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V-Ray Next CPU Performance: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

Written on November 14, 2019 by William George
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Introduction

AMD's Ryzen 3rd generation processors feature both an increase in core count and per-core performance over previous models, both of which directly improve rendering speeds in V-Ray Next. A few months after the initial launch, AMD has now released the Ryzen 9 3950X with even more cores! In this article, we will take a look at how this chip handles V-Ray rendering, both in the pure CPU and GPU+CPU render pipelines. For an additional take on CPU based rendering, we also took a look at Cinema 4D performance in another article.

V-Ray Next Logo

Test Hardware

Since this article is focusing on the new Ryzen 9 3950X, which is the top-end of AMD's mainstream processor family, we wanted to let it face off against a few of AMD and Intel's similarly positioned CPUs along with some other 16-core chips from higher-tier product lines.

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

A complicating factor is memory speed support, though: most processors on the market today officially support up to 2666MHz memory, while these 3rd gen Ryzen chips are rated for different maximum memory speeds depending on how many RAM modules are installed. The spread goes from 2666MHz up to 3200MHz (if only using two modules) - but that limit would mean less total memory capacity, which could impact some of our benchmarks. Because of that, I decided to test the Ryzen processors at both ends: with a full set of four 16GB modules at both 2666 and 3200MHz, even though that is technically outside the supported range. We can't sell systems configured that way, because we need to stick to AMD's supported specs, but by having the performance data from both ends of the spectrum we can give our customers a good idea of the rough range they'll end up in. All other CPUs were also tested with 64GB.

AMD Ryzen Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 Aorus Ultra
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1903)
V-Ray Next Benchmark
Intel Core Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 9900K
Intel Core i7 9700K
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z390 Designare
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1903)
V-Ray Next Benchmark
AMD Threadripper Test Platform
CPU AMD TR 2950X
CPU Cooler Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2
Motherboard Gigabyte X399 AORUS Xtreme
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1903)
V-Ray Next Benchmark
Intel Core X Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 9960X
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Motherboard Gigabyte X299 Designare EX
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1903)
V-Ray Next Benchmark

Benchmark Details

We used the latest version of Chaos Group's V-Ray Next Benchmark for this comparison, and it includes tests for both CPU-only and GPU+CPU rendering. This is somewhat novel as most GPU rendering engines do not use the CPU at all - but in V-Ray Next, they have implemented CUDA emulation on the CPU to improve performance a bit. Even the fastest CPU doesn't add as much performance in this mode as a single high-end video card, but who would turn down additional performance during renders for no added cost?

With the information we have gathered, then, we put together two charts. The first is the CPU-only performance, when V-Ray Next is running in CPU mode, while the second is CPU performance when running in V-Ray Next GPU mode. The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti card in the test systems has been excluded from these results, so you can see just the contribution that the processors provide in this mode.

Results

A note about the color-coding used here: AMD processors are shown in orange with 2666MHz memory and red with 3200MHz - which is out of AMD's official supported specs at this capacity and speed combination - while all Intel processors are shown in blue.

Analysis

In CPU mode, shown on the first chart, Intel's 16-core i9 9960X took top billing - but the new Ryzen 9 3950X is only ~4% behind and costs substantially less ($1200-1700 for the 9960X versus $750 for the 3950X). AMD's older 16-core Threadripper 2950X did substantially worse, coming in around the same level as the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X. Intel's mainstream Core processors are even further back, entirely because they come with far fewer cores (only 8).

GPU mode, shown in the second chart, seems to be better optimized for AMD chips. Here the 3950X takes a substantial lead, but it is important to note that in this mode the video card(s) are far more important than the processor - and Ryzen isn't the best platform for maxing-out GPU performance. Most Ryzen motherboards will only support up to two video cards, while Intel's Core X chips can often handle three and AMD's Threadripper can often do four! Intel also has some Xeon W processors which are well suited to running four GPUs, so unless you are on a strict budget and won't be able to afford more than two video cards one of those platforms will likely be better for V-Ray Next GPU.

Lastly, in this application, it looks like memory speed didn't really matter much. The performance difference between 2666MHz and 3200MHz on AMD's Ryzen processors was less than 3% in both tests, which is pretty close to the margin of error.

Conclusion

It is no surprise that rendering benefits from high core count as well as clock speed / per-core performance - and AMD's 3rd gen Ryzen processors provide a great combination of both. The Ryzen 9 3950X offers fantastic rendering performance for its price range, and since it has great single-threaded speed as well it is a solid choice for modeling systems that also need to be speedy when rendering.

With that said, though, there are even faster CPUs available for V-Ray Next. If you have the budget, and are focused on rendering performance above all else, a top-end Intel Core X or AMD Threadripper will render frames more quickly in V-Ray Next CPU and support more video cards for V-Ray Next GPU.

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Tags: V-Ray, CPU, Rendering, Performance, AMD, AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen, Intel vs AMD, Intel, Intel 9th Gen, Core X, Threadripper, Ryzen, Ryzen 9 3950X
luke

what were the temperatures compared to Intel Core i9 9960X ?

Posted on 2019-11-14 14:35:54

Honestly, I didn't track temperatures. We normally don't worry about that stuff up here in Labs, unless we see odd performance and suspect that heat / throttling is affecting it. Is there anything you are concerned about in that regard? Both chips had similar CPU coolers (Noctua with 120mm fan).

Posted on 2019-11-14 18:00:38
Maniek

price comparison is out of date!!

Posted on 2019-11-15 01:16:30

May I ask which price you are referring to?

The $750 was rounded from what I understand to be AMD's MSRP for the new 3950X ($749), while the range I gave for Intel's Core i9 9960X was intended to reflect the MSRP ($1699) all the way down to some of the lower prices I have seen for it online in recent weeks (around $1200). Upon checking again I now see *one* place online listing it for $919.99, but I've never heard of them (Safe Harbor?) and all the other common sites like Newegg, Amazon, etc list it much closer to the MSRP still.

Posted on 2019-11-15 17:11:00

Am I right to worry that HT on Intel chips may one day be forced disabled by all major Operating Systems to remove their liability?

Linux are already recommending HT is disabled and I wonder if Microsoft and Apple will follow.
https://www.theregister.co....

At the moment i can see this being a factor when building a render farm or cloud render and want to prove to your customers that work-jobs are secure.

Posted on 2019-11-18 14:18:33

I could see that being a viable concern on cloud-focused systems (servers, etc) - but the understanding I have (which may be limited) is that because of the way they function HT related vulnerabilities aren't something to worry about for most workstation applications. As such, I don't think we're likely to reach a point where HT is *forced* off by the OS - but I could see it being a recommendation for those overly worried about security, and potentially even something that OSes try to have "off by default" (though it is usually controlled by the BIOS, not the OS). The true death-knell for HT would be if Intel stopped implementing it in future CPUs, but given that they are already struggling against AMD's latest chips I don't think they are likely to do that any time soon.

Posted on 2019-11-18 17:20:32