AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Processor Released

Introduction

On November 14, 2019, the review embargo for the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X mainstream desktop processor expired. As a result, there were a flood of written and video reviews of AMD’s new flagship processor for the mainstream market segment. This 7nm processor has 16C/32T with a base clock speed of 3.5GHz, a max boost clock of up to 4.7GHz, a 64MB L3 cache, a 105W TDP, and PCIe 4.0 support. The SRP is $749.99.

It is essentially the same Zen 2 processor as the 12C/24T AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (with two CCX) with four more cores and slightly different base and max boost clock speeds that has a SRP of $499.99. One important difference is that the 3900X comes with an included Wraith Prism CPU cooler, while the 3950X does not include a CPU cooler. AMD actually recommends an all-in-one liquid cooler with a 280mm radiator (or greater) for the 3950X.

This is actually a strange recommendation, since according to several reviews, the 3950X runs cooler than the 3900X (in an otherwise identical system). I suspect that you would also be fine with a high quality, large air cooler from Noctua. This apparent paradox is due to better binning of the chiplets used in the 3950X, which lets them run at lower voltage at the same clock speeds compared to the 3900X. This reduces energy usage and reduces the heat output.


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Figure 1: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X


My Analysis

After reading and watching multiple reviews of the Ryzen 9 3950X, I am very impressed, more so than I thought I would be. It’s single-threaded performance is comparable to the 8C/16T Intel Core i9-9900K and 9900KS on most benchmarks, while its multi-threaded performance is far superior to those two flagship Intel desktop processors on nearly every benchmark. To make matters worse for Intel, the 3950X has significantly better single-threaded performance than Intel’s much more expensive current  Skylake-X HEDT processors and comparable or better multi-threaded performance on most benchmarks.

The Ryzen 9 3950X also dominates the existing 12nm 16C/32T AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X HEDT processor in both single and multi-threaded performance. It does have less memory capacity (two memory channels and four DIMM slots vs. four memory channels and eight DIMM slots), but it supports faster memory. It has fewer PCIe lanes, but PCIe 4.0 lanes have twice the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 lanes.

Intel really doesn’t have a viable competitive response in the mainstream or HEDT segments available now, or on the short-term horizon (meaning the next six to twelve months). About all Intel can do to try to minimize the damage is to reduce their prices pretty significantly. They have the financial resources to do that if they want to, and I predict they will. If you simply must have an Intel processor, I suggest you wait a month or two to take advantage of this.

Who Is This Processor For?

Despite AMD’s marketing, you don’t really need an AMD Ryzen 3950X for gaming. If all you do is game, you can use a less expensive AMD or Intel processor, and spend the savings on a better video card. If you are a hard-core content creator, where rendering and encoding time is a really big deal, where time is literally money, then you would be better off waiting for the upcoming 3rd Generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors that will have more cores, more memory channels and capacity, and more PCIe 4.0 capacity.

The target audience for this processor is someone who does some content creation, some development, perhaps likes to run multiple VMs or containers, and also likes to do some gaming. It is a versatile, relatively affordable mainstream consumer processor (compared to an HEDT system) that has the performance and capacity to handle most common workloads very well.

To be clear, most people don’t really need to go this high up in the desktop stack to get great general purpose desktop performance. You can use something like an 8C/16T AMD Ryzen 7 3700X or even a 6C/12T AMD Ryzen 5 3600 for a lot less money. If you are running an older Intel 4C/8T desktop processor including as new as a Core i7-7700K, moving to even a lower-end AMD Zen 2 processor system is going to be a substantial upgrade.


Selected Reviews

Here are some reviews to watch and read.

Intel Could Take YEARS to Catch Up… – Ryzen 9 3950X Review

Ryzen 9 3950X Review, The New Performance King!

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review & Benchmarks – The Intel Destroyer

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review: Premiere, Blender, Overclocking, & Gaming CPU Benchmarks

Ryzen 3950X Review & Benchmarks: 16-Core Dominance!

RYZEN 3950X vs. TR 2950X, i9-9900KS – Gaming, Rendering, OC

Ryzen 9 3950X review: AMD’s 16-core CPUs is an epic end-zone dance over Intel

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review: 16 Cores on 7nm with PCIe 4.0

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review: 16 Cores Muscles Into the Mainstream

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review: A 16-Core Zen 2 Powerhouse




Windows 10 Version 1909 Available

Microsoft has started making Windows 10, version 1909 generally available through Windows Update as an optional update, as you can see in Figure 1. This just started happening on November 12. I have already seen it on multiple systems with both AMD and Intel processors. This is notable, because there was a substantial delay for AMD systems when Windows 10, version 1903 became available earlier this year.


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Figure 1: Windows Update Offering Windows 10, version 1909


Unlike previous Windows 10 semi-annual feature updates, the installation of Version 1909 goes pretty quickly. Having a fast NVMe SSD or Intel Optane NVMe storage and a modern, fast processor still matters as far as installation speed goes, but it is much faster than it was in 1903 or earlier versions.

