Friday , April 16 2021

Hands-on with AMD’s 32-core, 64-thread Threadripper 3970x, Ars Technica


    

      wow, it’s hot in your office –

             

AMD’s monstrous new ThreadRipper hammers Intel everywhere it counts — except AI.

      

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                          This is AMD’s ThreadRipper 3970 x, mounted on an ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme board, with an NZXT Kraken X 62 fluid cooler and Corsair Dominator Platinum RAM.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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                          As soon as the ThreadRipper 3970 x system powers on, 280 mm of cooling fans spin up to “leafblower mode.”

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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                          If you like bling, Asus’ ROG Zenith II Extreme is the board for you. Pictured here: an on-mobo display that usually shows you the CPU temperature. (It rotates through “ROG,” “ZENITH II,” and “EXTREME” when the system power is off.)

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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                          This is what our TR 3970 x test system looks like in a dark room … when it’s poweredoff.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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                          We aren’t big fans of bling, but we have to admit to getting some guilty pleasure out of watching the Kraken x 62 ‘s LED rings slowly spinning around.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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AMD’s new 32 – Core / 64 – Thread Threadripper 3970 x continues AMD’s 2019 trend of sweeping the field in desktop and server processors. In recent weeks, Ars has tested Threadripper head-to-head versus Intel’s top-of-the-line i9 – 10980 XE High End Desktop (HEDT) CPU, as well as its i9 – 9900 KS gaming CPU. To nobody’s surprise, the Threadripper is faster — alotFaster — than either, although with some caveats.

Power

When comparing the rest of the Ryzen 3000 line to Intel’s 2019 desktop CPU lineup, one of the standout metrics is thermal design power (TDP). Non-threadripper Ryzen 3000 CPUs meet or beat the Intel desktop lineup on performanceandTDP, which means quieter, cooler systems that don’t cost as much to keep running. All that changes once you leave the “normal” desktop line and go Threadripper. With Threadripper, AMD is clearly far more concerned with raw power than niceties like running quiet or cool.

      

      

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                          Threadripper 3970 x is a big, hungry beast. If you don’t have system loads that demand that much power, you’re pouring money into the power company’s pocket.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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                          The difference between Precision Boost Overdrive and default clock settings is almost nonexistent in this Cinebench R 20 screenshot — but the power draw shot up from 403 W to 472 W, just like it did under Passmark.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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                          We weren’t kidding about the power draw with Precision Boost Overdrive enabled. Read it and weep — or gleefully warm your hands over it. We won’t judge.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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The above chart shows the whole system power draw as measured by a Kill-a-Watt power meter. Power draw was tested at minimum shown idling for one minute at the Windows 10 desktop and maximum during Passmark all-core CPU benchmarking.

Just for fun, we also did a little testing of the Threadripper with Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) automatic overclocking enabled. The difference between default and PBO boosted clocks is more clear at the power meter than it is in the benchmarks themselves. Maximum power draw shoots up by about 20 – 25% with PBO enabled, but the actual performance hardly changed in most benchmarks.

Performance

      

      

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                          Threadripper vs Intel on Passmark all-cores testing is a mismatch — like taking your Camaro SS to the 1/4 mile strip and pulling up next to a funnycar.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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                          In Cinebench R 20 tests , the Threadripper 3970 x doesn’t just beat HEDT parts — it eked out a win vs Intel’s$ 7, 200(C /) ******************************************************************************************************************************************** (Xeon Platinum) , too.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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                          The value proposition for Threadripper 3970 x is clear in this chart, where we divide the R 20 score by the cost of each CPU in US dollars.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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                          Threadripper 3970 x narrowly loses out to Intel’s high-end gaming CPU, i9 – 9900 KS — but still handily beats Intel’s i9 – 10980 XE HEDT CPU.

                                                            

                                                  Jim Salter

                                      

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(OS) (Windows) **************************************************************************************************************************************************** (Professional)

(3.7GHz) – core AMD Threadripper (x) 4.5GHz boost (with 144 MB L2 / L3 cache — expected retail $ 2, 000

(RAM)

(GPU) (MSI Geforce RTX) Super Ventus – $ 420 atAmazon(HDD) (Samsung) Pro 1TB SSD – $ 275 atAmazon

(NZXT Kraken X) fluid cooler with 280 mm radiator – $ 140 atAmazon

(PSU) (EVGA) GQ Semi Modular PSU – $ 130 at (Amazon)(Chassis)

Specs at a glance: Threadripper 3970 x, as tested
CPU
(GB Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4) – $ 400 atAmazon
Motherboard ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme motherboard – $ (atAmazon
Cooling
Praxis Wetbench test chassis – $ 200 atAmazon
Price as tested ≈ $ 4, 165

In the above performance charts, we go head-to- head with some Intel parts. Some test results were sourced from public leaderboards and are marked by an asterisk next to the CPU name. Results for Threadripper 3970 x, i9 – 10980 XE, and i9 – 9900 KS were taken directly by Ars. The results show you just what you’re buying with that extravagant power draw — a system that kicks dirt in Intel’s HEDT parts and runs away laughing.

For general-purpose CPU performance evaluation, we like Passmark’s CPU test. Threadripper (x doesn’t) ********************************** (quite) double i9 – 10980 XE’s score there, but it comes pretty close . Moving on to Cinebench R 20 —Which is more appropriate for specific graphics-rendering and content creation evaluation — the Threadripper didn’t just beat Intel’s HEDT line, it even eked out a narrow victory over the top-of-the-line Xeon Platinum 8168 .

That “victory” is more of a draw within the margin of error, but the reason it matters is clear in the next chart, where we show the Cinebench R 20 performance-per-dollar by dividing each CPU’s score by its retail price. Normally, you’d expect to pay a pretty sharp penalty moving from HEDT-grade to high-end server-grade CPUs — but the 3970 x delivers equivalent performance to the 8168 at under a third of the cost. Meanwhile, although it’s roughly double the cost of the 10980 XE, it’s also roughly double the performance.

AI inference workloads

The advantage conferred by Intel's software development work in the AI space is extremely clear. Yes, OpenVINO is an Intel-developed project—but it handily outperforms Tensorflow, on either AMD or Intel CPUs.

Enlarge/The advantage conferred by Intel’s software development work in the AI ​​space is extremely clear. Yes, OpenVINO is an Intel-developed project — but it handily outperforms Tensorflow, on either AMD or Intel CPUs.

Jim Salter

The one place that Threadripper 3970 x did (not) get a victory is in AI inference workloads. We tested Threadripper against the i9 – 10980 XE using the (OpenVINO) toolkit and (AIXPRT) ‘s reference configurations, and the advantage conferred by Intel’s Deep Learning Boost (DLB) x 86 extension was stark. Although it’s a much less performant processor for general-purpose workloads, the i9 – 10980 XE was able to deliver double to triple the image recognition inference throughput.

In testing with Tensorflow (results not shown), the 3970 x performed roughly on-par with The 10980 XE — which is still a serious upset, from a CPU that’s normally half the performance (and half the price) of the 3970 x.

        

Listing image by Jim Salter

                                        

                  

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