We all know that Intel has plans to bring the fight back to AMD in the high-end CPU market. AMD's Ryzen Threadripper parts are better performance wise in many usage scenarios than Intel's high-end processors. The only place that Threadripper gives up the win to Intel is in some older games or games that don't benefit as much from multiple threads. If you want to know more about the Threadripper parts, you can check out our full review of the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and 1920X parts.
Since we all know that Threadripper is a hit, fans might be interested to hear some of the backstory about how Threadripper came to be. Forbes interviewed several folks at AMD specifically about Threadripper including AMD Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Anderson along with Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Marketing John Taylor, AMD communications team member Sarah Youngbauer, and James Prior AMD Senior Product manager.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Threadripper is that there was no massive team or mandate from on high to make the beast. It was a small team of AMD employees who wanted to build a chip they would want in a high-end computer.
Youngbauer said, "It’s not really a story of roadmaps and long-term planning or huge R&D budgets - it’s a lot more personal than that and stemmed from a skunkworks project and a small group of AMD employees who had a vision of a processor they’d really want in terms of a high-performance PC."
"They worked on it in their spare time and it was really a passion project for about a year before they sought the green light from management, which is quite unusual – it was something they really cared about."
The end result after several years of spare time work was Ryzen Threadripper and what has to be a case of heartburn over at Intel. Prior says that all the planning that ultimately led to Threadripper started in 2015 where a gap in the internal roadmap between Ryzen and EPYC was noted. Work that was progressing on Ryzen and EPYC was used for Threadripper and Jim Anderson joined AMD from Intel and was instrumental in green lighting the project.
Prior said, "In fact, even though it was akin to a pet project up to this point and had no official business plan, the actual feasibility study that took place later concludes it was one of the best-planned products they’d seen in a long time."
Anderson says that the original timeline would have seen Threadripper launch in 2018, but he asked the team to hit a summer 2017 launch. Anderson said, "I’ve never actually told anyone this, but Threadripper never had a business plan – that might raise some eyebrows, but we were building it because we knew it was awesome, because we could and to make it best product we could, even the name had to be big."
Taylor points out that before May 2017, no one knew about Threadripper and then enthusiasts were fawning over it in their hands by August 2017. One interesting tidbit is that Anderson says he wanted the Threadripper retail packaging to be illuminated, but that would have made the team miss their summer 2017 launch so no lighting was used. Reviewers did end up getting packaging that glowed when they opened the box.
Another interesting tidbit is that Threadripper was originally the code name for the project, but the team liked it so much that the name made it to official status. Ryzen and Threadripper have certainly done well for AMD allowing it to edge out Intel in CPU sales at e-tailer Mindfactory in Germany, while maintaining profits. Ryzen sales have also helped push AMD shares to some of its highest prices in years.