WHILE AMD's Radeon Vega launch on Sunday turned out to be a bit of a ho-hummer, the company has raised a few eyebrows by tossing out a new Ryzen Threadripper CPU, the 1900X, aimed at anyone with £500-£600 to burn on a new CPU, or who might be considering a Ryzen 7 1800X.
Like the Ryzen 7 1800X, the Ryzen Threadripper 1900X offers eight cores and 16 threads. It also has a 4MB level 2 cache and 16MB level 3 cache - again, like the top-of-the-range Ryzen 7.
But the Ryzen Threadripper 1900X offers a slightly faster base clock speed of 3.8GHz (compared to 3.6GHz with the Ryzen 7 1800X) with a 4GHz boost and, more important, 64 PCIe lanes, twice the number of Ryzen 7, as well as quad-channel DDR4 memory.
That's all for a list price of $549, just $50 more than the Ryzen 7 1800X.
The number of PCIe lanes, in particular, makes it an attractive alternative to Intel's similarly priced Kaby Lake X and Skylake X Core i7 and entry-level Core i9 CPUs due to what's been described as Intel's policy on PCIe 'lane rationing'.
Intel's $339 Kaby Lake-X Core i7-7740K, for example, supports 16 PCIe lanes due to limitations in Kaby Lake's design.
The Skylake-X architecture, though, has no such limitations. Yet, only the $999 10-core Skylake-X is offered with the full complement of 44 PCIe lanes, while the $389 six-core Intel Core i7-7800X and $599 eight-core Intel Core i7-7820X versions have been deliberately scaled back to just 28 lanes. This is not for technical reasons, suggest reports, but for the purpose of 'market segmentation', AKA 'making you pay more'.
The 64 PCIe lanes on the Ryzen Threadripper 1900X will enable power users to plug-in a couple of fast NVMe SSD drives and pair them with a couple of graphics cards without bottlenecking - something the equivalently priced Intel offerings can't do at anywhere near the same price because of PCIe lane restrictions.
While the Ryzen Threadripper 1920X and 1950X will be available from 10 August, you'll have to wait until 31 August if your budget runs no further than a Threadripper 1900X.
AMD is also planning to release Threadripper 1900, 1920 and 1950 parts, which are expected to be a little less in price than their X-suffixed counterparts. But precise details about these have yet to be formally released.
After a busy six months, AMD now has a clear and consistent line-up of CPUs that are not only competitive in terms of performance, for the first time in years, but also typically offer more cores, threads and all-around grunt than similarly priced Intel parts, pound for pound.
That line-up, furthermore, not only directly addresses particular market segments, from entry-level to workstations, but encourages potential buyers to just spend a little more than they were planning to in order to get a better CPU.
Like the look of a Ryzen 3 1200 at £105? Just a mere £20 or so more will get you a Ryzen 3 1300X with about 15 per cent more performance. Another £30 or so will get you a Ryzen 5 1400 and another 12 per cent or so in performance - and so on, all the way up to the £950 top-of-the-range Ryzen Threadripper. µ
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