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Threadripper 3990X and 3970X: Ripping Up the Competition?
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Short on the heels of the i9-10980XE processor, which has been priced to compete against the Threadripper 3950X, AMD has released two third-generation Ryzen Threadripper CPUs. The 3990X and 3970X represent another leap forward for the company, which has recently managed to catch up to Intel when it comes to instructions per clock. Using a smaller 7nm process, versus Intelís ageing 14nm process, AMD can also squeeze more cores into their CPUs. Something they are using to great effect with these two new chips.






Getting to Know the 3970X and 3690


These chips have some eye-watering numbers attached to them. First, letís look at the top model, the 3990X.

There are a whopping 64 cores and 128 threads, with a base clock of 2.9GHz and a Max Boost Clock of 4.3GHz. It has an unlocked clock multiplier and 256MB of L3 cache. 3MB of L1 and 32MB of L2. The new platform, sTRX4, supports PCIe 4.0, with a whopping 88 PCIe lanes. Memory support includes DDR4 3200 with four memory channels.

The 3960X has all the same core technological features, but cuts the core count to 24, with 48 threads. L1 and L2 cache are cut to the same proportions, 2.25MB and 12MB respectively. The base clock speed is a touch faster at 3.8GHz.

The Price Performance Wars are On!

With these two processors, AMD have taken the high-end desktop CPU crown, forcing Intel to compete on price. Their i9-10980XE CPU retails for about $1000. The 3790X goes for $2000 and the 3960X for $1400. Remember that the 9980XE launched at $2000, so this is a massive slash from Intelís side.

The Intel Option

It feels weird to write this after so many years of it not being true, but Intel is now the underdog in this product segment. Another flip is the fact that these new Threadripper parts require new motherboards. While you can slot the new Intel chip right in place where its predecessor sat, using the X299 chipset.

The problem is that if you already have a 9980XE, there isnít much reason to fork out for the new chip. Unless youíre running machine learning work that takes advantage of the new ML boost technology from Intel, which is a big step up.

If you are building a completely new system, there is a case to be made for the $1000 10980XE. The motherboards are cheaper and more mature and if you donít need more than 36 threads, you donít gain any advantage from Threadripper. However, AMDs new architecture scales almost in a linear way. Which means that if you have enough work to feed all 32 Threadripper cores, youíll get just about double the performance compared to the Intel machine. For professional workloads, thatís certainly worth it.