AMD Threadripper 3970X and 3960X Review: High-End Domination

In an implausible alignment of the silicon stars, AMD’s third-gen Threadripper 3970X and 3960X release lately along Intel’s new Cascade Lake-X Core i9-10980XE, giving us a have a look at the way forward for the excessive finish desktop all in one cross. 

Intel undoubtedly has its paintings lower out for it. Earlier this month, AMD showcased some great benefits of its Zen 2 microarchitecture and 7nm procedure via cramming the 16-core/32-thread Ryzen 9 3950X into its mainstream platforms, doubling the core depend of Intel’s competing chips. That created a brand new tier of threaded efficiency for mainstream motherboards, one Intel merely cannot fit, and disappointed Intel’s pricing construction for its high-end desktop lineup within the procedure. 

But that wasn’t the whole extent of the wear: Intel preemptively slashed the gen-on-gen pricing of its imminent Cascade Lake-X chips in part because it braced for the affect of AMD’s Threadripper 3000. 

Now they are right here: AMD’s 32-core 64-thread Threadripper 3970X and 24-core 48-thread 3960X have landed in our labs with the similar core counts as their predecessors, however as an alternative of a headline success like a doubling of core counts, Threadripper’s new structure serves because the megastar of the display. The ‘Castle Peak’ design brings a brand new design that does away with lots of the previous-gen Threadrippers’ eccentricities, which equates to giant efficiency good points around the board. Add in enhance for PCIe 4.0, and the Threadripper 3000 sequence looks as if a winner.

Of path, with a lot more actual property to be had within the large sTRX4 socket on TRX40 motherboards (), we additionally absolutely be expecting AMD to carry the density benefits of its 7nm procedure to undergo, and shortly it is going to: The corporate showed it will carry a beastly 64-core 128-thread Threadripper 3990X with an excellent 288MB of general cache and 280W TDP to marketplace in 2021

But whilst we wait for that ludicrously-appointed chip, we’ve got a lot of pleasure with the Threadripper 3970X and 3960X. These chips promise a brand new degree of efficiency for prosumers and creators, they usually ship. 

We’ve been busy in our labs trying out the processors thru our same old take a look at suite of video games and programs, but in addition added an expansive set of workstation assessments that disclose some great benefits of the TRX40 platform, like AMD’s main enhance of PCIe 4.0. We even have Intel’s new Core i9-10980XE at the roster, in conjunction with the Ryzen 9 3950X, to provide you with a view of all the high-end battlefield. 

Threadripper 3970X and 3960X Specifications and Pricing

AMD’s Threadripper 3000 processors debut with a lot upper pricing than the previous-gen fashions: At $1,999, the 32-core 3970X debuts for $200 greater than its predecessor, and AMD tacked on an additional $100 for the $1,399 24-core 3960X. AMD attributes the greater pricing to the brand new degree of efficiency and get right of entry to to Threadripper’s modern enhance for the PCIe 4.0 interface. 

AMD gears the Threadripper 3000 processors for content material creators and prosumers, like three-D artists, filmmakers, and device builders. For execs, any time beyond regulation spent finishing a role equates to misplaced earnings, making the upper worth a justifiable expense if the top rate fits the efficiency.

You’ll additionally want a new TRX40 motherboard to enhance the chips. We’ve examined a pair across the release of those chips, and our present favourite is ASRock’s TRX40 Taichi. Due to the upper pricing of Threadripper 3000 fashions and the requirement for a brand new motherboard, AMD is leaving the present second-gen Threadripper processors available on the market for the foreseeable long term as a ‘price HEDT’ providing for content material creators. You can steadily in finding the 32-core Threadripper 2990WX for  kind of $1,700 and the 24-core 2970WX for approximately $925, and we think the ones costs will fall quickly. 

