AMD to end Threadripper Pro 5000 drought for non-Lenovo PCs

As the House of Zen kills off consumer-friendly non-Pro TR chips

A drought of AMD's latest Threadripper workstation processors is finally coming to an end for PC makers who faced shortages earlier this year all while Hong Kong giant Lenovo enjoyed an exclusive supply of the chips.

AMD announced on Monday it will expand availability of its Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5000 CPUs to "leading" system integrators in July and to DIY builders through retailers later this year. This announcement came nearly two weeks after Dell announced it would release a workstation with Threadripper Pro 5000 in the summer.

The coming wave of Threadripper Pro 5000 workstations will mark an end to the exclusivity window Lenovo had with the high-performance chips since they launched in April.

While Lenovo's exclusivity window for Threadripper Pro 5000 parts alone would have been irksome to competing PC makers, what made matters worse was that smaller companies — those we call system integrators — were experiencing a severe shortage of last-generation Threadripper 3000 CPUs in the first half of 2022, as The Register reported in April.

This imbalance of supply between Lenovo and other companies hurt the competition for AMD-based workstations, resulting in fewer options for buyers. This was a big deal in the workstation world because AMD has largely been seen as the go-to choice for high-end desktops, thanks to processors with faster and better capabilities than Intel's chips.

Among the system integrators receiving Threadripper Pro 5000 in July are US-based Maingear, Puget Systems, and Velocity Micro, who told us a few months ago that the Threadripper shortage was slowing down business and forcing them to recommend Intel-based systems in multiple cases.

For anyone who right now has a workstation with a Threadripper Pro 3000 CPU, some good news: you'll be able to slot in a Threadripper Pro 5000 chip into a WRX80-based motherboard with a BIOS update.

It's official: the non-Pro Threadripper line is over

While the expansion of Threadripper Pro 5000 availability is a positive development for workstation vendors and buyers, AMD's Monday update came with some bad news, though some industry players knew it was likely coming: the death of the non-Pro Threadripper CPU.

AMD characterized this as "simplifying the platform" and said it would only develop Threadripper Pro CPUs from now on, which means we shouldn't expect to see a vanilla Threadripper 5000 lineup like we did with 2019's 3000 and previous generations. The chip designer said it did this to serve what the "most demanding enthusiasts and content creators value most in the platform."

In painting the news as a positive development, AMD said Threadripper Pro 5000 will give users 128 lanes of PCIe Gen 4 connectivity, 8-channel UDIMM and RDIMM support for "more flexible memory configurations," a "massive" L3 cache, plus management and security features that come with all Ryzen Pro processors, which are designed primarily for commercial use.

Threadripper's Pro future is a more expensive one

What AMD didn't say is that the Threadripper Pro CPUs and accompanying parts are more expensive than the non-Pro versions that were more enjoyed among the consumer set.

The thing to remember is that AMD introduced the Threadripper Pro brand in 2020 with the Threadripper Pro 3000 chips.

These chips represented a branch off the regular Threadripper processors AMD had been pushing since 2017, and their capabilities were made with professionals in mind, from higher-capacity, error-correcting memory to more than double the PCIe lanes.

The trade-off for these professional-friendly Threadripper Pro chips is that they are more expensive than the non-Pro counterparts. As Tom's Hardware noted last year, the 64-core Threadripper Pro 3995WX had a recommended pricing of $5,489, which was $1,499 higher than its consumer-friendly counterpart, the Threadripper 3990X. The price gulf between the 32-core versions was $750.

It's not just the CPU that is more expensive. The motherboards are, too, which Puget Systems said can really help pump up the price of an overall system compared to the non-Pro Threadripper chips.

"Almost all of the motherboards for those workstation-class processors are physically larger, in order to accommodate the high number of PCI-Express lanes and memory channels these chips offer, which in turn, means a larger tower chassis is required. So what could in months past have fit in a mid-tower for a reasonable price now requires a full-tower case and costs thousands of dollars more," the company said in a May blog post that tried to explain what was happening with Threadripper.

We will grant that Threadripper Pro systems are more affordable than workstations using AMD's server-grade Epyc chips, but those hoping to build a workstation-ish system on a budget may want to check out the latest high-end consumer CPUs from AMD and Intel instead. ®

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