The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X is nothing short of impressive. This is a 24 core, 48 thread processor with a 3.8GHz base clock and 128MB of L3 cache. That is similar to, if not better than many of the dual Intel Xeon E5 V3 and V4 workstations currently being used. With the new 3rd generation Threadripper, AMD has introduced a number of features that Intel still cannot match. In our review, we are going to take a look at the performance relative to other workstation options in the market today.
Key stats for the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X: 24 cores / 48 threads with a 3.8GHz base clock and 4.5GHz turbo boost. There is 128MB of L3 cache. The CPU features a 280W TDP. These are $1399 list price parts.
Here is what the lscpu output looks like for an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X:
AMD is claiming 140MB of cache but it is important to remember this is really L2 + L3 cache. Still, if you compare the 128MB of L3 cache here in 8x 16MB segments, you get vastly more cache than top-end Intel SKUs like the Intel Xeon W-3275 28-core halo product which has only 38.5MB of L3 cache.
Since the 3rd generation, Ryzen Threadripper is using the AMD EPYC 7002 series “Rome” package as a base, it has features such as PCIe Gen4 and DDR4-3200 support. With the 3rd gen Threadripper platform, AMD has features such as PCIe Gen4 that Intel simply cannot match even if the Xeon W-3275 can match its core count.
AMD TRX40 Platform
With the 3rd generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper family we get a new TRX40 platform. The TRX40 brings with it PCIe Gen4. That is a feature Intel lacks in this generation. The CPU to TRX40 interface has gone from a Gen3 x4 link to a Gen4 x8 link effectively quadrupling bandwidth to the chipset.
Realistically, while the platform’s quad-channel memory is more similar to Intel’s X299 chipset, the I/O capabilities are more like an upgraded version of the Xeon W-3200 series platforms like we saw in our Supermicro X11SPA-T motherboard review. PCIe Gen4 gives AMD a higher I/O bandwidth platform while the LGA3647 Intel chipset has additional memory channels and capacity.
Many commented on our previous articles, in our forums, and on the Internet, lamenting that the 3rd Generation Threadripper family needed new motherboards. Two points to address this concern. First, PCIe Gen4 requires higher-quality PCB materials, and that makes the transition a logical point to upgrade platforms. Second, the volume in this market buys a PC for office work, then upgrades it on an IT refresh cadence. They are not swapping CPUs into old systems. Given the choice between backward compatibility and game-changing new features, we take new features and moving the market forward.
Major Topology Overhaul
First and second-generation Threadripper chips were known for having multiple NUMA nodes, much like dual processor Intel Xeon systems. Some chips, such as the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX had four NUMA nodes like the AMD EPYC 7001 “Naples” generation, as a four die/ NUMA node design. As you can see, the 2990WX has four NUMA nodes but only two have direct access to memory while the other two have to hop over Infinity Fabric to memory attached to a different die. This was less than ideal.
This topology worked, however, it probably would have been better if each die had access to a single memory channel in a 1+1+1+1 rather than a 2+0+2+0 quad-channel configuration. Some things were less than straightforward with this topology.
With the new AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X, we see a more AMD EPYC 7002 “Rome” series-like topology. You can compare the below to our AMD EPYC 7402P Review as an example.
With the new I/O die configuration, more or less taken from the EPYC side, one gets four DDR4 channels that connect to the I/O die. The I/O die also has PCIe lanes and the x86 core dies attached to it. As a result, we get something that most OSes see as a single NUMA node.
For those with 12-16 core per CPU Intel Xeon workstations, AMD is essentially halving the number of NUMA nodes you need for a similar system.
Here is the test configuration we used for the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X:
- Motherboard: MSI Creator TRX40
- CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3
- RAM: 4x Corsair 16GB DDR4-3200 UDIMM (64GB Total)
- SSD: Samsung PM961 1TB
- OS: Windows 10 Pro Workstation
As a quick note here. The retail packaging comes with a case badge which is nice, but there are two more important bits. First, one gets a torque driver that helps one secure the chip into the socket. Second, one gets a water-cooling adapter ring.
The new 3rd Generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper family shares a lot with the AMD EPYC so if you use the Threadripper tool it will work on EPYC sockets as well. While the sockets are different, the physical latching mechanism is very similar.
For our CPU we will be using an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X (24 core/48 thread) that you can see in the CPU-Z shot here:
The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X is a very capable CPU, with turbo speeds that can reach up to 4.5GHz.
Let us continue with Windows performance testing.