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AMD ‘Threadripper’ CPU eyes Intel’s Core i9 with 16 cores and 32 threads

CHIPMAKER AMD has confirmed plans to release a powerful consumer and workstation microprocessor called ‘Threadripper’ – a 16-core, 32-thread monster intended for the most enthusiastic of enthusiasts, and workstations for applications requiring heavyweight multi-core, multi-threaded microprocessors.

The company had been planning to unveil the chip at the Computex trade show at the end of May but, following rumours that rival Intel is planning to release a Core i9 microprocessor in a bid to maintain the interest of enthusiasts and PC builders, the company has revealed details about it two weeks early.

While Intel’s Core i9 will feature 12 cores, 24 threads and would be largely based on Skylake, with two lesser Core i9s based on the Kaby Lake micro-architecture, AMD’s Ryzen, according to slides presented at the firm’s analyst event on Tuesday, could conceivably scale to 64-cores and, well, goodness knows how many threads.

Either way, the forthcoming Threadripper should easily out-perform Intel’s current 10-core Core i7-6950X, which costs just over £1,500, and AMD CEO Lisa Su re-asserted how AMD engineers today are now working two generations ahead.

AMD general manager Jim Anderson, meanwhile, said that “Ryzen Threadripper is targeted at the absolute ultra high-end of performance in desktop”, adding that the five biggest PC makers in the world had also all signed up to release Ryzen-based PCs in time for summer.

Anderson also confirmed plans to produce microprocessors aimed for the laptop market later this year (presumably in time for Christmas) that would integrate Vega GPU cores with Ryzen. “Ryzen will have integrated, on-die Vega graphics cores,” said Anderson. Ryzen microprocessors targeted at the boring business PC market, meanwhile, will be dubbed Ryzen Pro.

AMD’s analyst day also revealed more about the company’s plans to extend the Zen architecture far outside of the high-end PC sphere in which it has already acquired a foothold, and into the data centre. Its Vega GPU technology will also form an integral part of this assault.

This will be tied together by what the company describes as its EPYC server architecture, formerly known as ‘Naples’. EPYC, noted Su, which “allows you to connect more GPUs directly to the CPU than any other solution in the industry”.

As expected, Vega will finally make an appearance in June, so you only have a month to save up for the graphics card of your dreams, when the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition will be become available. That will be later in June, rather than sooner, however. µ

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