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Ryzen Threadripper 3 Thrashes Xeon

December 3, 2019

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

AMD continues its comeback surge with third-generation Ryzen Threadripper processors for high-end desktop PCs and workstations. They surpass Threadripper 2 by upgrading to the newest Zen 2 CPU cores, boosting their clock speeds, enlarging their caches, increasing their DRAM bandwidth, adopting PCI Express Gen4, and introducing a new internal design that gives all CPUs equal access to I/O interfaces and external memory. They also outrun and underprice Intel’s best Xeon X- and W-series processors targeting the same applications.

The first Threadripper 3 products are the 24-core 48-thread 3960X and 32-core 64-thread 3970X, which shipped in November. On deck for next year is the 64-core 128-thread 3990X. Base clock speeds for the first models are 3.8GHz (24 cores) and 3.7GHz (32 cores); their peak turbo frequency is 4.5GHz.

AMD positions these chips for content creators, video editors, software developers, and others who need supreme desktop performance. We consider them workstation processors because their prices elevate them beyond most PC users: $1,399 for the 3960X and $1,999 for the 3970X. But some similar Intel processors cost more than 3x as much. Another cost is new motherboards. To accommodate their additional I/O interfaces and higher power consumption—a blazing 280W TDP—they introduce a new processor socket and south-bridge chip.

Threadripper 3 overthrows Intel’s longtime leadership in high-end-desktop performance. AMD touts a broad range of benchmarks in which the new family surpasses the Xeon X- and W-series by 10% to 90%. Independent testers report Cinebench R20 scores that are 20% to 40% better than Intel’s. Although similar Xeons consume less power (205–255W TDP), Threadripper 3 achieves a power/performance advantage in most cases. Price/performance is no contest, as AMD undercuts Intel’s list prices by 33% to more than 50%.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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