AMD introduces Threadripper 3960X and 3970X with 24 and 32 cores

AMD announces the third generation of Threadripper processors. For the time being, it concerns two models, with 24 and 32 cores, and prices of 1399 and 1999 dollars. The processors will end up on the new TRX40 platform and will be released at the end of November.

The Threadripper processors in the 3000 series, like the Ryzen 3000 processors, are based on the Zen 2 architecture with 7nm cores. Both Threadrippers have a TDP of 280W and a turbo clock of up to 4.7GHz when using one core. The 3970X is the top model, with 32 cores and 144MB cache. Below that, AMD positions the 3960X with 24 cores and 140MB cache. Moving to the Zen 2 architecture, the new Threadrippers are clocked higher and have much more cache than their predecessors.

According to AMD, both the Threadripper 3970X and 3960X consist of four CCDs and one I/O die. With the top model with 32 cores, all 8 cores of the CCDs are active and with the processor with 24 cores, 6 cores per CCD are in use. AMD has not yet released anything about the arrival of a model with 64 cores. There have been rumors about this for a long time and AMD also makes Epyc server processors with that many cores. In addition, the naming of the new Threadrippers seems to leave room for a 3990X top model with more cores.

It is not possible to place the new Threadripper processors in existing X399 motherboards. AMD has made a new TRX40 chipset and the socket has also been adjusted. With the new motherboards, the connection between the processor and the chipset consists of eight PCI-e 4.0 lanes. With X399 motherboards, that’s four PCI-e 3.0 lanes. The TRX40 boards therefore offer four times as much bandwidth between the CPU and chipset. AMD says it has made that adjustment with a view to the long term. That could mean that subsequent Threadripper generations can also be used in the TRX40 boards. The manufacturer has not yet made any concrete statements about this.

With the TRX40 platform, the total number of PCI-e lanes will also increase to 88 pieces, of which 72 are usable. The X399 platform for the previous generation of Threadripper processors had a total of 76 lanes, 68 of which were available. In both cases, this concerns the combination of the CPU and chipset. Both the second and third generation Threadripper CPUs have 64 PCI-e lanes, but the TRX40 chipset has more lanes than the X399 variant. TRX40 motherboards have support for quad-channel memory and the chipset can also handle ECC memory.

The new motherboards have a TRX4 socket. It has the same dimensions as the TR4 socket of X399 boards and the number of pins is also the same with 4094 pieces. However, it is not possible to use older Threadripper processors on the new motherboards. This is probably due to the changes in the communication between the CPU and the chipset. However, existing TR4 coolers can be mounted on the motherboards.

AMD will not release new Threadripper processors with 16 or 12 cores, because such core numbers are also available with the Ryzen processors as of this year. AMD does say that the Threadripper 2950X and 2920X will remain in the range. Those are the models with 16 and 12 cores from last year, which are still made at 12nm. AMD keeps these in the range for users who don’t need a lot of cores, but are looking for a platform that can handle large amounts of memory and offers many PCI-e lanes.

The new 3970X and 3960X will be released on November 25 at suggested retail prices of 1999 and $1,399. This means that the introduction prices are equal to those of the 32- and 24-core models from last year. AMD will compete with the processors against Intel’s Cascade Lake-X processors, which were announced in early October. Intel halved the prices compared to the previous generation. Intel’s top model, the Core i9-10980XE, is now cheaper than both of the new Threadrippers at a suggested retail price of $979. Intel’s most expensive hedt processor, however, is stuck at 18 cores and is still made at 14nm. Also, Intel’s Cascade Lake-X platform does not have pci-e 4.0 support and the maximum memory size is limited to 256GB.

Update 16:25: Added clarification on number of pci-e lanes.

Processor Architecture cores/threads Clock. / turbo (GHz) cache (total) tdp price
Threadripper 3970X Zen 2 32/64 3.7 / 4.5 144MB 280W $1999
Threadripper 3960X Zen 2 24/48 3.8 / 4.5 140MB 280W $1399
Threadripper 2990WX Zen+ 32/64 3.0 / 4.2 64MB 250W Unknown
Threadripper 2970WX Zen+ 24/48 3.0 / 4.2 64MB 250W Unknown
Threadripper 2950X Zen+ 16/32 3.5 / 4.4 32MB 180W € 979,-
Threadripper 2920X Zen+ 12/24 3.5 / 4.3 32MB 180W €416.51
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