AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2920X And 2970WX Review: Lower Cost, Many Core Beasts

AMD 2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper 2920X And 2970WX - All You Need To Know

When AMD launched its initial salvo of 2nd Generation Ryzen Threadripper processors back in August, it consisted of the beastly 32-core / 64-thread Threadripper 2990WX and powerful, but more svelte, 16-core / 32-thread Threadripper 2950X. Those processors represent the pinnacle of their respective line-ups; the 2990WX is AMD’s flagship workstation processor and the 2950X is the top HEDT CPU.

Although they were all announced at the same time, the processors we’ll be showing you here today, the 2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX and Threadripper 2920X, are just now being made available. As their model numbers suggest, the 2970WX is a step down from the flagship 2990WX workstation processor and the same is true of the 2920X in relation to the 2950X. These two processors are also priced markedly lower, but they are both quite powerful as well.

Take a peek at their main features and specifications below and they we’ll dig in a little deeper, talk about some new software tricks AMD recently revealed, and see how the 2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX and Threadripper 2920X perform...

threadripper 2920 2970 style
AMD 2md Gen Ryzen Threadripper 2920X & 2970WX
Specifications & Features
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2920X AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX
TDP 180W 250W
Core Count 12 Cores, 24 Threads 24 Cores, 48 Threads
Core Topology 6 Cores each, In Dies 0,1 6 Cores each, In Dies 0,1,2,3
L2 Cache Configuration 512K Per Core (6MB total) 512K Per Core (12MB total)
L3 Cache Configuration 16MB Per Die (32MB Total) 16MB Per Die (64MB Total)
Base Frequency 3.5GHz 3.0GHz
Boost Frequency 4.3GHz 4.2GHz
PCIe Gen3 Lanes 64 64
Memory Channels Quad Quad
Extended Frequency Range 2 (XFR 2) Enabled Enabled
Precision Boost 2 Enabled Enabled
Transistor Count ~9.6 Billion ~19.2 Billion
Die(s) Size 2 x 213mm2 4 x 213mm2
AMD Suggested Pricing $649 $1,299

As we mentioned in our launch coverage, all 2nd Generation Ryzen Threadripper processors have a number of features and aspects in common. All of the processors are manufactured using the same 12nm process and feature AMD’s Zen+ microarchitecture. Although they are second generation CPUs, these processors are not based on the true, next-gen Zen 2 microarchitecture – that will be coming sometime next year.
threadripper 2920 2970 chips 2
All of the 2nd Generation Ryzen Threadripper processors feature an enhanced boost algorithm that came with Zen+ that is more opportunistic and can boost more cores, more often. They also offer higher-clocks, lower-latency, and are somewhat more tolerant of higher memory speeds, though DDR4-2933 remains the max “official” memory clock, without overclocking.

If you’d like a refresher on what makes AMD’s Ryzen processors tick, and all of the enhancements that came with Zen+, we suggest checking out a handful of past articles. Our launch coverage of the original Ryzen and Threadripper processors lays the foundation for what we’ll be showing you here today, and our coverage of AMD’s 2nd Generation Ryzen and Ryzen Threadripper processors explains what Zen+ has to offer and how all of the technology is brought together in these multi-die Threadripper processors. We are only going to cover the 2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX and Threadripper 2920X at a high-level here but if you want to read more about the nuts and bolts, definitely spend some time checking out our past coverage. The Threadripper 2970WX in particular (like the 2990WX) has a topology that forces some trade-offs, because two of its die don’t have any memory attached.
threadripper 2920 2970 chips
When workloads spill over to the die without memory attached, performance can be negatively impacted. In our initial coverage of the 2990WX, there were multiple instances where running in legacy compatibility mode on only half of the cores, resulted in significantly improved performance. In an effort to minimize the need for users to manually make tweaks to optimize Threadripper WX-series processor performance, however, AMD has come up with an interesting new addition to its Ryzen Master software called Dynamic Local Mode. With DLM enabled, a service that runs in the background will analyze workloads and automatically schedule threads that will benefit from having locally-attached memory to the cores / dies connected to system memory. Once all of the kinks are worked out, DLM will likely become a part of Threadripper’s platform drivers, but for now it’s a toggle available in the latest version of Ryzen Master, which should be made publicly available today. We’ve included a suite of benchmark scores on the Threadripper 2970WX with DLM enabled, to show you just how it can impact performance.

ryzen master dlm
Ryzen Master v1.5 with Dynamic Local Mode

Before we get to the numbers, we’ve got some more 2nd Gen Threadripper specifics to get through. As you may already know, AMD selects the best processor dies for its 2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper processors. Like the originals, only the top 5% of dies make into 2nd Gen Threadrippers, in an attempt to ensure its flagship – and most expensive -- consumer processor line-up delivers a good experience. All of the processors are also multi-chip modules that leverage multiple 8-core die, with each die consisting of two, quad-core CCXes (Compute Complexes). The 12-core 2920X has two active, 8-core dies, each with 1 core disabled per CCX, while the 24-core 2970WX has four active, 8-core dies, each with 1 core disabled per CCX.

AMD's Ryzen Threadripper processors feature 512K of L2 cache per core (6MB total on the 2920X and 12MB on the 2970WX), quad-channel memory controllers (2+2), and are outfitted with 64 integrated PCI Express Gen 3 lanes. The massive amount of IO connectivity in Threadripper is something AMD has been vocal about, not only because it’s more than Intel offers in its Core-X family, but because the total number of integrated lanes will not vary from Threadripper to Threadripper, whereas lower-end Core series processors may offer fewer lanes than their higher-end counterparts. The Ryzen Threadripper 2920X has a 180W TDP, while the 2970WX has a beefier 250W TDP.

cpuz 2920 1  cpuz 2920 2
2970 cpuz 1  2970 cpuz 2
2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper 2920X and 2970WX CPU-Z Details

CPU-Z details for both the Threadripper 2920X and 2970WX are shown above. You’ll notice that the only thing that changes from CPU to CPU is the core count and the total amount of L1 and L2 cache. Instruction and feature support is identical, and matches the other 2nd Generation Ryzen processors, which is expected, considering they all leverage the exact same die. As for their clocks, the Threadripper 2920X has a base clock of 3.5GHz and max turbo frequency of 4.3GHz, while the 2970WX has a 3.0GHz base clock and boosts up to 4.2GHz.
threadripper pacakge 2
2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper Packaging

Like the originals, AMD did some fun stuff with its 2nd Generation Ryzen Threadripper packaging. The chips come packed inside large containers made of a rigid foam, with a faceted center section and transparent windows, front and back. The container comes apart to reveal a stylized plastic case, which holds the actual processor inside. There’s also a small box tucked away at the bottom that contains a basic lit-pack, an AMD Ryzen Threadripper decal, a mini-Torque wrench (with a Torx tip) for installing the CPU into its socket, and a metal bracket, which is compatible with all Asetek-built AIO liquid coolers that have circular pump / cold plate assemblies – basically the same tool and mount bundle as the originals.

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