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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  • WaltC - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    Above I meant to say that "In the past I've seen much better reviews from AT,"--you guys going to get a decent editing system for the news section anytime soon? Reply
  • Irata - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    Good point. Check OEM workstations like the Dell Precision 7920 and what is the installed OS ? Windows 10 for workstations. And that's for the lowest end 6C6T Xeon Bronze model.

    The OS version's name kinda gives it away.
    Reply
  • Irata - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    You could use a car comparison test as an analogy: if you are comparing a two seater to a sedan and your conclusion is that the sedan's passenger seat is more spacious, you are missing an important point - the sedan has space for three passengers, the two seater only for one, i.e. you can do things with the sedan that you cannot with the two seater. Reply
  • 29a - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    They always halfass AMD reviews, just look at EVERY Ryzen release. Reply
  • sandtitz - Saturday, February 8, 2020 - link

    You have some good points there.

    No software can scale up to infinite number of threads, and is 128-way already beyond some of the software tested? Some numbers saw regressions for whatever reasons.

    I appreciate this article mostly for the Windows 10 Pro vs. Workstation/Enterprise benchmarking since I always thought the difference was in licensing and max CPU/Mem support.

    I'm sure there are going to be enthusiasts and business users who have a need for 64 core CPU and wouldn't know the difference between Windows Pro and Workstation and would just go for the cheaper if the hardware doesn't surpass what the Pro license allows:

    I've delivered some fully loaded HP Zbook laptops to end users and they had the Win 10 Workstation license from the factory. Since the CPU (E-2186M) nor the memory (64GB) didn't even approach the Pro limits I was a bit perplexed but didn't think too much of it. Perhaps HP engineers had internally benchmarked and found out speed differences?
    Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Sunday, February 9, 2020 - link

    The real question is why anyone expects a consumer os to do well with such a cpu... even the workstation version of Windows is a joke when compared to the Linux performance: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&...

    A 30-60% difference is no joke, and shows how big the gap between win and Lin still is. This cpu is simply too “pro” for Windows...
    Reply
  • sandtitz - Sunday, February 9, 2020 - link

    Well, that's where the Win10 Pro Enterprise/Workstations comes to play.

    Had you read this Anandtech article you'd see how much faster it is than the plain Win10Pro.

    Mr. Larabel didn't use the Enterprise version for testing. This is quite understandable since Microsoft doesn't make it clear that there is a tremendous performance boost.
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Saturday, February 15, 2020 - link

    https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&...

    While this is using Clear Linux as reference, its advantage over Windows Enterprise ranges from 7-29% (geometric mean) with 16 - 64(+SMT) cores, respectively.
    Reply
  • valinor89 - Monday, February 10, 2020 - link

    The baffling tittles and subtittles are references to Sun Tzu's "The art of war", I believe. Reply
  • alysdexia - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    i9-9900T is more efficient and thriftier than Threadrippers. Reply

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