SEP (USD)Cores / ThreadsTDP (Watts)Base / Boost Frequency (GHz)L3 Cache (MB)PCIe 4.0 Lanes
Threadripper 3990X?64 / 128280W?256?
Threadripper 3970X$1,99932 / 64280W3.7 / 4.512864
Threadripper 3960X$1,39924 / 48280W3.8 / 4.512864
Threadripper 2990WX~$1,70032 / 64250W3.0 / 4.26464 Gen3
Threadripper 2970WX~$92524 / 48180W3.5 / 4.46464 Gen3
Ryzen 9 3950X$74916 / 32105W3.5 / 4.76464
Ryzen 9 3900X$49912 / 24105W3.8 / 4.66424

The Threadripper 3970X weighs in with 32 cores and 64 threads that perform at a 3.7 GHz base and 4.5 GHz spice up paired with 144 MB of general cache (128MB L3), whilst the Threadripper 3960X has 24 cores and 48 threads that run at a 3.8 GHz base and 4.5 GHz spice up with 140 MB of general cache. 

Both chips disclose 88 PCIe 4.0 lanes, however the TRX40 chipset consumes a few of the ones lanes, leaving 64 uncovered to the consumer. The PCIe 4.0 interface is a notable benefit of AMD’s Ryzen desktop lineup, however it’s extra essential within the HEDT area the place high-speed garage and networking gadgets are much more likely to search out their method into tough techniques. 

Both processors enhance four channels of DDR4-3200 reminiscence, however knowledge switch charges range in line with DIMM inhabitants. The chips enhance as much as eight DIMMs of 32GB reminiscence, totalling 256GB. The processors additionally enhance ECC reminiscence, however implementation varies via motherboard. The Threadripper processors characteristic the similar reminiscence controllers because the Ryzen 3000 chips, so reminiscence overclocking is a relatively simple affair.

Cores / ThreadsBase / Boost (GHz)L3 Cache (MB)PCIeDRAMTDPMSRP/RCPPrice Per Core
Threadripper 3990X64 / 128?256??280W??
Intel W-3175X28 / 563.1 / 4.838.548 Gen 3Six-Channel DDR4-2666255W$2999$107.10
Threadripper 3970X32 / 643.7 / 4.5*12888 Gen 4 (72 Usable)Quad DDR4-3200280W$1999$62.47
Xeon W-327528 / 562.5 / 4.638.564 Gen3Six-Channel DDR4-2933205W$4,449$158.89
Threadripper 2990WX32 / 643.0 / 4.26464 (4 to PCH) Gen 3Quad DDR4-2933250W~$1,700$53
Threadripper 3960X24 / 483.8 / 4.5*12888 Gen 4 (72 Usable)Quad DDR4-3200280W$1,399$58.29
Xeon W-326524 / 482.7 / 4.63364 Gen 3Six-Channel DDR4-2933205W$3,349$139.54
Threadripper 2970WX24 / 483.0 / 4.26464 (4 to PCH) Gen 3Quad DDR4-2933250W~$925~$38.51
Core i9-10980XE18 / 363.0 / 4.824.7548 Gen 3Quad DDR4-2933165W$979$54.39
Ryzen 9 3950X16 / 323.5 / 4.76464Dual DDR4-3200105W$749$46.81

Intel’s new Cascade Lake-X represents the corporate’s flagship competitor at the high-end desktop, however it is just $979, which is not up to part the cost of the previous-gen Core i9-9980XE. That leaves AMD’s Threadripper 3000 in large part uncontested within the conventional HEDT area, even though Intel does be offering its Xeon W processors with the server-derived LGA 3647 socket. 

The Xeon W chips slot into a better workstation tier, best out at 28 cores, and do not characteristic unlocked multipliers, which means they don’t seem to be overclockable like HEDT processors. These processors require dear motherboards and coolers, and in addition characteristic six-channel reminiscence controllers. Given their workstation-class options, the Xeon W chips that compete at once (in line with core depend) in opposition to Threadripper 3000 retail for $3,349 and $4,499 for a 28-core chip, so they don’t seem to be appropriate competition. 

Intel additionally has its Xeon W-3175X, the lone overclockable processor at the LGA 3647 platform, for $3,000. This 28-core 56-thread processor drops into unique motherboards that elevate heart-stopping worth tags, so it really is not an instantaneous competitor to Threadripper 3000, both.

AMD does not particularly marketplace the Threadripper processors for workstation use, and the considerably decrease pricing way Intel has in large part ceded the highest of the HEDT marketplace to AMD, a minimum of for now.

Third-gen Threadripper Architecture

The Threadripper 3000 sequence chips include the TSMC 7nm procedure, which has density benefits that manifest as upper efficiency, higher energy potency, extra cores, and extra cache packed right into a smaller die house than the first- and second-gen Threadripper fashions. 

