Conclusion: Price Makes Perfect

When you buy a system, ask yourself – what matters most to you?

Is it gaming performance?
Is it bang-for-buck?
Is it all-out peak performance?
Is it power consumption?
Is it performance per watt?

I can guarantee that out of the AnandTech audience, we will have some readers in each of these categories. Some will be price sensitive, while others will not. Some will be performance sensitive, others will be power (or noise) sensitive. The point here is that the Xeon W-3175X only caters to one market: high performance.

We tested the Xeon W-3175X in our regular suite of tests, and it performs as much as we would expect – it is a 28 core version of the Core i9-9980XE, so in single threaded tests it is about the same, but in raw multi-threaded tests it performs up to 50% better. For rendering, that’s great. For our variable threaded tests, the gains are not as big, from either no gain at all to around 20% or so. This is the nature of increasing threads – at some point, software hits Amdahl’s law of scaling and more threads does nothing. However, for software that isn’t at that point, the W-3175X comes in like a wrecking ball.

Corona 1.3 Benchmark

For our graphs, some of them had two values: a regular value in orange, and one in red called 'Intel Spec'. ASUS offers the option to 'open up' the power and current limits of the chip, so the CPU is still running at the same frequency but is not throttled. Despite Intel saying that they recommend 'Intel Spec', the system they sent to us to test was actually set up with the power limits opened up, and the results they provided for us to compare to internally also correlated with that setting. As a result, we provided both sets results for our CPU tests.

For the most part, the 'opened up' results scored better, especially in multithreaded tests, however Intel Spec did excel in memory bound tests. This is likely because in the 'opened up' way, there is no limit to keeping the high turbo which means there could be additional stalls for memory based workloads. In a slower 'Intel Spec' environment, there's plenty of power for the mesh and the memory controllers do deal with requests as they come.

Power, Overclockability, and Availability

Two-and-a-half questions hung over Intel during the announcement and launch of the W-3175X. First one was power, second was overclockability, and two-point-five was availability.

On the power side of the equation, again the W-3175X comes in like a wrecking ball, and this baby is on fire. While this chip has a 255W TDP, the turbo max power value is 510W – we don’t hit that at ‘stock’ frequency, which is more around the 300W mark, but we can really crank out the power when we start overclocking.

This processor has a regular all-core frequency of 3.8 GHz, with AVX2 at 3.2 GHz and AVX-512 at 2.8 GHz. In our testing, just by adjusting multipliers, we achieved an all-core turbo of 4.4 GHz and an AVX2 turbo of 4.0 GHz, with the systems drawing 520W and 450W respectively. At these frequencies, our CPU was reporting temperatures in excess of 110ºC! This processor is actually rated with a thermal shutoff at 120ºC, well above the 105ºC we see with regular desktop processors, which shows that perhaps Intel had to bin these chips enough that the high temperature profile was required.

On the question of availability, this is where the road is not so clear. Intel is intending only to sell these processors through OEMs and system integrators as part of pre-built systems only, for now. We’ve heard some numbers about how many chips will be made (it’s a low four-digit number), but we can only approximately confirm those numbers given one motherboard vendor also qualified how many boards they were building.

One of Anand’s comments I will always remember during our time together at AnandTech was this:

“There are no bad products, only bad prices.”

According to OEMs we spoke to, initially this processor was going to be $8k. The idea here is that being 28-core and unlocked, Intel did not want to consume its $10k Xeon market. Since then, distributors told us that the latest information they were getting was around $4500, and now Intel is saying that the recommended consumer price is $3000. That’s not Intel’s usual definition of ‘per-1000 units’, that’s the actual end-user price. Intel isn’t even quoting a per-1000 unit price, which just goes to substantiate the numbers we heard about volume.

At $8000, this CPU would be dead in the water, only suitable for high-frequency traders who could eat up the cost within a few hours of trading. At $4500, it would be a stretch, given that 18-core on Intel is only $2099, and AMD offers the 32-core 2990WX for $1799 which surpasses the performance per dollar on any rendering task.

At $2999, Intel has probably priced this one just right.

At $2999, it's not a hideous monstronsity that some worried it would be, but instead becomes a very believeable progression from the Core i9-9980XE. Just don’t ask about the rest of the system, as an OEM is probably looking at a $7k minimum build, or $10k end-user shelf price.

Gaming: F1 2018
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  • edzieba - Thursday, January 31, 2019 - link

    Because this is a cherry-picked part from a low-run die production. Intel don't make many XCC dies, and only a handful will be able to tolerate the high voltages and frequencies of this part across all 28 cores. It's also not going to be a big earner at $3000, that may break even on production but probably a loss overall when you take R&D into account. Reply
  • mapesdhs - Saturday, February 02, 2019 - link

    A movie company I know buys systems in such bulk, a CPU/system like this wouldn't even show up on their radar. They prefer systems they can buy lots of, for multiple sites with a common setup.

    People are arguing here about A vs. B, about the CPU cost, but as many have pointed out it's often the sw cost and availability which determine what a company will purchase. As for workstation use, especially the prosumer market, that has its own set of issues, especially whether a particular app is written well enough to exploit so many cores. Blender is, but Premiere isn't.
    Reply
  • FMinus - Friday, February 01, 2019 - link

    Or you can get two TR 2970W system and make them work in tandem for what I would think would be almost half the price at this point, considering you can buy this Intel gem only pre-built for probably well bloated prices. Reply
  • SanX - Friday, February 01, 2019 - link

    Intel are killing good at particle movement -- 4x faster then TR2. Till AMD makes AVX512 they are still dead for science Reply
  • ET - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    I find it amazing how application dependent performance is. Whether a product is a good buy depends so much on precisely what you're going to do with it, down to the application level.

    Still, on the whole, it looks like Intel has little to offer over AMD's much cheaper Threadripper platform.
    Reply
  • BigMamaInHouse - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    I think soon we gonna see "Leaks" about new TR64 cores, this "5GHZ 28C" stunt made AMD to release 2990WX instead just 24C 2970WX, now after the Fail attempt by Intel - We gonna see new leaks :-). Reply
  • FMinus - Friday, February 01, 2019 - link

    Considering AMD was attending the same trade show, where Intel announced this 28 core chip and AMD a day later announced the new TR lineup, I'd say AMD planned to release the 2990WX regardless of what Intel had. Reply
  • mapesdhs - Saturday, February 02, 2019 - link

    Yes, but the tinfoil hat industry is strong. :D Reply
  • Yorgos - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    it's not only program dependent, it's also scheduler dependent.
    It is found that the windows scheduler doesn't treat TR very well and throttles it down.(ref. L1T)
    Reply
  • MattZN - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    Yup, in a nutshell. When Microsoft finally fixes that scheduler issue all of these sites will have to rerun their benchmarks. While it won't run away on performance, the results will start to look more like they should given the HW capabilities. Not a problem for me with Linux but its kinda amusing that Windows users are so beholden to bugs like these and even the professional reviewers get lost when there isn't a convenient UI button that explains what is going on.

    -Matt
    Reply

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