Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) will complete its Ryzen 3000 series desktop family on November 25. On that date, it will bring its Ryzen 9 3950X and two Ryzen Threadripper CPUs (central processing units) to the market. This year, AMD introduced many firsts in its Ryzen family that is being built on its 7nm (nanometer) Zen 2 architecture. It added a higher-end Ryzen 9 line up for the mainstream.
The first CPU in the Ryzen 9 family was a 12-core/24-thread Ryzen 9 3900X. This CPU gained so much popularity that it has been out of stock at major retailers even 2.5 months after launch. A September article of Tom’s Hardware showed that retailers have spiked the price of Ryzen 9 3900X. The CPU, which debuted at $499, was selling for as high as $580 at Newegg. AMD had to delay the launch of Ryzen 9 3950X in order to meet the demand for Ryzen 9 3900X.
After strong success of Ryzen 9 3900X, 3950X comes
Last week, AMD unveiled Ryzen 9 3950X, which offers four additional cores and 100 MHz (megahertz) higher boost clock than 3900X for a $250 premium. This additional performance comes at the same TDP (thermal design power) of 105W (watts).
To leverage the 3950X’s additional core count and clock speed, AMD is recommending users install new firmware on their motherboard. The update includes a fix for AMD’s boost clock algorithm and other refinements. The update will bring all Ryzen models under one codebase, ensuring support for some older Ryzen models.
What does all this technical information mean? Is it wise to spend an additional $250 for a Ryzen 9 3950X? We will look for these answers in this article.
What factors determine a CPU’s performance?
According to AMD’s SEC filings, a CPU’s performance is majorly determined by three elements: instructions-per-cycle, clock speed, and power consumption. The clock is “the rate at which a CPU’s internal logic operates, measured in units of gigahertz or billions of cycles per second.”
Other factors that boost a CPU’s performance are the number and type of cores, the cores ability to perform multiple instructions simultaneously, and TDP. AMD leveraged all these elements to segment its Ryzen CPUs. Also, the company increased its core count and boost clock speed for higher variants.
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X leverages core count and clock speed
In Ryzen 9 3950X, AMD unlocked all cores that can perform multiple instructions simultaneously at a base speed of 3.5 GHz (gigahertz). Like all Ryzen CPUs, Ryzen 3950X has a mix of faster and slower cores. AMD claims that two cores of the 16-core 3950X can be overclocked to a speed of 4.7 GHz. This improved its single-threaded performance by 1% as compared to 3900X on Cinebench.
AMD CPUs have outperformed Intel Corp. (INTC) CPUs in multi-threaded performance by adding more cores that can perform multiple tasks at a certain speed. In early October, The Inquirer, citing a premature posting from Gigabyte, stated that Radeon 3950X achieved 4.4GHz speed across all 16 cores. Intel’s Core i9-9900K achieved a higher 4.6GHz across all eight cores. However, its overall multithreaded performance fell short of AMD’s Ryzen 9 3950X, which has a higher core-count.
AMD eyes TDP to improve Ryzen’s performance
The suffix “X” stands for clock speed and the resulting TDP. So far, we saw that AMD is improving Ryzen’s performance by improving clock speed across all cores and boost speed across some cores. The higher the clock speed, the more heat a CPU generates. TDP measures this heat. TDP is used to determine the type of cooler a user should use to improve the CPU’s overclocking performance.
AMD partially reduces Ryzen’s TDP by transitioning to a smaller 7nm process node, which increases transistor density and reduced power consumption. This process node advantage made AMD’s Ryzen 9 more power-efficient than Intel’s Core i9. Also, Ryzen 9 has a 105W TDP compared to i9’s 165W. However, the CPU’s power consumption and TDP rises when overclocked.
Also, Tom’s Hardware noted that Ryzen 9 3900X TDP rose to 140W during heavy workloads. This means Ryzen 9 3950X TDP will rise more than 140W when overclocked, given its higher core count and boost clock speed. Hence, AMD recommends a closed-loop 280mm (millimeter) watercooler.
AMD is leveraging the TDP element to improve its CPU’s performance. It is introducing a new feature called Eco-Mode with Ryzen 9 3950X. This Eco-Mode is like a power-saving button that reduces TDP and power draw while retaining most of the CPU’s performance. According to AMD, on the Eco-Mode, Ryzen 9 3950X will deliver 77% performance while consuming 44% less power and generating 7*C less heat. It claims that Ryzen 9 3950X can deliver up to 2.34x performance-per-watt over Intel’s Core i9-9920X.
Which is better 3900X or 3950X?
New gamers and PC builders have flooded the internet, asking if CPU– 3900 is better than 3950X. We will get to know the results after November 25 as third-party reviews compare AMD and Intel CPU performance. As for AMD investors, the company will benefit from a richer product mix, which will boost its revenue and earnings.
The next exciting time for AMD will come in early January at the CES 2020 (Consumer Electronics Show). All eyes will be on AMD CEO Lisa Su as she gives a glimpse of the company’s 2020 products.