Like the mainstream Ryzen portions, Threadripper 3000 comes packing AMD’s Zen 2 microarchitecture that brings a notable IPC development, however AMD spreads the design throughout four eight-core ‘core chiplet die’ (CCD), versus two with the mainstream chips. AMD ties the compute chiplets in combination by way of the Infinity Fabric to a big central 12nm I/O die that homes two 32x PCIe Gen4 controllers and two dual-channel DDR4 reminiscence controllers. 

Each 7nm compute chiplet options ~3.9 billion transistors, whilst the 12nm I/O die has ~8.34 billion transistors, yielding a complete of ~23.94 billion transistors within the Threadripper 3970X and 3960X unfold over 712 sq. millimeters of silicon.

As we will see within the final symbol within the album beneath, the brand new design stands by contrast to the disbursed design within the first- and second-gen Threadripper fashions, which had as much as four die hooked up at once to one another. Unfortunately, AMD fused off the PCIe and reminiscence controllers on two of the ones die, which resulted in greater latency when the die had to get right of entry to some distance reminiscence banks and I/O gadgets. 

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Threadripper 3000’s I/O die supplies the compute chiplets with uniform get right of entry to to the PCIe and reminiscence controllers, thus lowering a layer of latency and making sure a easy high quality of provider. AMD additionally decreased the Infinity Fabric On-Package’s (IFOP) energy intake via 27%, which the SoC now allocates to offer further compute horsepower. 

Like all fashionable processors, AMD’s 3000-series processors and dies include a mixture of quicker and slower cores. However, as we found out, AMD techniques most spice up frequencies on a per-core foundation. That stands by contrast to the former trade status-quo of handing over a uniform spice up capacity throughout all cores, however the method extracts the utmost efficiency and gear potency out of each and every die.

As a end result, each and every core and die has other spice up features, so AMD chooses a top rate die and puts it within the CCD4 place within the SoC. The corporate then makes use of an leading edge mixture of the Windows scheduler, drivers, and motherboard firmware to focus on the quickest two cores with lightly-threaded workloads, which permits it to execute on the easiest conceivable frequency. 

The Windows scheduler, which interfaces with CPPC2 (aka ‘most popular core), rotates the lightly-threaded paintings between the two quickest cores on CCD4 to scale back present and thermal density, which fosters extra common and longer-duration boosts. AMD has weathered a lot of complaint for its early missteps when imposing the CPPC2 capability, however has mounted the lion’s proportion of the problems. As we will display at the following web page, our Threadripper chips had no problems attaining their rated spice up speeds, or even exceeded the score on uncommon events. 

TRX40 Motherboards

AMD’s new TRX40 platform includes a new sTRX4 socket that’s not backward suitable with current Threadripper processors, and the 3000 sequence is not backward suitable with X399 forums, both. The sockets are routinely suitable, so you utilize a cooler designed for previous-gen Threadripper chips with the 3000-series fashions, and AMD says that any cooling answer able to dealing with 1000- and 2000-series processors will have to suffice for the 3970X and 3960X. 

The sTRX4 socket options the similar 4094 pins because the previous-gen sTR4 socket, however AMD modified {the electrical} structure of the brand new socket to house the PCIe 4.0 interface. The corporate hasn’t dedicated to compatibility with long term Threadripper processors, however says the socket is designed with scalability in thoughts. That will clearly turn out to be useful when the 64-core Threadripper 3990X lands subsequent yr. 

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The TRX40 chipset options 16 GB/s of throughput between the processor and the chipset, which comes courtesy of 8 PCIe 4.0 lanes. In distinction, Intel helps 4 GB/s of throughput over its DMI hyperlink during the PCIe 3.0 interface. TRX40’s further bandwidth will get advantages a couple of gadgets that dangle off the TRX40 chipset, like huge PCIe SSD arrays.

Threadripper 3000 additionally provides as much as 133GB/s of concurrent bandwidth to hooked up gadgets, whilst Intel simplest provides 52 GB/s, which is every other vital merit. 

MSI, Gigabyte, ASUS and ASRock have all introduced modern TRX40 motherboards, and we think extra to apply within the coming months. 


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