What is Threadripper? (Explained)

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What is Threadripper

What is Threadripper?

Threadripper refers to the processor line from the Ryzen family designed by AMD and intended for use in workstation computers.

First released in August 2017, they are typically built on the Zen microarchitecture using the TR4 socket type.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Threadripper processors come with a lot of cores and threads which make them a powerhouse of performance.
  • These CPUs are packed with features good for use in digital content creation, gaming, streaming, 3D rendering, recording, Ultra HD video editing, Computer Aided Design or CAD and more.
  • Considered to be the future of power-user builds, the Threadripper can even eliminate the requirement for dual-system setups.
  • Available in consumer desktop variants, users now can unleash the power of the Threadripper that were reserved earlier for workstation computers.
  • There are different models and variants of these powerful processors available that come with several useful features.

Understanding Threadripper

What is Threadripper

Ryzen Threadripper refers to the family of x86, 64-bit, high-performance desktop and workstation processors.

These processors are quite powerful and can compete with the Xeon and Core i7 processors from Intel.

It is the number of threads in these processors that make them so powerful and capable. Multiple CPU dies are used to achieve this by using a technique called simultaneous multithreading.

The Threadripper processors normally use similar dies as the regular Ryzen CPUs but the difference lies in their performance characteristics.

The 2nd generation of Threadripper uses dual dies and the 3rd generation uses quad dies. These dies are connected to each other via AMD Infinity Fabric, which is a high-performance interconnect.

It helps these multiple dies in the CPU to perform as an organized unit, which eventually ensures that data is transferred at the lowest latency possible.

Codenames

These specific processors can be identified easily by their unique codenames. Here they are, along with a few other details about their respective architectures:

  • In August 2017, Threadripper processors with the codename Whitehaven and built on the Zen microarchitecture, sTR4 socket type, and 14 nm or 14 LPP process were released, with the number of cores ranging between 8 and 16.
  • In August 2018, Threadripper processors with the codename Colfax and built on the Zen+ microarchitecture, sTR4 socket type, and 12 nm or 12 LP process were released, with the number of cores ranging between 12 and 32.
  • In November 2019, Threadripper processors with the codename Castle Peak or CPK and built on the Zen 2 microarchitecture, sTRX4 socket type, and 7 nm or N7 process were released with the number of cores ranging between 24 and 64.
  • In March 2022, Threadripper processors with the codename Chagall and built on the Zen 3 microarchitecture, sWRX8 socket type, and 7 nm or N7 process were released with the number of cores ranging between 12 and 64.

Models

There are different models of Ryzen Threadripper processors available, and all of them come with different features. Here they are all summarized for you.

The 1900-Series (Zen) models come with the following features:

  • Quad-channel memory controller with up to 512 GiB in each channel
  • 60 PCI Express 3.0 lanes of which 48 are for GPUs and 12 are for I/O
  • Thermal Design Power or TDP of 125 watts, 155 watts, and 180 watts
  • Several Instruction Set Architecture support such as SMM, FPU, NX, MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, AES, AVX, FMA3, AVX2, and SHA
  • AMD-V and AMD-Vi, SMEP, Precision Boost, XFR, and 2-way SMT technology support
  • Level 3 cache size, ranging from 16 MiB to 32 MiB

The 2900-Series (Zen+) models come with the following features:

  • Quad-channel memory of up to 512 GiB per channel
  • 60 PCI Express 3.0 lanes of which 48 are for GPUs and 12 are for I/O
  • Thermal Design Power or TDP of 180 watts or 250 watts
  • Several Instruction Set Architecture support such as SMM, FPU, NX, MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, AES, AVX, FMA3, AVX2, and SHA
  • AMD-V and AMD-Vi, SMEP, Precision Boost 2, Precision Boost Overdrive, XFR, and 2-way SMT technology support
  • Level 3 cache size, ranging from 32 MiB to 64 MiB
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The 3900-Series (Zen 2) models come with the following features:

  • Quad-channel HEDT or High End Desktop Double Data Rate or DDR4 memory of up to 3200 MHz and up to 256 GiB with eight 32-GiB Unregistered Dual Inline Memory Modules or UDIMMs
  • WS octa-channel DDR4 3200 MHz with support for RDIMM, LRDIMM, UDIMM and 3DS RDIMM memory up to 2 TiB with eight 256 GiB LRDIMMs or 3DS DIMMs
  • HEDT I/O with 64 PCIe Gen 4.0 lanes of which 8 lanes are reserved for the TRX40 chipset
  • WS I/O with 128 PCIe Gen 4.0 lanes of which 8 lanes are reserved for the WRX80 chipset
  • Thermal Design Power or TDP of 280 watts
  • Several Instruction Set Architecture support such as SMM, FPU, NX, MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, AES, AVX, FMA3, AVX2, and SHA
  • AMD-V and AMD-Vi, SMEP, Precision Boost 2, and 2-way SMT technology support
  • Level 3 cache size of 64 MiB, 128 MiiB, and 256 MiB

