
Ryzen 7 1800X Summit Ridge 8 16 3.6 - 4.1 GHz 95W 499
Ryzen 7 2700X Pinnacle Ridge 8 16 3.7 - 4.3 GHz 105W 329
Ryzen 7 1700X Summit Ridge 8 16 3.4 - 3.9 GHz 95W 399
Ryzen 7 2700 Pinnacle Ridge 8 16 3.2 - 4.1 GHz 65W 299
Ryzen 7 1700 Summit Ridge 8 16 3.0 - 3.75 GHz 65W 329
Ryzen 5 2600X Pinnacle Ridge 6 12 3.6 - 4.2 GHz 95W 229
Ryzen 5 1600X Summit Ridge 6 12 3.6 - 4.1 GHz 95W 249
Ryzen 5 2600 Pinnacle Ridge 6 12 3.4 - 3.9 GHz 65W 199
Ryzen 5 1600 Summit Ridge 6 12 3.2 - 3.7 GHz 65W 219
Ryzen 5 1500X Summit Ridge 4 8 3.5 - 3.8 GHz 65W 189
Ryzen 5 2400G Raven Ridge 4 8 3.6 - 3.9 GHz 65W 169
Ryzen 5 1400 Summit Ridge 4 8 3.2 - 3.45 GHz 65W 169
Ryzen 3 1300X Summit Ridge 4 4 3.2 - 3.9 GHz 65W 129
Ryzen 3 2200G Raven Ridge 4 4 3.5 - 3.7 GHz 65W 99
Ryzen 3 1200 Summit Ridge 4 4 3.1 - 3.45 GHz 65W 109

Unlocked & loaded

Let me again make it clear, all Threadripper processors are unlocked. The motherboards need a chipset that is unlocked as well though, but the X399 covers all of that. Be warned though, all-core overclocks on so many cores... let's just say we advise you to stick to proper water-cooling and let XFR2 do its thing. Nonetheless, we'll look into a bit of tweaking later on in this article of course.


Precision Boost 2 and XFR2

The X and WX models are a little more special in the sense that they will have a higher base and boost clock frequency as well as extended frequency range (XFR). Basically, you have precision boost, your standard turbos that each of the cores can handle. However, on top of that is XFR, if the processor is under optimal conditions like (for example) liquid cooling, it may clock a bit higher than your maximum turbo clock frequency. It isn't just temperatures though, X model processors are binned. This means that the processors are tested on ASIC quality and then sorted from good to better and often will clock higher on the XFR range and yes, X models could also be more easy to tweak as well. ZEN+ based CPUs will feature Precision Boost 2 and XFR 2, both are improved to offer better performance, specifically in tasks that have several light threads, games for example! You all know what the media wrote about 1080p performance last year. This is such an example where AMD could benefit from XFR2. Intel has had the lead in some game titles, mostly due to higher frequencies with its CPUs. Precision Boost 2 should help Ryzen processors to perform better in tasks that have several light threads, such as games. XFR2 is now available on all CPU cores, rewarding you with up to 15% more boost performance.


Improved DDR4 memory support

The new Threadripper generation 2 processors obviously offer quad-channel support. The motherboards can be paired with 8 DIMMs set up in a single, dual and quad channel configuration. AMD will support the standard JEDEC SPD timings and frequencies at 2133/2400/2667 and now also 2933 MHz. That's standard reference JEDEC configurations, motherboard manufacturers will support 3200 MHz and higher frequencies. But that will solely be dependent on the motherboard partners. While that is not in the same ballpark as what Intel is doing, a nice 2933/3200 MHz kit with CL16 latency would certainly be sufficient for all your bandwidth needs. All Ryzen processors really like fast memory, hence we recommend 2933 or 3200 MHz single rank CL14 kits.  

StoreMI technology

One interesting new feature that AMD offers is StoreMI, which lets you mingle multiple SSDs and conventional hard drives into a single virtual volume. This volume will automatically assign files based on their storage speed necessities. A combination of an HDD and, say, NVMe SSD, apps can load up to three times faster compared to HDD loading. AMD StoreMI will, by design, pair your most frequently used files and assign them to the faster storage unit for peak performance. On top of that, you can also assign an up-to 2GB of RAM cache, for mega-fast data. You do actually take away a 2GB partition of your DDR4 system memory.


A user end example could be games, many of you guys have an SSD for the OS and frequently accessed applications. Games often, due to install-size, end up on an HDD. Here's where StoreMI comes into play, you can leave your game installed on your HDD, but combine it with an SSD into a single, faster, virtual disk. This way, the most frequently accessed data will be loaded over the fused storage, and this enhances load time. Realistically though, in a time where the HDD is slowly phasing out and SSDs / NAND storage is becoming the norm, we're not sure how relevant and compelling this feature will be for the more mainstream to the enthusiast crowd. It's a free feature with any series X399 chipset though and for those with large HDDs, this might be a really lovely alternative.

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