From the edi­tor

With great brand­ing and amaz­ing multi-threaded power, AMD’s lat­est CPU line-up is leav­ing In­tel look­ing a lit­tle lost, says Ben Hard­widge


TIt’s like gutrip­per or skulls­masher. It’s not just a higher num­ber in front of the Ryzen brand

hread­rip­per! It’s like the name of a weapon from a Fight­ing Fan­tasy book, or a highly de­struc­tive needle­work tool, de­pend­ing on your per­spec­tive. I pre­fer the for­mer, though, and not just be­cause we in­ter­viewed Games Work­shop founders and Fight­ing Fan­tasy au­thors Steve Jack­son and Ian Liv­ing­stone this month (see p86).

Threadripper. It’s like gutrip­per or skulls­masher. It’s not just a higher num­ber in front of the Ryzen or Core brand. It’s a power tool that gives you huge multi-threaded com­put­ing power, rip ping through threads like anSDS drill through Play-Doh.

Like a dual-GPU card, it’s es­sen­tially two Ryz en die sin a sin­gle pack­age, linked­byAMD’s In­fin­ity Fab­ric, and it in­stantly solves the prob­lem of try­ing to squeeze loads of cores into a sin­gle die. In­tel’s Core i9-7900X might be more el­e­gant, in terms of both size and engi­neer­ing, but Threadripper does an even bet­ter job by sim­ply us­ing good old-fash­ioned brute force.

You can read all about Threadripper on p19, but the gist is that it’ s enor­mously pow­er­ful, and while the 16- core ver­sion costs just un­der a grand, that’s quite an amaz­ing price for a gen­uine 16-core CPU. If you do an aw­ful lot of highly par­al­lel com­put­ing work, whether it’s 3D ren­der­ing, dis­trib­uted com­put­ing or, like my­self, you do a lot of video en­cod­ing with Hand­brake, Threadripper will do it much quicker than any other cur­rent desk­top CPU.

Just a few months ago, In­tel was still charg­ing over £1,400 for a 10-core CPU, and it’s had to re­spond al­ready. The Core i9-7900X was in­tro­duced at just un­der £1,000, but it’ s al­ready been brought down to £860 inc VAT to com­pete with Threadripper. It’s not just pric­ing that AMD has got right though. It’ s given the whole ecosys­tem some proper thought in a way that seems to have passed by In­tel this year.

X 399 moth­er­boards( seep 46) might be ex­pen­sive, but you can ac­cess all the main fea­tures with any Thread rip­per chip, fromthe8-core1900X(seep14) tothe16-core1950X(seep20). That means you get ac­cess to all 64 PCI-E lanes with ev­ery CPU, and you also get full quad- chan­nel mem­ory. Com­par­a­tively, you have to buy a 10-core In­tel CPU to ac­cess the full 44 PC I-E lane son an X 299 motherboard, and In­tel has made X 299 dou­bly con­fus­ing by in­tro­duc­ing need less quad­coreKa by Lake CPUs to the plat­form, which only have dual-chan­nel mem­ory con­trollers, as well as the full-fat Sky­lake-X chips.

Most peo­ple don’t need a 16-core CPU, of course. In fact, for gam­ing, you’ll be bet­ter off with a quad- core CPU, such as the Core i7-7700K, that can hit a higher clock speed. But with Threadripper and Ryzen, AMD has cap­tured nearly the whole CPU mar­ket now. There’s no point in an en­thu­si­ast buying an un­locked Kaby Lake Core i3 or Core i5 CPU – Ryzen 3 and 5 of­fer more power for less money, and while the In­tel chips can be quicker in games, the dif­fer­ence is prac­ti­cally neg­li­gi­ble com­pared with a GPU up­grade. Like­wise, Threadripper has now stormed in at the top end, and In­tel looks a lit­tle lost.

It isn’ t all good for A MD. Its Ra de onRXVe ga chips( seep 30) are okay but ba­si­cally un­der­whelm­ing. Plus, In­tel will also be re­turn­ing fire with more cores in fu­ture LGA2066 CPUs, as well as 6-core Cof­fee Lake main­stream chips soon, but at the mo­ment, AMD is sit­ting pretty. Ryzen and Threadripper are great brands for great prod­ucts. Mas­sive par­al­lel com­put­ing work­load? That sounds like a job for, dad ad a ah, Threadripper! It’s re­ally good to have you back, AMD. Ben Hard­widge is the edi­tor of Cus­tom PC. He likes PCs, heavy metal, real ale and Warham­mer 40,000.

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