The 5900-Series (Zen 3) models come with the following features:

  • Octa-channel DDR4 3200 MHz with support for RDIMM, LRDIMM, UDIMM, and 3DS RDIMM memory up to 2 TiB with eight 256 GiB LRDIMMs or 3DS DIMMs
  • I/O with 128 PCIe Gen 4.0 lanes of which 8 are reserved to link the WRX80 chipset
  • Thermal Design Power or TDP of 280 watts
  • Several Instruction Set Architecture support such as SMM, FPU, NX, MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, AES, AVX, FMA3, AVX2, PCLMULQDQ, SHA, and VAES
  • AMD-V and AMD-Vi, SMEP, Precision Boost 2, and 2-way SMT technology support
  • Level 3 cache size of 64 MiB, 128 MiiB, and 256 MiB

What is Threadripper Used for?

The Threadripper processors of AMD are mainly used in the enthusiast and workstation spaces and others where a preposterous core count is required such as 3D rendering, coding, animation, graphic design and other CPU-intensive tasks.

These processors are designed for those particular mainstream users, such as engineers, architects, and 3D modelers, who need the following:

  • To work on CPU-intensive tasks
  • To handle heavy-threaded applications
  • To do extensive multitasking
  • A higher level of performance
  • More scalability to hone their creative potential
  • Freedom in their hands

Ideally, hardware-demanding workloads, multi-tracking and intense editing software, and complex tasks in a professional setting will benefit a lot from using a Threadripper rather than for daily computing tasks by an average user.

This powerful processor is also used for video processing by several video game developers, animation studios, render farms, colleges, and others.

Can Threadripper Run without GPU?

Well, it may, but it all depends on the processor model. For example, an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X will be able to handle it all entirely in software without needing a dedicated or even an integrated Graphics Processing Unit.

It is a fact that the GPUs are designed to handle millions of calculations needed to play a game and a CPU is not able to handle more than a few at once, but the Threadripper can cope with most of the gaming needs.

How Much RAM Can a Threadripper Support?

Once again, it all depends on the model of the Threadripper processor as well as the specifications of the motherboard in question. Usually, any average Threadripper will support a memory of up to 256 GB.

This is because most of the consumer motherboards that support a Threadripper CPU seem to support a maximum amount of RAM of up to 256 GB.

Ideally, when a motherboard is designed to support up to 256 GB of RAM maximum, you will not get any additional benefit even if you install a 512 GB RAM module.

If you want to get more RAM, you will need to upgrade the motherboard and even get a better AMD Threadripper Pro processor.

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These processors have motherboards that are designed to support a memory of up to 2 GB.

Does Threadripper Need Fast RAM?

Well, just as it is with most CPUs, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors will also work better with faster RAM. Ideally, you will be better off if the module clocks a speed ranging between 2666 MHz and 3200 MHz.

However, different models of Threadrippers may have different official ‘Maximum system memory speed’ specifications.

Therefore, it is better to check it out before you overclock and void the warranty.

Going for a RAM faster than the official spec would hardly bring any notable difference in the performance and speed.

And, when you go for a RAM with a higher frequency, it may make the system unstable and you may have to mess around with the BIOS.

Ideally, on any Threadripper 39xx, you can use a multiple of four DIMMs in the appropriate slots.

Normally, if you use two DIMMs, the RAM access speed will be reduced dramatically to half.

And also make sure that it is of the optimal speed, which is twice the clock speed of Infinity Fabric.

Why Do People Buy Threadrippers?

People typically buy the AMD Threadripper processors due to their high range of core count which offers high performance, high efficiency and high clock speeds.

These CPUs are highly powerful and support multitasking while performing intensive, complex and professional computing jobs.

There is hardly any task that the Threadripper cannot accomplish and people buy them for their sheer power.

These processors can be overclocked to get the most out of them while doing some complex modeling tasks such as climate modeling.

People also buy them for their advanced features.

Depending on the generation or model, the Threadripper processors come with useful features such as:

All these features allow using these processors for high-end tasks such as:

  • Software development
  • Machine learning
  • CGI or Computer Generated Imagery
  • Distributed computing

Therefore, these processors are high in demand among professional content creators, professional gamers, scientists, engineers and others.

How Hot Does Threadripper Run?

