AMD’s $850 Threadripper will be half the price of Intel's competing Core i9 | PCGamesN

AMD’s $850 Threadripper will be half the price of Intel's competing Core i9

AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPU

Intel’s 16-core i9 offering is going to be $1699, and it looks like, for the same money, you could buy two 16-core AMD Threadrippers. Or just buy one and get lots and lots of change.

Threadripper might hit a previously unseen bang-for-buck ratio, but which chips out today are the best value for money? Check out our guide to the best gaming CPUs to find out.

Tech site Bits and Chips speculated on Twitter recently that AMD’s upcoming 16-core Ryzen Threadripper CPU could be selling for $849. That’s half the price Intel’s 16-core offering, the Core i9 7960X, will be retailing for. Hell, it’s less than the 10-core 7900X. 

Intel may have won the core-count contest with their biggest HEDT chip boasting 18 cores, but it sounds like AMD may (as is tradition) will beat the blue team on price. Bits and Chips’ sources have revealed a Threadripper CPU will cost around $110-120 to create. Even when you add in the retailer’s margin, shipping, and R&D costs, AMD will still be looking at a pretty profit margin even if they really are able to sell at half the price of the Intel competition.

This would make sense given AMD’s confidence about Threadripper. Their chief technology officer, Mark Papermaster, explained the company’s view at a brokers' conference last night.

“The new i9 announcement, there's not a lot of details,” he said. “It looks to have been pulled in. We know the high-end price point is $1,999. So, it's quite expensive. It does have 18 cores, but I think what we look forward to is just head to head match-ups in performance. Again, we're quite confident in Threadripper and what it will deliver to our consumers.”

He also confirmed AMD are remaining focused on delivering value to their users:  “Consumers want value, they want performance and they want performance per dollar and that's what we're focused on.” That speculative $849 price tag is looking more and more realistic, then.

Intel Core i9 specs

Clock speeds for both Threadripper and Intel’s four most powerful i9 SKUs have yet to be released. At double the supposed price of Threadripper’s 16-core model, the Core i9 7960X will need to be thrashing AMD’s CPU in terms of speed if it wants to have any hope of being competitive.

Bits and Chips go on to speculate that the highest-clocked 12-core Threadripper variant will likely be priced higher than the entry-level 16-core, giving customers a choice between the highest speed or the highest core count. Though that sounds even more wildly speculative than their pricing.

This doesn’t mean red team acolytes will suddenly find themselves with a full wallet, though - the accompanying Threadripper motherboards are likely to be more than a little expensive. The X399 boards have 4,094 pins in the CPU socket, a whopping 2,763 more connections than the 1,331 in their previous AM4 platform, and almost twice as many as on the LGA 2066 socket Intel are using for their X299 boards.

AMD TR4 Threadripper socket

The fiddly components in the socket will also make it a lot easier for the boards to get damaged, resulting in more of them being returned by consumers. This is one of the inherent issues with land grid array (LGA) sockets, with pins in the socket rather than on the chip. You can see from the image of Asus' X399 demo board above the pins are pretty easy to damage.

AMD have previously extolled the virtues of the pin grid array (PGA) setup where cheaper manufacturing means they can pass savings on to the consumer, but the new TR4 LGA socket, with its massive pin-count, is going to be far more expensive.

Gigabyte confirmed to us at Computex last week the X399 motherboards will be a lot pricier than AM4 models. Making such an intricate piece of kit isn’t cheap and getting the manufacturing process right for fiddly new tech is costly. They also explained they’d had some issues with the manufacturing of the new socket because of the huge number of pins involved, though they have now been ironed out.

It’s yet to be seen, however, exactly how much of a financial hit the customer is going to take as a result of these boards, but that's half the fun of new kit, right?

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Dave James avatarfläskpannkaka1 avatar
fläskpannkaka1 Avatar
10 Months ago

Ryzen chips should in theory be considerably better at yields compared to Intel's approach seeing how AMD's architecture can scale complexity and core count of a processor by simply adding more die to it. This is possible due to AMD's interconnect technology 'Infinity Fabric' found both with in each die and between die on an interposer. Intel doesn't have this (at least yet) so if Intel wants to increase core count they are forced to scale the size of each die. That's bad for yield.

So when AMD aims to build a 16 core Threadripper they simply add two 8 core die to the same package. If one die is good while the other bad they simply throw away or bin the bad one but they can still keep the good one and pair it with yet another one that is good. With Intel however when ever they find 8 cores that are good while a few that aren't they are forced to throw away or bin the whole die since all cores are stuck together on this one giant die. This effectively brings down Intel's yield by a lot on their most advanced chips. AMD on the other hand becomes effectively immune to the bad effect of trying to build "larger die" since they don't have to. They simply pair together a bunch of smaller functioning die and make them work together as if they were all part of a monster sized die. This makes AMD's possibilities of keeping cost down on even "monster chips" far beyond what Intel can do.

AMD's has a lot of experience in what to do with an interposer and the possibilities it provides. It plays a big roll in AMD's and Micron's new high bandwidth memory technology HBM. Now it also plays a big roll in AMD's Ryzen architecture coupled with Infinity Fabric. In the future I think it's likely we'll also be seeing this technology coupled with some Infinity Fabric type tech that would enable AMD to build monster GPU's consisting of several smaller (and yield friendly) die tied together (=AMD's announced 'Scalability' regarding the Navi architecture?).

fläskpannkaka1 Avatar
10 Months ago

*Hynix (not Micron regarding HBM)

Dave James Avatar
10 Months ago

It might be wishful thinking to expect the 16-core Threadripper chips to arrive at half the price of Intel's similarly 16-core Skylake-X CPUs, but it's AMD who need to grab the market share.

If the rumoured cost-to-build prices are correct (R&D costs notwithstanding) then AMD can afford to bring these consumer-facing chips out at an Intel-castrating price. Especially as they'll be charging enterprise customers a lot more for the almost identical Naples server CPUs.

And if those cost-to-build prices ARE real, consider the margins Intel could be making on a $2,000 chip!