Ryzen Threadripper with 16 Cores even for a smaller PC
There is something appealing about the possibility of taking the fastest hardware that exists in the PC world and putting it in the smallest case possible rather than using conventional tower case. We have seen this with X299E-ITX/ac mini-ITX board for Skylake-X processors. We probably won’t witness a similar scenario for Ryzen Threadripper, because of the size of the socket, but there is a new MicroATX model at least.
MicroATX or mATX (244 × 244 mm) do not represent such harsh limitations and that makes way for TR4 socket. However, the price for it is missing PCI Express slots. The first (and possibly the only) AMD X399/TR4 model smaller than ATX is ASRock X399M Taichi which has managed to keep most of the main advantages of the Threadripper but not all of them.
ASRock X399M Taichi has three PCI Express 3.0 ×16 reinforced slots, all with full connectivity. The last two are right next to each other (it cannot be done differently in a space for just four positions). These slots use 48 lines out of total 64, which processor has, and four more are used to connect the X399 chipset. The remaining twelve can be fully exploited for fast NVMe SSD, there are three “Ultra” M.2 slots with PCI Epxress 3.0 ×4 connectivity. In addition, there is a U.2 port which probably shares some of those lines.
Unfortunately, two of these slots are placed vertically on the right side of the board. The need to reserve their space probably caused that eight DIMM memory slots (which are supported by Ryzen Thredripper) could not be placed on the sides of the TR4 socket. There are only four slots on the board, so you can use a 4 channel DDR4 memory controller, but you cannot get the full capacity possible (currently 128GB with 16GB modules, only 64GB here).
We might learn more details at CES 2018 next week, where the board definitely will be exposed. The press release shows that the power supply circuit has 11 phases that cool the heatsink between memory slots. In the photo, it seems that one heatpipe is connected to the auxiliary heatisnk between the left pair of DIMM slots and the connectors on the rear panel. The total volume is not small, so VRM temperatures should not be bad.
The board has a built-in Wi-Fi module and 10Gb/s USB 3.1 at the back (including the C port). If there is an option to have USB 3.1 at the front panel, ASRock does not boast about it. There are eight SATA ports. We’d love to see 10 Gb/s Acquantia network adapter (which supports 2.5/5.0 Gb/s) like on some higher models, but it is probably missing here. There are two Ethernets, but most likely only 1 Gb.
When will X399M Tachi be released is still unknown, same as its price. Production costs should not be bigger than those of ATX X399 Taichi model, but the Threadripper platform is quite exclusive and expensive on its own. We assume that X399M Taichi will cost approximately 300 – 350 €.