AMD 3990X Against $20k Enterprise CPUs

For those looking at a server replacement CPU, AMD’s big discussion point here is that in order to get 64 cores on Intel hardware is relatively hard. The best way to get there is with a dual socket system, featuring two of its 28-core dies at a hefty $10k a piece. AMD’s argument is that users can consolidate down to a single socket, but also have better memory support, PCIe 4.0, and no cross-memory domain issues.

AMD 3990X Enterprise Competition
AnandTech AMD
3990X
AMD
7702P
Intel
2x8280
SEP $3990 $4450 $20018
Cores/Threads 64 / 128 64 / 128 56 / 112
Base Frequency 2900 2000 2700
Turbo Frequency 4300 3350 4000
PCIe 4.0 x64 4.0 x128 3.0 x96
DDR4 Frequency 4x 3200 8x 3200 12x 2933
Max DDR4 Capacity 512 GB 2 TB 3 TB
TDP 280 W 200 W 410 W

Unfortunately I was unable to get ahold of our Rome CPUs from Johan in time for this review, however I do have data from several dual Intel Xeon setups that I did a few months ago, including the $20k system.

Corona 1.3 Benchmark

This time with Corona the competition is hot on the heels of AMD's 64-core CPUs, but even $20k of hardware can't match it.

3D Particle Movement v2.1

The non-AVX verson of 3DPM puts the Zen 2 hardware out front, with everything else waiting in the wings.

3D Particle Movement v2.1 (with AVX)

When we add in the AVX-512 hand tuned code, the situation flips: Intel's 56 cores get almost 2.5x the score of AMD, despite having fewer cores.

Blender 2.79b bmw27_cpu Benchmark

Blender doesn't seem to like the additional access latency from the 2P systems.

AES Encoding

For AES encoding, as the benchmark takes places from memory, it appears that none of Intel's CPUs can match AMD here.

7-Zip 1805 Combined

For the 7-zip combined test, there's little difference between AMD's 32-core and 64-core, but there are sizable jumps above Intel hardware.

POV-Ray 3.7.1 Benchmark

LuxMark v3.1 C++

AppTimer: GIMP 2.10.4

Verdict

In our tests here (more in our benchmark database), AMD's 3990X would get the crown over Intel's dual socket offerings. The only thing really keeping me back from giving it is the same reason there was hesitation on the previous page: it doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from AMD's own 32-core CPU. Where AMD does win is in that 'money is less of an issue scenario', where using a single socket 64 core CPU can help consolidate systems, save power, and save money. Intel's CPUs have a TDP of 205W each (more if you decide to use the turbo, which we did here), which totals 410W, while AMD maxed out at 280W in our tests. Technically Intel's 2P has access to more PCIe lanes, but AMD's PCIe lanes are PCIe 4.0, not PCIe 3.0, and with the right switch can power many more than Intel (if you're saving 16k, then a switch is peanuts).

We acknowledge that our tests here aren't in any way a comprehensive test of server level workloads, but for the user base that AMD is aiming for, we'd take the 64 core (or even the 32 core) in most circumstances over two Intel 28 core CPUs, and spend the extra money on memory, storage, or a couple of big fat GPUs.

AMD 3990X Against Prosumer CPUs Opportunities Multiply As They Are Seized
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  • Logic28 - Monday, May 11, 2020 - link

    Link or it didn't happen.

    8180 which has only 28 cores has a list price on NewEgg right now of $11000
    vs the 4k 3990X Threadripper....

    I don't get this need to push out information that is clearly not truthful. The price of these procs need to eventually fall, right now Intel is living off the upgrade path many studies are dug in on, and so you have IT trying to justify a much worse cpu so they dont' have to do a bunch of work replacing all the machines currently getting their assets kicked by a consumer cpu, again at a fraction of the cost.
    Reply
  • sharath.naik - Saturday, February 8, 2020 - link

    Agree, for a 64 core processor to be fully utilized you need more ram capacity. But we do have 64gb rams already available which means that you can go up to 512GB today. It is an unnecessary limitation. Reply
  • antus - Sunday, February 9, 2020 - link

    It still has use for scientific workloads. Its up to the user to decide if this many cores in this configuration at this low price works for them.
    Its a pitty this article centered so much on windows limitations. Sure some people might want this many cores in a HEDT configuration but i'd like to see linux benchmarks due to it being a free OS that can handle this cpu properly and run scientific workloads. It likely would have a place in the racks of university where I work.
    Reply
  • GreenReaper - Sunday, February 9, 2020 - link

    Ultimately this is a Windows shop, you need to look to Phoronix or ServeTheHome (which did both). Takeaway is the same but they do more traditional server workloads. For parallel sever tasks, it's great. Most people will want to use one of the cut-down CPUs and use the savings on for RAM/storage. Reply
  • alysdexia - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    It's, whom, I'd, CPU, should Reply
  • kardonn - Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - link

    I run a very high end VFX studio and do simulation work for big features, high end commercials, and big productions for Amazon/Netflix. I assure you, 256GB RAM is way more than I've ever needed and will easily be futureproof enough until larger UDIMMS become available one day to unlock the 512GB potential.

