AMD’s high-performance streak continues with Zen 3. These chips are the 3rd or 4th iteration of their modern desktop processors (or 5th, depending on who’s counting), and they deliver impressive levels of performance. In this episode of Upscaled, we look at what’s changed in Zen 3, and how much does CPU power really matter for tasks like animation and video editing?
With Zen 2, AMD introduced the idea of “chiplets”: small discrete processor dies that were linked together to form the final chip. Zen 2 CPUs used an “i/o die” chip that handled data transfer with one or two “CCD” chiplets that contained up to 8 processor cores. In Zen 2, these “CCDs” or “core complex dies” were further subdivided into “core complexes” — CCXs that linked 4 processor cores together. This modular system let Zen 2 scale from as few as 4 cores in the Ryzen 3 3100 up to the 64 core 3990X without fundamentally changing the architecture.
But the design was not without compromises. Each 4-core CCX shared some cache memory, and while data transfer between cores in a CCX was fast, moving bits between CCXs added latency and could slow the system down. In Zen 3, AMD has essentially merged the CCX and CCD, grouping chips in clusters of 8 cores all sharing a massive 32MB of L3 cache memory. This, along with a host of other smaller improvements, should help to keep data flowing through the CPU without hiccups or interruptions.
Our testing suggests it worked, with the flagship 16-core 5950X delivering the fastest single AND multicore scores we’ve seen in Cinebench (outside of workstation-grade chips). Impressively, it does so without a major jump in power consumption. However, our tests also showed that in most media applications, there are diminishing returns for higher CPU power. Few applications will scale all the way to 16 cores, and in many cases, including Adobe and Davinci Resolve, a powerful GPU can make a bigger difference these days. If you’re looking to build the most powerful system you can, the $799 5950X is certainly a chip to consider, but if you’re on a budget, your money may be better spent elsewhere.
Check out the full video for more information.