AMD Announces the 16-Core Ryzen 9 3950X Processor: Maximum Zen

AMD Announces the 16-Core Ryzen 9 3950X Processor: Maximum Zen

New CPU Boasts 16 Cores, 32 Threads, Clocks up to 4.7 GHz

AMD wasn’t content to leave their 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X as the flagship for the Zen 2 desktop lineup, and, after much speculation and questions about the potential for a full 16-core version using two 8-core chiplets, we have the answer. Yes, there will be a 16-core, 32-thread CPU, and it is the Ryzen 9 3950X.

AMD Announces the 16-Core Ryzen 9 3950X Processor: Maximum Zen - Processors  1

With this part AMD not only has a core/thread count previously limited to Threadripper CPUs at 16/32, but the boost clock speeds are higher than anything else in the Zen 2 stack, with frequencies of up to 4.7 GHz, 100 MHz higher than the Ryzen 9 3900X but with a lower base clock at 3.5 GHz.

The Ryzen 9 3950X also has a total of 72MB of what AMD is now calling “GameCache” (which breaks down to 8MB of L2 and the same 64MB L3 as the Ryzen 9 3900X).

AMD Ryzen 3000 Series Desktop Processors
Model Cores / Threads Base / Boost Unlocked GameCache Memory TDP Price Launch Date
Ryzen 9 3950X 16 / 32 3.5 Ghz / 4.7 GHz Yes 72MB DDR4 3200 105W $749 September
Ryzen 9 3900X 12 / 24 3.8 Ghz / 4.6 GHz Yes 70MB DDR4 3200 105W $499 7/7/2019
Ryzen 7 3800X 8 / 16 3.9 GHz / 4.5 GHz Yes 36MB DDR4 3200 105W $399 7/7/2019
Ryzen 7 3700X 8 / 16 3.6 GHz / 4.4 GHz Yes 36MB DDR4 3200 65W $329 7/7/2019
Ryzen 5 3600X 6 / 12 3.8 GHz / 4.4 GHz Yes 36MB DDR4 3200 95W $249 7/7/2019
Ryzen 5 3600 6 / 12 3.6 GHz / 4.2 GHz Yes 36MB DDR4 3200 65W $199 7/7/2019

Power is another area where this new processor surprises, as even with the higher core count and higher clocks compared to the 3900X, the new Ryzen 9 3950X is still rated at 105W.

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X will be available in September with a list price of $749.

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Sebastian Peak

Editor-in-Chief at PC Perspective. Writer of computer stuff, vintage PC nerd, and full-time dad. Still in search of the perfect smartphone. In his nonexistent spare time Sebastian's hobbies include hi-fi audio, guitars, and road bikes. Currently investigating time travel.

18 Comments

  1. ajoy39

    Are we expecting any budget Ryzen 3 parts down the road for Zen 2? 16 cores is an awesome talking point but I only use my PC for games and most of them rarely use more than 4 cores. I wanna hope on the Zen2 train but I was hoping for a $100-150 quad-core with the same IPC gains.

    • Sebastian Peak

      There weren’t any sub-$199 parts using Zen 2 announced. The new Ryzen 3 3200G and Ryzen 5 3400G are Zen+.

    • James

      The chiplet solution is probably a bit expensive for < $200 parts. After they have been out for a while, they will drop closer to $150 for the 6 core, but that will probably actually be close to Ryzen 4000 launch. Amd doesn’t really show any signs of slowing down. The < $200 parts are currently the APU parts that are still based on 12 nm. The next generation will probably get a new apu on 7 nm. Hopefully that will actually be an 8 core APU. That probably isn’t until Ryzen 4000 series, although it may be the first of the 4000 series to launch. Intel may still have a bit of an edge in mobile until AMD can get their APU on 7 nm.

  2. BigTed

    Looking forward to the review in a couple of months. I need to replace my ageing 4790k, and this may well fit the bill. My last AMD system was a Athlon XP 1600 nearly 20 years ago!

    • Sebastian Peak

      I had an Athlon XP 1600+ system! Around 2002 I think. Socket A was my first, well, socket…after my initial builds using Slot A. Did Thunderbird first, then the 1600+. Was pretty much on AMD systems until about 2005-2006.

      • djotter

        I started on an Athlon 2500, now on a 4670K, will go to 3700X this year.

      • BigTed

        If I remember correctly, it was on an Abit motherboard. Remember them? I could be wrong though – I too suffer with Walrath brain syndrome.

  3. Hakuren

    Has the AMD shot itself in the foot or both? Unless they want to charge significantly more for incoming 16 core Threadripper it makes no sense. For sheer connectivity with same number of cores TR wil run away with it. Current gen models were what 850$ when released.

    AM4 still offers only 20 lanes from CPU.

    If you can spend 750 CPU so you can 850 or 900 or 950. Prices of boards are comparable. Especially in US where all electronics is much cheaper. There is no excuse to not pick TR4. Even with current generation for example AsRock Phantom Gaming 6 is much cheaper than Asus Crosshair Wi-Fi while Gigabytes Aours Pro X399 cost exactly the same as AsRock’s X470 Taichi Ultimate where I live (EU).

