Intel’s 56-Core Sapphire Ridge Sweeps AMD’s 64-core Threadripper 3990X Early Benchmarks
For the past five years, AMD’s workstation-class Threadripper family has held an edge over Intel’s Xeon processors, either in terms of price/performance, maximum performance, or both. While Ryzen has offered increasingly difficult competition for Intel over time, AMD’s workstation edge has been larger and more consistently sustained than its consumer standing. Intel’s Alder Lake now offers much stronger competition versus AMD and Intel is keen to duplicate that edge in the server market with its upcoming platform, Sapphire Rapids. Now, leaked benchmarks suggest Intel’s 56-core Sapphire Rapids will be able to challenge the 64-core Ryzen Threadripper 3990X.
This isn’t terribly surprising. The Threadripper 3990X is based on AMD’s Zen 2 architecture, which means it’s missing a ~15 percent throughput improvement it would pick up from being based on Zen 3. These are leaked results provided by @yuuki_ans, so as always, take them with a grain of salt and apply them judiciously. The Xeon 8470 Platinum in question appears to have a peak turbo clock of 3.8GHz, but this could be because the chip is an engineering sample. Early ES CPUs are often clocked lower or have other performance errata that slow them down compared to final retail CPUs.
intel Xeon Platinum 8470
— 结城安穗-YuuKi_AnS🇨🇳 (@yuuki_ans) April 27, 2022
As far as comparisons to Threadripper are concerned, our own benchmarks showed the CPU at 25,790 in Cinebench R20, rising to 33,288 when overclocked to an all-core 4.3GHz. While we don’t expect AMD to ship a Threadripper configuration like this, the 64-chip remains startlingly overclockable. In V-Ray, the Xeon Platinum 8470 hits 74,449, compared to 74,254 for a stock-clocked Threadripper 3990X.
It’s interesting to see Sapphire Rapids winning past the Threadripper 3990X with just 56 cores compared to AMD’s 64 — a 15 percent core-count deficit is nothing to sneeze at, and AMD’s extra cores have long helped it win past Intel in the enterprise and workstation market. These results may explain why AMD will pack as many as 96 cores in its upcoming Zen 4 platform. Increasing core counts offers the smaller company a solid chance of staying ahead of the competition, particularly when combined with the single-thread improvements Zen 4 will bring to the table.
The other thing to remember about a chip like Sapphire Rapids is that it has far more memory bandwidth than the Ryzen Threadripper 3990X. AMD’s top-end workstation CPU is limited to four channels of DDR4, while Sapphire Rapids has eight channels of DDR5. We would not expect this to impact Cinebench results — that test is quite core-centric and is minimally impacted by the memory subsystem — but performance in other benchmarks could absolutely be impacted.
Intel has been aggressively pushing its own performance and product introductions and we expect that to continue in 2022 – 2023. AMD has done well so far in the face of a resurgent Intel, but Zen 4 will need to hit the market firing on all thrusters when it arrives later this year.