Overclocking: 4.0 GHz for 500W

Who said that a 250W processor should not be overclocked? AMD prides itself as being a processor manufacturer that offers every consumer processor as a multiplier unlocked part, as well as using a soldered thermal interface material to assist with thermal dissipation performance. This 2990WX has an X in the same, so let the overclocking begin!

Actually, confession time. We did not have much time to do overclocking by any stretch. This processor has a 3.0 GHz base frequency and a 4.2 GHz turbo frequency, and in an air-conditioned room using the 500W Enermax Liqtech cooler, when running all cores under POV-Ray, we observed each core running around 3150 MHz, which is barely above the turbo frequency. The first thing I did was set the all-core turbo to 4.2 GHz, the same as the single core turbo frequency. That was a bust.

However, the next stage of my overclocking escapades surprised me. I set the CPU to a 40x multiplier in the BIOS, for 4.0 GHz on all the cores, all the time. I did not adjust the voltage, it was kept at auto, and I was leaving the ASUS motherboard to figure it out. Lo and behold, it performed flawlessly through our testing suite at 4.0 GHz. I was shocked.

All I did for this overclock was turn a setting from ‘auto’ to ‘40’, and it breezed through almost every test I threw at it. I say almost every test – our Prime95 power testing failed. But our POV-Ray power testing, which draws more power, worked. Every benchmark in the suite worked. Thermals were high (in the 70s), but the cooler could take it, and with good reason too.

At full load in our POV-Ray test, the processor was listed as consuming 500W. The cooler is rated for 500W. At one point we saw 511W. This was split between 440W for the cores (or 13.8W per core) and 63W for the non-core (IF, IO, IMC) which equates to only 12.5% of the full power consumption. It answers the question from our Infinity Fabric power page - if you want the interconnect to be less of the overall power draw, overclock!

We also tried 4.1 GHz, and that seemed to work as well, although we did not get a full benchmark run out of it before having to pack the system up. As stated above, 4.2 GHz was a no-go, even when increasing the voltage. With tweaking (and the right cooling), it could be possible. For anyone wanting to push here, chilled water might be the way to go.

Performance at 4.0 GHz

So if the all-core frequency was 3125 MHz, an overclock to 4000 MHz all-core should give a 28% performance increase, right? Here are some of the key tests from our suite.

AppTimer: GIMP 2.10.4 (copy)Blender 2.79b bmw27_cpu Benchmark (copy)POV-Ray 3.7.1 Benchmark (copy)WinRAR 5.60b3 (copy)PCMark10 Extended Score (copy)Agisoft Photoscan 1.3.3, Complex Test (copy)

Overclocking the 2990WX is a mixed bag, because of how it does really well in some tests, and how it still sits behind the 2950X in others due to the bi-modal nature of the cores. In the tests were it already wins, it pushes out a lot more: Blender is up 19% in throughput, POV-Ray is up 19%, 3DPM is up 19%. The other tests, is catches back up to the 2950X (Photoscan), or still lags behind (app loading, WinRAR).

Overclocking is not the cure-all for the performance issues on the 2990WX, but it certainly does help.

Power Consumption, TDP, and Prime95 vs POV-Ray Thermal Comparisons and XFR2: Remember to Remove the CPU Cooler Plastic!
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  • ibnmadhi - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    It's over, Intel is finished. Reply
  • milkod2001 - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    Unfortunately not even close. Intel was dominating for last decade or so. Now when AMD is back in game, many will consider AMD but most will still get Intel instead. Damage was done.It took forever to AMD to recover from being useless and will take at least 5 years till it will get some serious market share. Better late than never though... Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    It's not imminent, but Intel sure seems set for a gradual decline. It's hard to eke out IPC wins these days so it'll be hard to shake AMD off per-core, they no longer have a massive process lead to lead on core count with their margins either, and ARM is also chipping away at the bottom.

    Intel will probably be a vampire that lives another hundred years, but it'll go from the 900lb gorilla to one on a decent diet.
    Reply
  • ACE76 - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    AMD retail sales are equal to Intel now...and they are starting to make a noticeable dent in the server market as well...it won't take 5 years for them to be on top...if Ryzen 2 delivers a 25% increase in performance, they will topple Intel in 2019/2020 Reply
  • HStewart - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    "AMD retail sales are equal to Intel now"

    Desktop maybe - but that is minimal market.
    Reply
  • monglerbongler - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    Pretty much this.

