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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  • timecop1818 - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    Another useless processor from AMD Reply
  • jordanclock - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    Care to elaborate on the hyperbolic statement? Or are you reading a review from another dimension where the 3990X doesn't dominate on most benchmarks and is competitive on the rest? Reply
  • Irata - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    And now remember that (s)he was probably sitting in front of the PC in front of a browser hitting F5 repeatedly just to be able to post this comment as first before even having read the article. Reply
  • Lhapiye_Kie - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    eh, are you a regular here too?
    do you mean that is someone with non K something?
    XD
    Reply
  • leexgx - Monday, February 24, 2020 - link

    he really messed up this review (and his time) by not updating his OS (CPU was showing as 2 sockets) up to date OS shows as 1 socket

    the 64 thread limit is still there on Pro, Pro for Workstation and enterprise as long as you have 1903/1909 up to date (windows still splits the cpu into 2 kinda like Numa groups, but is only visible via set affinity in details in task manager)
    Reply
  • yeeeeman - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    It is useless for the consumer market, but for the enthusiasts it is a gem. Reply
  • Irata - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    That applies to anything high end Reply
  • bill.rookard - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    Not sure about being for 'enthusiasts' as it's price is a bit high for that, and that it really is aimed squarely at the workstation market. That being said, the fact that it only (only heh!) supports effectively at this point 256GB of RAM until larger UDIMMS come out do does limit it's appeal to the highest end configurations for VM's and VFX studios. ECC Registered DIMM support is almost mandatory for those. Reply
  • nevcairiel - Saturday, February 8, 2020 - link

    I agree with this, with this high number of cores the memory support is, frankly, not enough. It severly limits the usefulness. But I suppose thats the point, afterall they want to still sell the much more expensive EPYC CPUs. Reply
  • AlexDaum - Sunday, February 9, 2020 - link

    The single socket epyc CPUs aren't even that much more expensive. On Newegg you can get it for 4700$. Reply

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