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AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX Review: 24 Cores on a Budget

Dynamic Mode, Overclocking and Test Setup

AMD’s Threadripper processors employ a unique Multi-Chip Module (MCM) architecture that enables impressive modularity, but also hurts performance in certain workloads. The company masks much of this on the dual-die X-series chips. However, its WX series' four dies present new challenges. We previously covered the design's specifics. In short, though, two of the four dies are only used for their x86 cores, while the other two have active memory and PCIe controllers.

Windows' round robin thread scheduling mechanism tends to push important threads off of the I/O dies, requiring memory-hungry applications to access another die during execution, thereby hurting performance. AMD originally created a couple of operating modes to let its customers tailor the way they wanted Threadripper processors to behave. This did help side-step some of those compromises. But switching between the two modes required rebooting. Moreover, they didn't completely solve AMD's performance issues.

A new Dynamic Local Mode, which is strictly for Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX and 2970WX processors, runs as a background service inside the operating system and automatically detects memory-starved application threads (the top 13 to 16). It dynamically assigns them to dies with local memory controllers. Or, it can detect threads that aren't as sensitive to memory latency and move them to dies without memory controllers, thus optimizing the processor’s execution resources. 

This new implementation is transparent, and can be switched on without rebooting. AMD doesn't quantify the overhead of this service. However, we observed ~0.5% processor and 1MB memory utilization during normal use with the 2970WX.

For now, the service is enabled in AMD's Ryzen Master software. But the company plans to bake this functionality in to its chipset at some point in the future. The program works best with "mid-threaded" applications (as opposed to lightly-threaded ones). It also ignores apps that run on all cores and threads.

The performance measurements in the above chart were generated by AMD. We have our own tests on the following pages.

Overclocking

We tested several configurations, but stuck with Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) for all of our tuned Threadripper WX-series configurations. This automated feature overclocks the processor to to its fullest based upon available current, power, and thermal headroom. Due to cooling and power delivery constraints, we ran through our full test suite at stock settings and with PBO activated, rather than using an all-core overclock. Our PBO-enabled configurations did benefit from higher memory transfer rates, as detailed in the table below. As with any overclocking feature, using PBO voids your warranty. 

Comparison Products

Test Setup

We tested the second-gen Threadripper models with MSI's MEG X399 Creation motherboard.

Test System & Configuration
HardwareGermany AMD Socket AM4 (400-Series)AMD Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC 2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667, DDR4-3466AMD Socket SP3 (TR4)Threadripper Gen 2MSI MEG X399 Creation 4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 RGBIntel LGA 1151 (Z390)Intel Core i9-9900KMSI MEG Z390 Godlike2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667 & DDR4-3466Intel LGA 2066 Intel Core i7, Core i9 MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC 4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2666All SystemsGeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition (Gaming) Nvidia Quadro P6000 (Workstation)1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System SSD) 4x 1TB Crucial MX300 (Storage, Images)be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11, 850W Windows 10 Pro (All Updates)U.S. AMD Socket SP3 (TR4)Threadripper Gen 1 & 2MSI MEG X399 Creation 4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933, DDR4-3200, DDR4-3466Intel LGA 2066Intel Core i9-7960X, -7980XE, -7900XMSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2666, DDR4-3200AMD Socket AM4 (400-Series)AMD Ryzen 7 2700X MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933Intel LGA 1151 (Z390)Intel Core i9-9900KMSI MEG Z390 Godlike2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667 & DDR4-3466All Systems EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE 1TB Samsung PM863SilverStone ST1500-TI, 1500WWindows 10 Pro (All Updates)
CoolingGermanyAMD Wraith RipperAlphacool Ice Block XPXEnermax LiqTech 240 TR4Thermal Grizzly KryonautU.S.Wraith RipperCorsair H115iEnermax Liqtech 240 TR4 II
Power Consumption MeasurementContact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card) Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply 2x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500 MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function4x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100 kHz, DC) 4x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500 MHz) 1x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function
Thermal Measurement1x Optris PI640 80 Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording
Acoustic MeasurementNTI Audio M2211 (with Calibration File, Low Cut at 50Hz) Steinberg UR12 (with Phantom Power for Microphones)Creative X7, Smaart v.7 Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2m (L x D x H) Perpendicular to Center of Noise Source(s), Measurement Distance of 50cm Noise Level in dB(A) (Slow), Real-time Frequency Analyzer (RTA) Graphical Frequency Spectrum of Noise

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