    • James

      The initial 1800x launched at $500. There was an 8 core ThreadRipper launched later at $550.

    • James

      Hit the post button early by accident.

      The initial 1800x launched at $500. There was an 8 core ThreadRipper launched later at $550. There isn’t really any such thing as a low end ThreadRipper board, they are all quite expensive so the platform cost quite a bit more even if the cpu cost is close. The 570 chipset boards may be expensive for a bit, until lower end boards come out, but you can run a Ryzen 3000 in a previous generation board.

      Anyway, the 16 core ThreadRipper will be the lowest end part. They may take ThreadRipper all of the way up to 64-core, but those will not be cheap. I have been wondering if they have a more cost effective solution for 16 to 32 core ThreadRipper. It would be a waste to use an Epyc IO die for a 16 core part. It would probably need to be priced a lot more than 16 core 3950x due to the giant Epyc IO die. This leads me to wonder if they have a separate IO die for ThreadRipper. ThreadRipper does get used in workstations, so having a separate IO die from the server Epyc part specifically for HEDT and workstations does make some sense. I think they should make a stronger push in the workstation market with a Ryzen Pro branded ThreadRipper or something. I definitely could use the core count at work. I am stuck with an old 4 core Xeon that takes forever to compile anything.

      The idea of using a cheaper solution for 16, 24, and 32 core Epyc lead me to wondering if the best solution isn’t a separate IO die for ThreadRipper. It is a lower volume part compared to mainstream Ryzen and Epyc server parts. Wild speculation, but the best solution I could think of is to just put some extra links on the desktop IO die. That would allow 2 desktop IO die to be combined together to make the 16 to 32 core parts (2 IO die + 4 chiplets). Zen 1 actually had 4 IFOP (on package links) per die, only 3 used at a time though. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for the IO die to have some extra IFOP links; it only needs 2 IFOP for regular Ryzen 3000 parts. There isn’t much much of a reason to go to 4 IO die since they could just use the salvage Epyc IO die for more than 32 cores. Those would be much higher priced and lower volume parts, so using salvaged die makes a lot of sense there. Yields on 14 nm for the IO die are probably quite high even at over 400 square mm though.

  4. RadioActiveLobster

    This year is the year I replace my x99/5930k system with a new one and it’s looking ever more like it’s going to be a AMD system this time around.

    Well, the CPU side at least.

    Probably not the 3950x unless that extra $150 turns out to really be worth it over the 3900x.

    Will have to wait for the reviews.

    • James

      Isn’t it $750 for the 16 core and $500 for the 12 core? That is $250 more. You pay a big premium for the top end devices. That is an extra 4 cpu cores though. It wasn’t that long ago that you would have paid a lot more than $250 for a high end 4 core cpu. Going up to the 12 core from the 8 core gets you double the on package L3 cache, so I am considering just getting the 12 core.

  5. Eneq

    Launching this as a gaming chip doesn’t make sense, gamers don’t need so many cores and overclocking such a beast is going to be tricky. IMO they should have launched that during computex and then had a 6/12 gaming cpu thats overclocking friendly (maybe 2 chiplets a 3 core each for chiplet heat management).

    On the other hand if one had a quick way to do per core testing and then just enable the best X cores one might be able to leverage the randomness factor by buying the 16c part (not cheap though).

    • mouf

      For streamers and those who edit there gaming footage?

    • James

      Hardware always has to lead software. Developers aren’t going to spend the money to do optimizations that will only benefit a tiny portion of the market. We didn’t really get much of any multi-threading in games until the installed base was mostly 4 core cpus. This move up to mainstream 16 cores will allow 6 to 8 core to start to become the default target. There is still a lot of 4 core chips out there though, since intel held back the mainstream for so long. 8 core could have gone mainstream, but high end, at 20 nm, but we got 4 cores with integrated gpus instead.

  6. dreamer77dd

    So let me get this right?
    From 12cores to 16core the Gaming Cache is 2MB,
    How significant can that be to a CPU?

    I do see the 16 core like a Intel Extreme.
    The top chips become tomorrow’s standards.
    Server chips eventually trickle down to the consumer when it becomes viable.

    If the hardware becomes mainstream than I do not see the reason why game developers would not take advantage of it.

    Game engines will be developed for the hardware.
    Plus AMD has the console market and probably made some background deals.

    • PixyMisa

      The 3900X has the full L3 cache enabled, so yes, you only gain 2MB of L2 going to the 3950X.

    • James

      it is kind of stupid, but they are reporting the total of the L2 and L3 caches for the entire package. The 12 and 16 core will both have 64 MB of L3, which is huge. Intel processor currently top out at 38.5 MB L3 and that is mostly Xeon chips costing thousands of dollars. The other part of the cache is just the sum of the L2 caches which is 512 KB per core (0.5 MB). This means that the 12 core has 6 MB total L2 spread across 12 cores (6 MB L2 total + 64 MB L3 total = 70 MB). The 16 core will have 8 MB total L2 for an on package total of 72 MB (8 MB L2 + 64 MB L3). If you get the single chiplet version with 6 or 8 cores, you get 32 MB of L3, which is still larger than most high end Intel Xeon chips. Cache density scales very well with process shrinks.

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