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Good news for PC power users: AMD and Intel bringing 20+ cores to workstation CPUs

At Computex 2018 in Taipei, Intel and AMD are facing off in the high performance workstation market.

AMD and Intel are showing off their future plans for processors at Computex 2018 in Taipei. Both Intel and AMD are placing a great deal of emphasis on a relatively recent category of CPUs that are architecturally more similar to lower-end server CPUs than high-end workstation CPUs. This design choice brings a double-digit core count to workstation CPUs, which has been rare to find for performance workstation/desktop systems until now.

According to CEO Lisa Su, AMD's second generation Ryzen Threadripper CPUs are "on track" for launch in Q3 2018. The new CPUs will feature either 24 or 32 cores, with two threads per core, for a total of 48 or 64 threads. The CPUs are built on a 12nm process, and have a base frequency of 3.0 GHz, with working turbo frequencies tested at 3.4 GHz, though this may change upon general release. Notably, the second generation models are rated for a 250W TDP, which is a substantial increase from the 180W TDP of the first-generation processors.

While the second generation processors are pin-compatible with first generation motherboards, this additional power draw may complicate using the new processors as drop-in replacements on existing systems, particularly for overclocking. Pricing information for the new systems has yet to be announced, though the current generation Threadripper 1950X is only $999. AMD is also planning to launch the second-generation EPYC server CPUs in 2019. The CPUs are based on the 7mm "Zen 2" process, and are planned for sampling in the second half of this year.

SEE: IT leader's guide to edge computing (Tech Pro Research)

Intel's newest offering, also unveiled at Computex, is a 28-core CPU running at 5 GHz. Details on this are presently somewhat unclear—the base/turbo frequencies were not noted, and the 5GHz figure was the result of an overclock, according to an investigation by Tom's Hardware.

This CPU uses the LGA 3647 socket, which has previously only been used for server-class Xeon CPUs, leading to speculation that this CPU is related to the Xeon Platinum 8180, which retails for $10,000. An Intel executive stated that it would be released in Q4 2018.

The report from Tom's Hardware notes that the cooling system required for this setup was a one horsepower Hailea HC-1000B, which requires over 1000W to operate. They noted that they "were originally going to witness the demo first hand, but there wasn't enough power handy to run both the chiller and the system simultaneously." The TDP of this processor was not disclosed by Intel.

While typical users are unlikely to need this much processing power, these multitasking targeted CPUs are likely to be handy for programmers, as well as content creators. These CPUs are likely to make quick work of multiple VMs or database operations. However, in terms of practicality, standard air coolers—or, at a minimum, normal-sized liquid coolers—are likely to be the solution of choice for most users.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • AMD's second generation Ryzen Threadripper CPUs offer up to 64 threads (32 cores times 2 threads) with standard speeds of 3.0 GHz and turbo speeds of 3.4 GHz.
  • Intel demonstrated a 28-core CPU running at 5 GHz. This was overclocked, and required the use of a 1000W liquid cooling system.

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Image: iStockphoto/scanrail

About James Sanders

James Sanders is a Tokyo-based programmer and technology journalist. Since 2013, he has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.

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