I also noticed that it does not need as much disk space, and does not generate as much extra file usage that needs to be cleaned up with the Windows Disk Cleanup utility. You will only see this faster, more streamlined update process if you are coming from Windows 10, version 1903, as explained here.

Figure 2 shows what you will see in WinVer after upgrading to 1909.


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Figure 2: WinVer Output Showing Version 1909


Here is some initial information about the improvements in 1909:


What’s new in Windows 10, version 1909

These are the two most interesting improvements from that document:

  • We have made general battery life and power efficiency improvements for PCs with certain processors.

  • A CPU may have multiple “favored” cores (logical processors of the highest available scheduling class). To provide better performance and reliability, we have implemented a rotation policy that distributes work more fairly among these favored cores.


SQL Server Diagnostic Information Queries for November 2019

This month, I have just done more minor formatting and documentation improvements, especially for SQL Server 2019.

I have a T-SQL script that you can use to check whether your instance of SQL Server has been patched to mitigate against the Spectre/Meltdown CPU vulnerability. This works for SQL Server 2008 through SQL Server 2017, for on-premises and cloud-based VM (IaaS) usage. You can get the query for this here.

I often make additional minor updates to the queries periodically during the month, so if you are in doubt, downloading the latest version is always a good idea.

Rather than having a separate blog post for each version, I have just put the links for all eleven major versions in this single post. There are two separate links for each version. The first one on the top left is the actual diagnostic query script, and the one below on the right is the matching blank results spreadsheet, with labeled tabs that correspond to each query in the set.

Here are links to the latest versions of these queries for SQL Managed Instance, Azure SQL Database, SQL Server 2019, SQL Server 2017, SQL Server 2016 SP2, and SQL Server 2016:

SQL Managed Instance Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Managed Instance Diagnostic Results

Azure SQL Database Diagnostic Information Queries

Azure SQL Database Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2019 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2019 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2017 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2017 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2016 SP2 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2016 SP2 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2016 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2016 Blank Results Spreadsheet

Here are links to the most recent versions of these scripts for SQL Server 2014 and older:

Since SQL Server 2014 and older are out of Mainstream support from Microsoft (and because fewer of my customers are using these old versions of SQL Server), I am not going to be updating the scripts for these older versions of SQL Server every single month going forward.  SQL Server 2008 R2 and older are also now out of extended support from Microsoft.

I started this policy a while ago, and so far, I have not heard any complaints.

SQL Server 2014 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2014 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2012 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2012 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2008 R2 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2008 R2 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2008 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2008 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2005 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2005 Blank Results Spreadsheet

The basic instructions for using these queries is that you should run each query in the set, one at a time (after reading the directions for that query). It is not really a good idea to simply run the entire batch in one shot, especially the first time you run these queries on a particular server, since some of these queries can take some time to run, depending on your workload and hardware. I also think it is very helpful to run each query, look at the results (and my comments on how to interpret the results) and think about the emerging picture of what is happening on your server as you go through the complete set. I have quite a few comments and links in the script on how to interpret the results after each query.

After running each query, you need to click on the top left square of the results grid in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to select all of the results, and then right-click and select “Copy with Headers” to copy all of the results, including the column headers to the Windows clipboard. Then you paste the results into the matching tab in the blank results spreadsheet.

About half of the queries are instance specific and about half are database specific, so you will want to make sure you are connected to a database that you are concerned about instead of the master system database. Running the database-specific queries while being connected to the master database is a very common mistake that I see people making when they run these queries.

Note: These queries are stored on Dropbox. I occasionally get reports that the links to the queries and blank results spreadsheets do not work, which is most likely because Dropbox is blocked wherever people are trying to connect. I am not planning on moving these to Github any time soon.

I also occasionally get reports that some of the queries simply don’t work. This usually turns out to be an issue where people have some of their user databases in 80 compatibility mode, which breaks many DMV queries, or that someone is running an incorrect version of the script for their version of SQL Server.

It is very important that you are running the correct version of the script that matches the major version of SQL Server that you are running. There is an initial query in each script that tries to confirm that you are using the correct version of the script for your version of SQL Server. If you are not using the correct version of these queries for your version of SQL Server, some of the queries are not going to work correctly.

If you want to understand how to better run and interpret these queries, you should consider listening to my six related Pluralsight courses, which are Azure SQL Database: Diagnosing Performance Issues with DMVs, SQL Server 2017: Diagnosing Performance Issues with DMVs, SQL Server 2017: Diagnosing Configuration Issues with DMVs, SQL Server 2014 DMV Diagnostic Queries – Part 1SQL Server 2014 DMV Diagnostic Queries – Part 2, and SQL Server 2014 DMV Diagnostic Queries – Part 3. All five of these courses are pretty short and to the point, at 91, 164, 106, 67, 77, and 68 minutes respectively. Listening to these six courses is really the best way to thank me for maintaining and improving these scripts…

Please let me know what you think of these queries, and whether you have any suggestions for improvements. Thanks!