AMD Threadripper PRO 5000 Smacks Down Intel Xeon W In Unreal Engine Benchmark Gauntlet
Puget Systems is a vendor of workstation hardware that puts together and ships systems with many-core CPUs, gobs of RAM, and professional GPUs—multiple, if you want. The company does a lot of testing to see what the best options are for its customers, and thankfully, it publishes its data. The latest benchmark results from Puget pit the Ice Lake Xeon W series against AMD's Threadripper PRO workstations in Unreal Engine.
Now, you might think that Unreal Engine is a weird choice for a workstation vendor, but aside from being probably the most-popular game engine in the world for high-visual-fidelity 3D games, it's also used for tasks like virtual production, design prototyping, and even 3D CG for animated shorts and movies. Professional usage like that puts it right in Puget Systems' target market, so the vendor has actually done quite a bit of Unreal Engine performance investigation.
Like with other 3D rendering packages, working in Unreal Engine can involve a lot of waiting. Whether this is shader compilation, source compilation, or pre-baked lighting computations, you need fast hardware with lots of cores to move the process along. That's why Puget is pitting Threadripper PRO against Intel's Xeon W processors, but to tell the truth, it's not much of a fight—just like the last time we looked at Puget's Threadripper testing.
Curiously, Puget seems to call out the extremely high core counts of AMD's Threadripper PRO as being the factor that secures the win, and indeed the results do seem to scale somewhat on core counts, but we're not completely convinced it's the actual core count that's winning the day here. It's true that the previous-generation, Zen 2-based Threadripper chips are doing nearly as well as the latest Zen 3 models, but the 24-core Threadripper PRO 5965WX comes out ahead of the 32-core Xeon W-3365 in all of the benchmarks.
Both chips run 8 channels of DDR4 memory at up to 3200 MT/s, so it's not that. The Zen 3 architecture isn't leaps and bounds ahead of the Sunny Cove architecture used in these Ice Lake workstation chips, either. There is one major difference in these chips, though: cache capacity. The Xeon W-3365 is looking at a grand total of 48 MB of L3 cache for its 32 cores. Compare that to the 128 MB of L3 cache on the 24-core Threadripper PRO 5965WX and you see a pattern emerge.
With that said, the benefits of Zen 3 definitely make a difference here; in the shader compilation step, AMD's latest processors have a humongous advantage over its own previous-generation chips, where the Zen 3-based Threadripper PRO 5975WX (with 32 cores) comes in ahead of the Threadripper PRO 3995WX and its 64 Zen 2 cores.
Overall, AMD's lead over Intel in Unreal Engine production tasks is massive. Looking at Intel's fastest Xeon W chip compared against AMD's fastest Threadripper PRO, we see nearly double the performance on the AMD system. Even comparing 32-core CPU to 32-core CPU, AMD is way, way ahead in the benchmarks—generally completing the tasks in 2/3rds the time.
That's a real time savings that can improve a workflow, which makes it very difficult to recommend Intel's workstation chips for Unreal Engine developers. We didn't reproduce all of Puget's data here; if you'd like to see the rest of the data as well as their conclusions, head over to the blog post.