    No one really cares about workstation/prosumer/gaming PC market. Its almost certainly the smallest measurable segment of the industry.

    As far as these companies' business models are concerned:

    Data center/server/cluster > OEM consumer (dell, hp, microsoft, apple, asus, toshiba, etc.) > random categories like industrial or compact PCs used in hospitals and places like that > Workstation/prosumer/gaming

    AMD's entire strategy is to desperately push as hard as they can into the bulwark of Intel's cloud/server/data center dominance.

    Though, to be completely honest, for that segment they really only offer pure core count and PCIe as benefits. Sure they have lots of memory channels, but server/data center and cluster are already moving toward the future of storage/memory fusion (eg Optane), so that entire traditional design may start to change radically soon.

    All important: Performance per unit of area inside of a box, and performance per watt? Not the greatest.

    That is exceptionally important for small companies that buy cooling from the power grid (air conditioning). If you are a big company in Washington and buy your cooling via river water, you might have to invest in upgrades to your cooling system.

    Beyond all that the Epyc chips are so freaking massive that they can literally restrict the ability to design 2 slot server configuration motherboards that also have to house additional compute hardware (eg GPGPU or FPGA boards). I laugh at the prospect of a 4 slot epyc motherboard. The thing will be the size of a goddamn desk. Literally a "desktop" sized motherboard.

    If you cant figure it out, its obvious:

    Everything except for the last category involves massive years-spanning contracts for massive orders of hundreds of thousands or millions of individual components.

    You can't bet hundreds of millions or billions in R&D, plus the years-spanning billion dollar contracts with Global Foundries (AMD) or the tooling required to upgrade and maintain equipment (Intel) on the vagaries of consumers, small businesses that make workstations to order, that small fraction of people who buy workstations from OEMs, etc.

    Even if you go to a place like Pixar studios or a game developer, most of the actual physical computers inside are regular, bone standard, consumer-level hardware PCs, not workstation level equipment. There certainly ARE workstations, but they are a minority of the capital equipment inside such places.

    Ultimately that is why, despite all the press, despite sending out expensive test samples to Anandtech, despite flashy powerpoint presentations given by arbitrary VPs of engineering or CEOs, all of the workstation/Prosumer/gaming stuff is just low-binned server equipment.

    because those are really the only 2 categories of products they make;

    pure consumer, pure workstation. Everything else is just partially enabled/disabled variations on those 2 flavors.
    Reply
  • Icehawk - Monday, August 13, 2018 - link

    I was looking at some new boxes for work and our main vendors offer little if anything AMD either for server roles or desktop. Even if they did it's an uphill battle to push a "2nd tier" vendor (AMD is not but are perceived that way by some) to management. Reply
  • PixyMisa - Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - link

    There aren't any 4-socket EPYC servers because the interconnect only allows for two sockets. The fact that it might be difficult to build such servers is irrelevant because it's impossible. Reply
  • leexgx - Thursday, August 16, 2018 - link

    is more then 2 sockets needed when you have so many cores to play with Reply
  • Relic74 - Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - link

    Actually there are, kind of, supermicro for example has created a 4 node server for the Epyc. Basically it's 4 computers in one server case but the performance is equal to that if not better than that of a hardware 4 socket server. Cool stuff, you should check it out. In fact, I think this is the way of the future and multi socket systems are on their way out as this solution provides more control over what CPU. As well as what the individual cores are doing and provides better power management as you can shut down individual nodes or put them in stand by where as server with 4 sockets/CPU's is basically always on.

    There is a really great white paper on the subject that came out of AMD, where the stated that they looked into creating a 4 socket CPU and motherboard capable of handling all of the PCI lanes needed, however it didn't make any sense for them to do so as there weren't any performance gains over the node solution.

    In fact I believe we will see a resurrection of blade systems using AMD CPU's, especially now with all of the improvements that have been made with multi node cluster computing over the last few years.
    Reply

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