AMD’s Ryzen 9 3950X was supposed to be out around now, but we recently heard it has been delayed to November – although the reason for that two-month delay isn’t supply issues, as previously thought, but alleged problems with ‘unsatisfactory’ clock speeds.
When AMD announced the delay of the 3950X, the company said that it was “focusing on meeting the strong demand for our third generation AMD Ryzen processors in the market”.
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In other words, it's making sure it's not coming up short, and that makes sense given what we’ve already seen regarding shortages of some Ryzen 3000 chips, also at the top end – most obviously the 3900X since it was first launched – coupled with 7nm production worries at TSMC. (TSMC makes AMD’s new Ryzen chips, and 7nm Navi graphics cards – although those production concerns are more of a longer-term worry as we understand it.)
However, DigiTimes is now claiming that it’s actually worries about clock speeds not being fast enough which have caused AMD to make the delay.
DigiTimes writes: “Last week’s news about TSMC extending 7nm chip production lead time because of strong demand provoked knee-jerk speculation that it was the cause of AMD delaying the launch of its Ryzen 9 3950X.
“It has turned out that unsatisfactory clock speed – rather than foundry support – has prompted AMD to adjust the design of 16-core processor, according to sources from the motherboard supply chain.”
Obviously we have to treat this very carefully, as it's just the latest nugget from the ever-spinning CPU rumor mill. But it’s hardly unbelievable that AMD may have some concerns about the new 16-core flagship hitting its promised clock speeds, and more specifically the advertised boost speed.
There has been a lot of controversy around the latter recently, which you’re unlikely to have missed, with AMD having admitted there is an issue around boost clocks falling short, concocting a fix to address this.
So it’s not difficult to imagine that the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X might have had some wobbles in terms of hitting its advertised 4.7GHz boost across the board, but this is entering the realm of pure speculation.
What is interesting is DigiTimes mentioning “adjusting the design” of the chip to remedy whatever was unsatisfactory with the clock speeds of the 3950X, which seems to suggest something a bit deeper than mere firmware tuning. Although this could simply be a matter of phrasing…
At any rate, even before this latest bit of speculation emerged, it was clear enough that when the 3950X launches there will be a lot of scrutiny on this 16-core flagship thanks to the whole boost clock affair. So AMD certainly needs to get things right, and caution could be the best part of valor in that respect.
The other possibility is that this delay could be a combination of both worries about clocks and supply issues, because the latter certainly seems like a valid concern given that the 3900X is still thin on the ground.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).