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.