Why did AMD kill the Threadripper CPUs?

The last time AMD mentioned their Threadripper (non Pro) was at the time they released their Threadripper 39XX CPU’s, which was an update to their 29XX CPU line. The 39XX CPU line was great, had an excellent performance, way less bugs compared to the 19XX line and lots of people wanted to buy the boards and CPU’s.

But then… it almost totally disappeared from the market, and at best – you could buy their Pro variant, but by then, you’ll also need a new motherboard, new memory (you’ll need ECC memory) and all of these costs a lot.

So, why did AMD effectively killed the Threadripper (non Pro) CPU line?

Short answer: market segmentation.

The TR4 (Threadripper, for short) CPU had a unique market place – those in the DYI and small system builders would have buy it and use it, and they would prefer this CPU over Ryzen and most of the time – over Intel’s X series processors. Time and time again, and almost on any benchmark tests, the TR4 beats the Intel competing solution, up to the point that Intel simply gave up and stopped building and selling their Core X CPU’s.

But TR4 market segmentation had a very big problem for the big vendors: Where will the TR4 “sits”? As a desktop CPU? it’s too expensive. As a workstation? it doesn’t have the requirement to considered for this segment (no official ECC Support, no RAS support, no ISV certifications, no enforcement from any hardware company etc.. All in all, HPE, Lenovo and Dell didn’t want to make machines based on the TR4.

Enter Threadripper Pro: This time, Lenovo offered AMD a simple solution: Lenovo would build the solution, get all the certificates and endorsements that are required, and will fill all the requirements that AMD could start selling the TR4 Pro to other IHV’s. The price that AMD will need to “pay” for Lenovo’s services? umm.. nothing much. 6 months exclusive sales of TR4 Pro for Lenovo only. AMD, which has ZERO experience in this field – agreed to Lenovo terms.

With the Theradripper Pro 5000 line, AMD and Lenovo had almost the same deal, just shorter: 3 months instead of 6 months. Since the last deal began at April, On July 10th, AMD will officially sells the TR4 Pro to other IHV’s and later – to anyone.

Will AMD kill the TR4 Pro line any time soon? I Doubt. One of the biggest problem with the non Pro TR4 was that AMD didn’t get the price that they could get with the TR4 Pro and EPYC CPU’s.

According to rumors, Intel is coming back to the HEDT (High End Desktop Segment, the segment which they created the Core-X for and AMD created the TR4 for) with their Rapid Lake based CPU’s, codename ‘Fishhawk Falls’. This time, it will not be based on a desktop chip, but rather based on the Xeon Line, or more specifically – Xeon W-3400 & W-2400. My bet – AMD’s answer will probably be a new TR4 Pro line of CPU’s, with a new board and new chipset (to support PCI’e gen 5 and DDR5 memory).

Consolution: Was AMD decision to kill the TR4 was a right decision? Back then, AMD didn’t have any experience with marketing such CPU’s, the sales volume (according to rumors) was low (since the big IHV’s didn’t want those CPU’s) so I don’t blame  AMD for the decision to kill the TR4. However, going forward, I’m sure that AMD could built in the upcoming TR4 (or maybe the next one) a solution that if the customer is using a low end TR4 CPU’s, he/she will not be able to access high-end features like 1TB memory, ECC Support etc, but if the user would replace his TR4 with a high end TR4 CPU, he could gain those features.

Just for for thought.

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1 comment

  1. Uhh, not quite on the Rumors section and you were all good until there… It’s not even the rumor that you have wrong.

    All of Intel’s HEDT platforms have been Xeon based… since the i7-920 Nehalem, which came out in 2008, until they stopped the line with the 10980XE based on Cascade Lake Xeon dies.
    That’s why Core-X had triple or quad-channel memory when mainstream was limited to dual-channel. The only consumer die used in HEDT was the abomination Kaby-Lake-X quad core that was the budget option to Skylake-X with it’s Xeon based larger core counts.

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