from the competition++ dept.
Intel's initial Skylake-X chips, including the 10-core i9-7900X, have been reviewed:
Core i9-7900X performs well in our productivity, workstation, and HPC tests. The mesh-imposed disparities aren't as pronounced in those benchmarks. But we also have re-run Ryzen 7 1800X benchmarks to think about. Pressure to size up has pushed AMD's flagship down to $460, less than half of what a Core i9-7900X would cost. While Intel may capture the top 1% of high-end enthusiasts with Skylake-X, everyone else has to consider whether Ryzen may be the smarter buy.
Moreover, AMD's upcoming Threadripper CPU has to have Intel worried. How do we know? The X299 motherboards we used needed firmware updates to address very serious performance issues right up until launch. Intel didn't seem nearly as ready for Skylake-X's introduction as we'd expect. A number of Core i9s with even more cores won't be ready until later this year. However, it looks like Intel couldn't get the four-, six-, eight-, and 10-core models out fast enough. They'll ship later this month.
Unfortunately, this story won't be ready to wrap up until we have Threadripper to compare against. Given Core i9-7900X's high price and performance caveats, enthusiasts should probably hold off on a purchase until we know more about the competition, even if Skylake-X looks like a bigger step forward than Intel's past HEDT designs.
Intel's Skylake-X-based Core i9-7900X weighs in with 10 Hyper-Threaded cores and architectural enhancements that benefit many workstation-class workloads, such as rendering and content creation. The processor struggles in some games compared to its predecessor, failing to match the [10-core] Core i7-6950X in several titles.
While the i9-7900X is generally an improvement over Intel's previous 10-core high end desktop (HEDT) chip, the i7-6950X, Skylake-X runs hotter and is significantly more expensive than its 8-core AMD Ryzen counterparts. Under full load, the i9-7900X used about 149 W, while the previous-gen i7-6950X uses just 111 W and AMD's Ryzen 1800 X is at 92 W. AMD's Threadripper chips will have more PCIe lanes than Intel's Skylake-X line. Ryzen also supports ECC RAM while Intel disables it to differentiate its HEDT chips from workstation/business Xeons. The TDPs of AMD's 10-16 core Threadripper and Intel's 12-18 core Skylake-X CPUs have not been confirmed.
For about a quarter of the price of the i9-7900X, you can get the Ryzen 5 1600X, which often holds its own against Intel's monster chip.
AMD's Threadripper 1950X (TR 1950X?) will have 16 cores for $1,000, and the Threadripper 1920X will have 12 cores for $800. They will be available in early August:
Last night out of the blue, we received an email from AMD, sharing some of the specifications for the forthcoming Ryzen Threadripper CPUs to be announced today. Up until this point, we knew a few things – Threadripper would consist of two Zeppelin dies featuring AMD's latest Zen core and microarchitecture, and would essentially double up on the HEDT Ryzen launch. Double dies means double pretty much everything: Threadripper would support up to 16 cores, up to 32 MB of L3 cache, quad-channel memory support, and would require a new socket/motherboard platform called X399, sporting a massive socket with 4094-pins (and also marking an LGA socket for AMD). By virtue of being sixteen cores, AMD is seemingly carving a new consumer category above HEDT/High-End Desktop, which we've coined the 'Super High-End Desktop', or SHED for short.
[...] From what we do know, 16 Zen cores at $999 is about the ballpark price we were expecting. With the clock speeds of 3.4 GHz base and 4 GHz Turbo, this is essentially two Ryzen 7 1800X dies at $499 each stuck together, creating the $999 price (obviously it's more complicated than this). Given the frequencies and the performance of these dies, the TDP is likely in the 180W range; seeing as how the Ryzen 7 1800X was a 95W CPU with slightly higher frequencies. The 1950X runs at 4.0 GHz turbo and also has access to AMD's XFR – which will boost the processor when temperature and power allows – in jumps of +25 MHz: AMD would not comment on the maximum frequency boost of XFR, though given our experiences of the Ryzen silicon and previous Ryzen processor specifications, this is likely to be +100 MHz. We were not told if the CPUs would come with a bundled CPU cooler, although if our 180W prediction is in the right area, then substantial cooling would be needed. We expect AMD to use the same Indium-Tin solder as the Ryzen CPUs, although we were unable to get confirmation at this at this time.
[...] Comparing the two, and what we know, AMD is going to battle on many fronts. Coming in at $999 is going to be aggressive, along with an all-core turbo at 3.4 GHz or above: Intel's chip at $1999 will likely turbo below this. Both chips will have quad-channel DRAM, supporting DDR4-2666 in 1 DIMM per channel mode (and DDR4-2400 in 2 DPC), but there are some tradeoffs. Intel Core parts do not support ECC, and AMD Threadripper parts are expected to (awaiting confirmation). Intel has the better microarchitecture in terms of pure IPC, though it will be interesting to see the real-world difference if AMD is clocked higher. AMD Threadripper processors will have access to 60 lanes of PCIe for accelerators, such as GPUs, RAID cards and other functions, with another 4 reserved by the chipset: Intel will likely be limited to 44 for accelerators but have a much better chipset in the X299 for IO support and capabilities. We suspect AMD to run a 180W TDP, and Intel at 165W, giving a slight advantage to Intel perhaps (depending on workload), and Intel will also offer AVX512 support for its CPU whereas AMD has smaller FMA and AVX engines by comparison. The die-to-die latency of AMD's MCM will also be an interesting element to the story, depending exactly where AMD is aiming this product.
There's also some details for Ryzen 3 quad-cores, but no confirmed pricing yet.
Meanwhile, Intel's marketing department has badmouthed AMD, calling 32-core Naples server chips "4 glued-together desktop die". That could have something to do with AMD's chips matching Intel's performance on certain workloads at around half the price.
Previously: CPU Rumor Mill: Intel Core i9, AMD Ryzen 9, and AMD "Starship"
Intel Announces 4 to 18-Core Skylake-X CPUs
Intel Core i9-7900X Reviewed: Hotter and More Expensive than AMD Ryzen 1800X for Small Gains
AMD Epyc 7000-Series Launched With Up to 32 Cores