AMD Threadripper 2950X Offers Great Linux Performance At $900 USD

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 13 August 2018. Page 1 of 7. 22 Comments

The embargo has expired now for talking about Threadripper 2 performance figures... First up are our initial Threadripper 2950X Linux benchmarks. In this article are the most interesting metrics for this 16-core / 32-thread processor while in the just-published AMD Threadripper 2990WX Linux Benchmarks are a lot more figures complemented by the 2950X and other CPUs plus power consumption numbers, etc. This article is most useful if specifically focused on the performance of the Threadripper 2950X that comes in at $899 USD.

As covered in last week's preview article, the Threadripper 2900 "2nd Gen" series is based upon AMD's Zen+ technology designed to offer a moderate performance boost over last year's Zen CPUs including the Threadripper 1950X. The Threadripper 2950X officially replaces the 1950X while AMD says the older Threadrippers will still likely be available over the next quarter or two but they have yet to announce any further discounted pricing on these first generation processors.

The Threadripper 2950X is a 16-core / 32-thread part similar to the 1950X while now having a 3.5GHz base frequency and 4.4GHz boost frequency, compared to the former part having a 3.5GHz boost with 4.0GHz boost. Zen+ process improvements allow for the higher clock speeds while still maintaining the 180 Watt TDP level and compatibility with existing AMD X399 motherboards.

The Threadripper 2950X still has a 32MB L3 cache like the 1950X but with the Zen+ architecture we are looking at double digit percentage improvements to the cache latency as well as memory latency over the original Zen CPUs. That's in addition to higher clock speeds with Zen+ thanks to improved transistor performance. Another benefit to Threadripper 2 is native DDR4-2933 support compared to DDR4-2667 on Threadripper 1.

Over the past week and a half, most of my Threadripper 2950X testing has been paired with the MSI MEG X399 CREATION motherboard sent out as part of the AMD press kit. This Threadripper motherboard supports 19 power phases cooled by a heat-pipe-based heatsink for not only handling the Threadripper 2900 series well but to still allow for sufficient overclocking head-room.

The MSI MEG X399 CREATION also has dual Gigabit LAN, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, and all of the other modern bells and whistles of AMD X399 motherboards.

Unique about this motherboard is supporting seven M.2 slots for plenty of NVMe SSD storage potential... Four of the NVMe slots are actually punted out to a PCI Express x16 card included with the motherboard for installing four M.2 cards there while being cooled well with a fan on this MSI XPANDER-AERO card. Three of the M.2 slots are on the motherboard PCB itself. Lots of M.2 NVMe storage potential thanks to 60 PCI Express lanes on these Threadripper processors.

Like the Threadripper 2950X, the MSI MEG X33 CREATION has been working out well under Linux with all core functionality in place. As is sadly the case still in 2018 for newer Intel/AMD motherboards, the onboard sensor voltage/thermal/fan-speed monitoring does not work with the mainline Linux kernel. But for most users that isn't much of an issue with all core functionality being in place including the Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi.

As far as Linux compatibility goes with the Threadripper 2950X (and 2990WX) the only caveat to be aware of is the k10temp driver for temperature reporting of Zen CPUs currently being inaccurate, as already outlined. That patch will come in through the upcoming Linux 4.19 kernel merge window with the hwmon-next updates and then be back-ported to supported stable trees... Long story short, the latest stable point releases within a few weeks should be carrying that patch. For now on recent kernel releases you will see a temperature reported, but it will be 27 degrees higher than the actual temperature due to the Tctl offset.

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