The most costly desktop CPU to date is what we’re looking at today, and shockingly, it’s not made by Intel. The unique occasion reminded us of an Intel processor we once really liked, the Broadwell-E Core i7-6950X, which was introduced in 2016 and served as the first 10-core desktop CPU.
In full disclosure, we didn’t actually pay for the 6950X despite the fact that we really liked it. It was much more fun to purchase the product without paying the outrageous $1,700 price tag. Intel essentially increased the price by 75% and added two additional cores to the previous model, the 5960X, for that astounding price.
All bets were off by the time they delivered their second 10-core component since AMD had finally pulled themselves together and started scoring goals with the Zen architecture. The 10-core Core i7-7900X was released at a price of $1,000, then refreshed as the 9900X at a price of $1,000, and refreshed one more as a $600 part in the 10900X due to fierce competition from the first-generation Threadripper series. We generally concur that the 10-core part’s $600 price tag is excessive.
We want to emphasize the point that, just four years ago, the highest high-end desktop platform could do was a $1,700 10-core processor that could run all of its cores at 3.4 GHz right out of the box. AMD is now offering a CPU with almost 2.5 times the price but over 6 times the number of cores.
While Intel is allegedly rushing to release a 22-core HEDT component, we highly doubt they will do so at this time. Even their 18-core model is currently unavailable. In principle, Intel is currently offering 18 cores for $1,000, but in practice, this isn’t possible because the 10980XE isn’t available in stores. Accordingly, a 7980XE or 9980XE, whichever model you can locate, costs roughly $2,000 if you want an 18-core Intel CPU, so good luck with a 22-core component.
AMD can charge a significant premium as Intel is not a competitor in this market. To be honest, a 64-core, 128-thread processor that can deliver the performance we’re about to demonstrate for $4,000 isn’t as ridiculous as it first appears to be.
AMD Ryzen TR 3990X Specifications
This is a Zen 2-based processor with 64 cores and 128 threads. It consists of eight “core complex dies” or 8-core chiplets made with TSMC’s 7nm manufacturing process. The combined transistor count of all those dies, which also includes an input/output die made with GlobalFoundries’ 12nm technology, totals to an astounding and, to be honest, unfathomable 39.5 billion transistors.
As we dig deeper into the specifications, the staggering numbers keep coming: it has 32 MB of L2 cache and 256 MB of L3 cache. The CPU can operate under a 280 watt TDP because the cores can run at speeds ranging from 2.9 to 4.3 GHz depending on the workload.
The AMD Ryzen TR 3990X is backwards compatible with existing TRX40 motherboards, just like the other Threadripper 3000 CPUs, however you’ll need to upgrade the BIOS to get the optimum performance.
All current motherboards can supply enough power to fulfill the 280W TDP CPU because AMD built the foundation for the AMD Ryzen TR 3990X during the design phase of the TRX40. Given the TDP, cooling will have a significant impact on the chip’s performance. AMD claims that existing watercoolers will work with the 3990X, but as we’ll see on the following page, if you want the best performance, you should get a powerful model.
The 32-core 3970X and 64-core 3990X have a price difference of almost $2,000 in addition to the obvious difference of 32 cores. That leaves a middle ground where a 48-core machine would be justified, but AMD claims it has no current intentions for such a device.
The AMD Ryzen TR 3990X, like its HEDT predecessors, supports up to 256GB of quad-channel DDR4-3200 memory, which is less memory support than EPYC’s eight memory channels. The motherboard vendor must qualify ECC memory even when the processor supports it. By DIMM population and rank, the memory frequency support matrix changes.
AMD Ryzen TR 3990X Specs
|# of CPU Cores||64|
|Unlocked for Overclocking||Yes|
|Max. Operating Temperature (Tjmax)||95°C|
|Product Family||AMD Ryzen™ Processors|
|# of Threads||128|
|Product Line||AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ Processors|
|Max. Boost Clock||Up to 4.3GHz|
|Processor Technology for CPU Cores||TSMC 7nm FinFET|
|Thermal Solution (PIB)||Not included, liquid cooling recommended|
|*OS Support||Windows 10 – 64-Bit EditionRHEL x86 64-BitUbuntu x86 64-Bit*Operating System (OS) support will vary by manufacturer.|
AMD Ryzen TR 3990X Benchmarks & Tests
DCC software performance
The first group of benchmarks measures frame rates when editing a model in the editor within popular DCC software. Since panning and zooming the viewport are mostly GPU-driven operations, I haven’t measured performance during these operations like I have in previous reviews.
As you can see, model editing prefers greater boost clock rates rather than a large number of CPU cores. Even though the AMD Ryzen TR 3990X wins out, the significantly less expensive i9-9900K finishes in second. These programs seem to prefer the Zen 2 architecture of the 3990X, giving it the advantage over the 9900K’s higher base and boost clock speeds. Following closely behind the 9900K is the 2990WX, while the 1950X gets the final position. Although the order is constant, the performance of each CPU varies little.
As CPU renderers are built to utilise many cores, rendering is where the Threadripper CPUs really shine. When clock speed and CPU architecture are fixed, performance often scales virtually linearly with core count. While the others were operated in CPU-only mode, some of these applications are pure CPU renderers.
The Threadripper 3990X dominates all rendering benchmarks, far outpacing every other CPU. The 3990X significantly outperforms the previous generation 2990WX thanks to its 64 cores and switch to the Zen 2 architecture, and it dominates the 16-core 1950X and the 8-core 9900K.
Next, we have some VFX simulation benchmarks, which include two liquid simulations and one fire simulation. For the liquid simulations, we used the Hybrido solver from RealFlow and the FLIP solver from Houdini, and for the fire simulation, we used the Pyro solver from Houdini. Simulator programs frequently use a lot of threads, just like renderers do.
The AMD Ryzen TR 3990X dominates all of the simulation tests, just like it did in the rendering benchmarks. (It’s also important to point out that if the 64GB of RAM in the Xidax machine hadn’t been used to its full capacity, both Houdini simulations would have run even more quickly. Performance dropped substantially once the application had to page data out to disk.) It’s interesting to note the significant performance difference between the 3990X and 2990WX using RealFlow. Given that the 1950X isn’t far behind in this test, I have a suspicion that the 2990WX is underperforming.
AMD Ryzen TR 3990X Conclusion
For my own situation, I would consider getting either the 3960X or 3970X for my content development tasks. I’m using the 3960X right now, and I have to tell, it’s incredible. Prior to this, I was using the Threadripper 2950X, and before switching to the 3rd generation of Threadripper, I briefly tested the Core i9-9900K in Premiere. The transition from the 9900K to the 3960X was substantial, and although though Threadripper is substantially more expensive, it also gives me access to far more functionality.
For instance, I could apply the warp stabilizer effect to roughly 6–8 b-roll clips at once using the Core i9. If there were any more, the system would bog down and frequently crash. With the 3960X, I can warp stabilize all the b-roll in a 10- to 15-minute video, around 20 to 30 clips at once, and still use Photoshop to generate a thumbnail without experiencing any lag. It’s amazing and has significantly sped up my process.
For those who can leverage a 64-core processor, like as visual effects artists, programmers developing projects, and others, we envisage the AMD Ryzen TR 3990X performing similarly.
Overall, this is a fantastic AMD product that not only excites professionals today but also sets the path for future core-heavy desktop parts that will be more reasonably priced.
AMD Ryzen TR 3990X