Lenovo Unveils First 8-Channel Threadripper Pro Workstation
Lenovo is announcing a new Ryzen Threadripper workstation that’s also doubling as a debut of a heretofore unannounced AMD chip. The ThinkStation P620 is based on the previously unknown BXB-B chipset and yes, it offers 8-channel memory support. Up to 1TB of RAM can be installed, equal to what Intel offers with its Xeon W product family. (A previous version of this post reported 512GB due to a discrepancy in Lenovo’s provided documents. 1TB is the correct metric).
The ThinkStation system doesn’t skimp on graphics horsepower either, supporting either 2x Quadro RTX 8000 or 4x Quadro RTX 4000 GPUs. Up to 20TB of storage is supported. Lenovo is also very proud of the ThinkStation P620’s PCIe 4.0 support, pointing out that this is the only PCIe 4.0 workstation you can currently buy. The truth is, that might sell a few systems all on its own, though users who truly need the bandwidth are uncommon. 10Gbit Ethernet is baked in. Wi-Fi is provided via the Intel 9260 AC.
As for the 3995WX, it’s a 64-core chip with a 4.0GHz Turbo mode, compared with the 3990X’s 4.3GHz. Lenovo didn’t provide us with the chip’s base clock, but they refer to building a custom heatsink and cooling solution with AMD specifically for this system. It seems unlikely that AMD would lower the base clock dramatically, so I’m thinking 2.6GHz on the low side, and possibly the same 2.9GHz as the 3990X.
Workstation Ryzen Has Finally Arrived
AMD has been covering the workstation market with Threadripper in an unofficial sort of way. But Threadripper, while powerful, didn’t win any Tier 1 OEM workstation deals from Dell, HP, or Lenovo. Where Threadripper shows up, it’s typically as a gaming or consumer enthusiast system (at least, from these companies).
The Lenovo P620 is the first concrete sign we’ve seen that AMD has penetrated the last of the four major PC markets (mobile, workstation, server, and desktop). The line between “workstation” and “high-end consumer desktop” hasn’t been entirely erased, but the distinction is far blurrier today than it was a few decades ago.
This is where AMD has rather cleverly positioned itself. The major difference between the 3995WX and the 3990X is the amount of memory bandwidth available. The 3990X has four channels, with 16 CPU cores stacked up behind each (effectively), while the 3995WX brings that ratio back down to 8 cores per memory channel.
It’s genuinely unclear how much this matters; AMD’s official position is that it doesn’t impact that 3990X’s scaling very much in the majority of workloads and that the reason for poor scaling on the 3995WX is due to the lack of proper scheduler support in Windows for more than 64 threads at a time. Our own research backed this up, but an 8-channel rig offers the ability to test them head-to-head.
More than anything, this launch speaks to the fact that Intel’s high-end customers aren’t going to wait for it to adopt standards. PCIe 4.0 support and 64-core single-socket processors have both made it to servers, desktops, and workstations courtesy of AMD.
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