Rumors are rocketing around the ‘net that AMD is preparing to launch a 48-core Ryzen Threadripper 3980X, based on a fake image being passed around on Twitter. It’s a superficially tempting thought, as it offers the prospect of a high-core-count CPU with perhaps slightly higher clocks than the 3990X. But there are multiple reasons to believe this screenshot is untrue. Said fake looks like this:
AMD has already stated it has no plans to launch a 48-core chip and none of the information we’ve uncovered about this screenshot suggests it has any intention of changing them. In the past, AMD has indicated that the mid-tier Threadripper parts don’t tend to sell very well; customers either go for the sweet spot chips or the highest-end parts, but not much in-between. This explains why the company has taken the approach it has with third-generation Threadripper. This time around, there’s an entry-level 24-core part, one “sweet spot” CPU (3970X, 32-cores), and one halo part, the 3990X. The previous entry-level TR CPU, of course, became the 16-core desktop 3950X and bumped down to the top of that product stack rather than introducing the workstation Threadripper family.
The second reason to believe this CPU screenshot is fake is that the author forgot to change the “3990X” moniker in the “Specification” field and left it reading 3990X instead. This isn’t how engineering chips are badged, either. An ES chip might have a seemingly random code in place of its formal product name or a non-standard entry in another field, but you aren’t going to find a 3980X that’s accidentally been badged as a 3990X. Doesn’t happen that way.
Finally, there’s the fact that AMD currently has no reason to release a 48-core Threadripper. A 48-core version of the CPU will have the same scheduling problems that the 3990X does, because Microsoft hasn’t bothered to fix the Windows scheduler yet to support more than 64 logical CPU cores per group (initial reports that Windows 10 Enterprise would outperform Windows 10 Pro did not survive additional analysis). The 3990X offers some real performance improvement over the 3970X and our sample was a great overclocker, but if you aren’t doing the right kinds of applications to benefit from a 3990X, the 3970X will be a better performer.
Right now, the 3990X is a specialty halo part that really only makes sense for a small number of people with specific workload requirements. It’s a technology demonstration as much as a commercial product, and it’s not a product market we’d expect AMD to build out until Windows 10 is more friendly to these high core count configurations. Any CPU above 32C/64T will have the same Processor Group limitation as the 3990X.
None of this means AMD won’t ever release a 48-core chip, but I don’t think we’ll see the firm buffing up its consumer core counts in quite that way just at the moment. A lower-cost 48-core chip is the sort of thing I’d expect AMD to either reserve for a new Threadripper debut or as a competitive response to something Intel had built. Intel isn’t going to be launching any HEDT CPUs with that many cores in the near future either, and AMD has little reason to introduce one now.
Right now, in fact, it looks as if the big fight between 10th Gen Core and AMD’s 7nm Ryzen will be happening in the lower-end and midrange market. AMD now has 4C/8T chips in-market for $ 100, while Intel has new Core i3 CPUs in a similar configuration starting for $ 122. The gains from moving to 4C/8T from 4C/4Tmay not be as large as the improvement from 2C/4T to 4T/4T, but this will be the second significant thread-count upgrade the Core i3 has gotten in a relatively short period of time, courtesy of AMD’s willingness to push the envelope at every point in the desktop market.
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