It all depends on the type of job you put the Threadripper into and for how long you use it. Ideally, for any normal workload a CPU running at a speed in excess of 3 GHz would reach a temperature ranging between 45 degrees and 48 degrees centigrade.

However, when the total clock rate of all the cores jumps to more than 4 GHz it may reach an average temperature of 62 degrees centigrade.

Usually, the ideal temperature for a Threadripper in an idle state is 40 degrees Celsius and it may reach 68 degrees under normal workload for a long time.

Can Threadripper Be Used for Mining?

Yes, you can use a Threadripper for mining. For example, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X, which is equipped with 32 cores and 64 thread processors, is just right for mining.

The larger cache size of 144 MB on the CPU also makes it a good choice for mining crypto coins.

Ideally, crypto mining puts a huge strain on the graphics units and the Threadripper can handle it all with élan to save the GPU.

It will increase the mining potential and also the chances to get your invested money back in less than a year by using these high-end, powerful, and faster chips.

It will need very few threads for that, but will still deliver faster results. The main reason behind that is that the Threadripper processors come with a large amount of Level 3 cache.

This helps in storing the dataset in the cache, which eventually expedites the crypto mining process.

All the threads in the Threadripper will not be used for the mining purpose, which also accelerates the process eventually.

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For example, if it uses 2 MB for each thread, typically only 16 threads will be needed for the 32 MB L3 required for mining, and even keep one for general system operation.

On the other hand, an Intel i9 HEDT chip, in comparison, usually comes with about 14 MB of L3, which, mathematically, equates to roughly 7 threads.

Therefore, it is the huge bank of Level 3 cache classes on the AMD Ryzen Threadripper series of processors that gives them a significant edge while mining any crypto coin by running fewer threads but offering very, very high efficiency.

This is because the necessary data will reside in the cache.

Since the use of cache is very important, it makes the AMD Threadrippers a natural and a good choice due to the large Level 3 cache they come with. It allows the CPU to run crypto algorithms very fast.

Looking at the math, if you even make just $150 a day, after removing the power cost, by using a Threadripper for mining crypto coins only, it isn’t a bad return at all.

Is Threadripper Good for Editing?

Right off the bat, an AMD Ryzen Threadripper seems to be a much better choice for both editing and gaming purposes.

There are quite a few good reasons to use Threadripper for editing jobs. These are:

  • These processors typically come with a much faster base clock speed, which is the same as Turbo speed.
  • It also comes with a larger and faster cache as well due to Infinity Fabric, which helps with these kinds of computing tasks.
  • The larger number of cores and threads are better and enough if you do not use GPU acceleration for motion graphics work and after effects.

Threadripper vs i9

  • The AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors seem to lag a bit behind the Intel Core i9 CPUs in terms of boost speeds.
  • The systems that run on a Ryzen Threadripper are typically not as cool, quiet and cheap in the long run as those systems running on an Intel Core i9 processor.
  • The Threadripper processors use solders and the heat spreaders in them are large enough, but in comparison, the Intel Core i9 uses normal thermal interface material to fasten together the CPU die and the metal heat spreader.
  • Overclocking is relatively easier with the Threadripper CPUs in comparison to the Intel Core i9 processors.
  • The Threadripper chips usually have bracket adapters that support most liquid cooling solutions, but the Intel Core i9 does not.
  • The threadripper CPUs come with higher base clock speeds but the Intel Core I9 processors usually have a higher boost clock speed which makes them a bit more powerful in comparison.
  • The AMD Threadrippers typically come with a larger cache size than the Intel Core i9 processors making them more useful and faster than the latter in comparison.
  • AMD does not offer as wide a variety with their Threadripper CPUs as Intel does with their Core i9 processors.
  • The Threadripper processors also lack in power efficiency when compared with the Intel Core i9 processors on the same parameter.
  • The Threadripper processors are much better at handling multithreaded applications and programs than the Intel Core i9 processors.
  • The performance of the Threadripper processors is not as high as that of the Intel Core i9 processors when it comes to single-threaded games and applications.

Can Threadripper Be Air Cooled?

Yes, the Threadrippers can be air cooled. It is not only possible but also quite practical.

However, it is always recommended that you add a second fan so that you do not experience any issues due to the temperature reaching its maximum limit.

Conclusion

With a higher number of cores and threads and a larger cache memory, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors can complete almost any task thrown at them.

It is quite powerful and fast to support multitasking and experts will find it easy to experience a workstation type experience with its scalability and freedom offered.

About Taylor

AvatarTaylor S. Irwin is a freelance technology writer with in-depth knowledge about computers. She has an understanding of hardware and technology gained through over 10 years of experience.

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