AMD Threadripper 2970WX & 2920X Evaluation

AMD launches new 12 and 24 core 2nd generation thread ripper parts known as the 2920X and 2970WX. Almost three months have passed since we first tested the flagship TR 2950X and 2990WX, the 16- and 32-core models. Still, AMD warned us when the rest of the 2nd generation Threadripper lineup wouldn't arrive until October, and here we are at the end of the month.

Before we get to the test and benchmark results, you will find a brief refresh of the design and the technical data here …

There are two models in the WX series, the "W" meaning that it is a workstation series. The 2990WX and 2970WX models are configured very differently from the 2950X and 2920X processors. While the 12- and 16-core processors contain two Zeppelin chips, the 24-core and 32-core models have four.

As a rule, such a configuration has 4 two-channel memory controllers for 8 channels. However, this is not possible on the X399 platform, so these heavy core parts are limited to four-channel memories.

Although there are two other Zeppelin matrices, the additional matrices, according to AMD, are Compte matrices. This means that they have no local PCIe or DRAM access because they have to get to the I / O chips through the Infinity Fabric. Since there are twice as many chips, the infinity fabric bandwidth is also halved, so that throughput between the chips is now only 25 Gbit / s, provided you are using DDR4-3200 memory.

Because of this design, in which two of the chips are displayed without direct access to the DRAM, the 2970WX and 2990WX, unlike the 2920X and 2950X, only use NUMA. AMD claimed that this Quad-NUMA configuration enabled them to build the world's first 32-core consumer processor, and equally important that they could do so while maintaining backward compatibility with existing TR4 products.

This change in the internal functioning of the CPU caused some compatibility or performance problems with games and some applications, namely Windows 10. The Windows 10 scheduler has proven to be very inefficient in managing these heavy core CPUs, and we found significantly better performance when testing the same applications with a Linux based operating system.

Unfortunately, this remains a big problem for the 2990WX – and we suspect the 2970WX – and while Microsoft hasn't done anything to improve the situation, AMD has done so. The latest version of the Ryzen Master software, which is available for download today, introduces a dynamic local mode. What matters is that you don't have to reset the system to activate it.

In AMD's words, dynamic local mode automatically migrates the system's most demanding application threads to the 2990WX and 2970WX CPU cores with local memory access. In other words, applications and games that prefer local DRAM access get it automatically, but applications that can scale to many cores can still do so.

Price Cores / threads Base / Turbo clock (MHz) L2 cache (MB) L3 cache (MB) TDP
TR 2990WX $ 1720 32/64 3.0 / 4.2 16 64 250 W.
TR 2970WX $ 1299 24/48 12 64
TR 2950X $ 900 16/32 3.5 / 4.4 8th 32 180 W.
TR 1950X $ 680 16/32 3.4 / 4.2 8th 32
TR 2920X $ 649 December 24 3.5 / 4.3 6 32
TR 1920X $ 390 December 24 3.5 / 4.2 6 32

It's great to see AMD working to improve the user experience with these high-end desktop processors. Ultimately, however, the greatest improvements will be made when Microsoft updates the Windows scheduler. Currently, the 2990WX and 2970WX are safer purchases for users of a Linux-based operating system, but they are still a problem in Windows for certain tasks such as rendering.

In particular, the 12-core part is practically identical to the 16-core part, minus the obvious reduction in the number of cores, and this also applies to the comparison of the 24-core and 32-core parts.

All systems were configured with DDR4-3200 CL14 memory for testing. The quad-channel platforms received 32 GB and the dual-channel systems 16 GB. The Threadripper CPUs were compared to the Enermax Liqtech 360 TR4, while the Skylake-X CPUs used a 360 mm open loop setup. This does not affect the share performance in favor of Intel. The 2nd generation Coffee Lake and Ryzen parts were both tested with the Corsair H115i Pro. The graphics card of choice is Gigabyte's RTX 2080 Ti Gaming OC.

Benchmarks

As expected, the 2920X is roughly equivalent to the 1920X and 2950X when it comes to persistent memory bandwidth performance. However, the 2970WX surprised with a throughput of 67 GB / s, which is a few gigabytes faster than the 2990WX and 6% more memory bandwidth than a typical Threadripper CPU.

Cinebench single-thread performance is exactly where we expected it to be. The 2920X scored 178 points, on par with the 2950X, while the 2970X matched the 2990WX and the older 1920X.

Of course, it's multithreaded performance that's most important for these core CPUs, and here we see how the 2970WX is cleaned up and ranks second after the 32-core version. With a score of around 4300 points, it was just over 30% faster than the Intel Core i9-7980XE. In the meantime, the 2920X is only 25% slower than the Intel 16-Core 7960X compared to the 1920X.

Again, the 2920X offers a small performance improvement over the 1920X, this time in our Blender test. The 2970WX is also a big step up from the 7980XE as it was a little over 30% faster again. It was also 36% faster than the Threadripper 2950X and only took 9.5 seconds. That means it was only 13% slower than the 32-core 2990WX.

The 2970WX was still faster than the 7980XE in Corona, although unlike previous tests where it won by 30% or more, it is only 8% faster here. The 2920X was again a few percent faster than the 1920X and 9 percent faster than the 9900K, which ran without a TDP limit.

The last rendering benchmark we're looking at is V-Ray. Here, too, the 2970WX does a short job with the more expensive 18-core processor from Intel, here it has outperformed the 7980XE by 22%. It was also only 13% slower than the 2990WX, which is a solid result for the new 24-core CPU. The 2920X also does well, although it only offers 5% more power than the 1920X, here it was 13% faster than the Core i9-9900K.

The PCMark 10 gaming benchmark shows that the 2970WX performs much better than the 2990WX, although the 2950X is still by far the best Threadripper CPU and the best CPU overall.

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