    All of my current workstations are 128GB of RAM and it's very rare for me to work on jobs that even approach that limit. 256GB is tons for 99% of the work people will be throwing a 3990X at.
    Reply
  • alysdexia - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    its, hick Reply
  • Logic28 - Monday, May 11, 2020 - link

    You guys are flat out wrong about the usefulness in vfx. I work in vfx, Blur used this chip to render Dark Fate - Terminator. And no single render is going over 128GB in more renders. You don't treat this like a standard server where you are running 4-8 frames/jobs on one machine like you would with say a 8280 with 56 cores, and enough ram to give each job 128 GB for instance.
    You instead put this on lighting artists desk, or a Houdini Physics sims, or you can use it as a server, but only pushing through 1-2 frames at a time on it.
    But here is the kicker people need to compare this to.
    This proc is literally priced at 1/7th to 1/10th the price of the Xeon, and it destroys it in rendering speed.
    So you can increase lighting artist working speed by like several orders of magnitude.

    And no you cannot find the Xeon for $4700 that is comparable. What are you guys fake bots pushing intel prop? Seriously just looked on Newegg.com you can get the 8180 which has 28 cores, for $11000. Which is like less then half the speed of the 3990x. Which is $4k. So you need 2 xeons, at $22000 and dual motherboard add another 2k extra for setup costs, etc.

    So what would you have one Xeon 8280 server with 2 process for $24k and 128GB * 6 Ram
    or
    6 full Xeon 3990x Threadrippers servers each with 128-258GB of ram

    Option 2 gives you literally 7-8 times the rendering power for the same price? I mean, seriously.
    No use, you have no idea about hardware if you think that a machine that is destroying a server 3 times the price.

    Yea it has a place, under my bloody desk, or terradici'd from my closest.

    Again, Blur did brilliant work on Dark Fate, a heavy CG movie, no problem with a server room full of these babies.

    And that is not even talking the fact that the upgrade path for the x3990 has much more potential with a x3999 future, vs the Xeon which is basically on a beast of a die that consumes twice the power consumption for less rendering speed.

    Seriously. Even Premiere benchmarks fall to this and the Ryzen 3950X beast as well vs inteal.

    It is amazing how people just refuse to admit AMD is winning...
    Reply
  • Santoval - Sunday, February 9, 2020 - link

    It depends on how you define "enthusiasts". If you mean enthusiast *creators* who need a workstation for their work then sure, that's the CPU for them. Video editors, photographers, graphics designers, industrial designers, game designers ... these kinds of creators. It's not just for playing games or merely running benchmarks though. Even for a professional musician it might be overkill. Reply
  • WaltC - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    I found this article a bit baffling, frankly. I did not understand the "out of chaos" titling at all...;) But anyway--it should be obvious what AMD is doing here--people running desktops for gaming running Win10 home or Pro are *not* the people the CPU is aimed at--the CPU is aimed at Prosumers who would rather not spend $20k for Intel's inferior solutions but would rather spend $4k for a faster cpu solution and save a cool $16k in the bargain and come out with something appreciably faster. Yes, people are going to run this with Enterprise--duh...;) You aren't going to spend money on a 128t cpu and then run it with a 64t OS--don't even know why Win10 and Win10 Pro were mentioned at all--other than to state they shouldn't be used with the CPU--which would take but a single sentence. Then there the handful of benchmarks used here--how many threads do each of these benchmarks support at maximum? Article didn't say--so that was sort of a strike out, etc. I think Anandtech needs to come back and do this review properly--as it stands, this one makes it seem like the only "chaos" involved is the obvious confusion in the minds of the AT reviewers....;) (No offense) Simply put: if Intel couldn't sell $20k cpu systems Intel wouldn't make them--so obviously, there's a market for 128t cpus--again, duh. You can do much better than Intel at a fraction of the cost--and there's your market! No chaos at all. Also: this CPU is very new--there remain the usual AGESA bios improvements that need to be made in the upcoming months, etc. That fact should have garnered at least a sentence, don't you think? In the past I've seen much better reviews than this--especially for the world's first and only 128t single CPU! Reply

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