AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Review 64 Cores for a Workstation

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AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Front In Package With Lego Monster Truck
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Front In Package With Lego Monster Truck

Five to ten years from now, people will look at this title and think, “of course”. For today though, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X is considered a monstrous chip by just about any standard. With 64 cores and 128 threads, AMD has a very specific audience, or perhaps two, as their focus for this part. In our review, we are going to see what the chip offers, and give our perspective on those markets.

Key stats for the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X: 64 cores / 128 threads with a 2.9GHz base clock and 4.3GHz turbo boost. There is 256MB of L3 cache. The CPU features a 280W TDP. These are $3990 list price parts.

Here is what the lscpu output looks like for an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X:

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Lscpu
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Lscpu

The chip itself utilizes a centralized large I/O die along with eight CCD chiplets. The CCD chiplets each have eight cores and 32MB of L3 cache which gives us a total of 256MB L3 cache and 64 cores/ 128 threads.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 64 Core Topology
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 64 Core Topology

You may have noticed our Lego monster truck that has invaded our photos. This is for an analogy. The Threadripper 3990X is a monster truck of a CPU. In the same way that a monster truck is great at jumping off dirt ramps and crushing cards, but maybe not so great at going grocery shopping (unless you are “that guy”) that is how we would characterize the Threadripper 3990X performance. It is great at some things, but less ideal for others unless you are “that guy.”

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Box
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Box

AMD is starting to make this a tradition with the Threadripper line. The lower-end and midrange Threadripper parts are designed for more general-purpose workstations, but AMD offers a maximum core count version for specific markets. The previous generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX went up to 32 cores but had a four NUMA node topology with two nodes that had no local memory attached. In contrast, the third-generation Threadripper 3990X is a single NUMA node that has all four channels of memory attached. This is a much better configuration for those who want to see a better all-around performance. That change alone makes this a much more usable halo platform than the previous generation. Still, one gets a total of 64 cores with only four channels of DDR4. One also must deal with the power and heat draw from 64 cores. In many workloads, this works very well. In others, the architecture is going to be challenged.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Front With Lego Monster Truck
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Front With Lego Monster Truck

The chip itself is the same size and uses the same mounting as the AMD EPYC 7002 Series. Make no mistake, the platforms for the Threadripper 3990X are designed for the workstation market.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Under
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Under

Next, we are going to discuss the AMD TRX40 platform, however, we should point out that AMD could make a part like this with a full set of 128x PCIe lanes and 8 channel DDR4. The more general-purpose 64-core AMD workstation part would likely be something like the AMD EPYC 7H12 designed for workstations. Even if AMD had to raise TDP to 300W it would be worth it for those in the segment.

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.

AMD TRX40 Platform
AMD TRX40 Platform

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.

Test Configuration

Here is the test configuration we used for the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X:

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.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X And 3960X Additional Box Contents
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X And 3960X Additional Box Contents

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 3990X (64 core/128 thread) that you can see in the CPU-Z shot here:

AMD Threadripper 3990x CPUz
AMD Threadripper 3990x CPUz

The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X is a very capable CPU, with turbo speeds that can reach up to 4.3GHz.

Let us continue with Windows performance testing.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I know it’s an ad, but the point made in the “Red Digital Cinema gets 64-Core Performance” video is what makes these CPUs so important:

    Jarred Land: When I see this, how fast it is, it lets me get a liiiiiittle bit more aggressive with what we’re going to do next. With what we have on our roadmap, please, keep going, keep going, because we’re gonna need it.

    Everything is connected. You can’t push the boundaries in one field if the technology in another is lacking.

  2. Great review, John.

    Just a thought/suggestion for a future article: It’d be great to see a round up of these workstation CPUs benchmarked with 16, 32, and 64 threads loaded. Particularly given how the higher end models can be quite a lot better binned silicon and how the CPU boosting technologies are implemented. It’d be really interesting to see the power draw and performance to see if the higher end models perform similarly at less power at moderate loads. I know previously it’s sometimes been better and cheaper, TCO wise, to buy the more expensive models for finish quicker then sleep efficiency advantages and also the better silicon – am curious if this might be the case for the 3990X.

  3. According to Anandtech, you need Windows for Workstations to be able to use more than 64 threads effectively. I don’t see this being commented on in this article. Has that Windows version been used for the testing?

  4. @Nikolay
    you can use more than 64t but consumer versions partition it into processor groups thinking they are on separate sockets. However someone had mentioned that his Windows Pro machine only sees one socket in the task manager so I don’t know. Maybe it’s due to firmware or uefi settings? Or a much more recent update/patch or chipset driver package from AMD?

  5. Imagine what it will be like in 3-5 years after Intel and AMD go a few more rounds. Looking forward to purchasing a 256 core 512 threads . Maybe then I can install Oracle Fusion Applications in my home lab.

  6. I have a 3990X machine here that I initially set up with Windows 10 Pro and then for fun decided to “upgrade” to Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. Can safely say there was 0% difference between the two OS, zero difference in how thread scheduling works, both have two NUMA nodes for the CPU.

    The only change is that my bank account lost around $150 for the upgrade fee. Every other feature that Win 10 Workstation offers is basically useless far as my purposes.

  7. Is it a do for Short list linked compatible single dual quad socks momo,s for all cpu’n review White Sheets. Thank I Today, Another Good Day With God

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