Agisoft Metashape 1.6.5 - AMD Radeon RX 6800 (XT) PerformanceWritten on December 2, 2020 by William George
TL;DR: AMD Radeon RX 6800 & 6800 XT Performance in Metashape
Unfortunately, these new AMD Radeon cards are not able to keep up with NVIDIA's comparably priced GeForce RTX 30 Series video cards in Metashape. Better optimization of Metashape for AMD cards, especially in the Build Depth Maps step, might be able to improve their performance in the future - but for now we would recommend sticking with NVIDIA for this application.
AMD recently launched a new generation of their Radeon graphics cards, and we have finally gotten our hands on the first two models - the RX 6800 and 6800 XT - courtesy of our friend Brian Stroh at BPS Customs. With this product line, AMD's emphasis seems to primarily be on gaming performance... but since our focus here at Puget Systems is on workstation applications, we are giving them a shot in several professional software packages. This article will look at how they handle Agisoft Metashape, the only photogrammetry program we test which does not explicitly require CUDA support (and thus a NVIDIA graphics card).
If you want to see the full specifications for the new Radeon RX 6000 Series, we recommend checking out AMD's product page. But at a glance, here are what we consider to be the most important specs:
|GeForce RTX 3070||8GB||5,888||1.70 GHz||220W||$499|
|Radeon RX 6800||16GB||3,840||2.10 GHz||250W||$579|
|Radeon RX 6800 XT||16GB||4,608||2.25 GHz||300W||$649|
|GeForce RTX 3080||10GB||8,704||1.71 GHz||320W||$699|
While specs rarely line up with real-world performance, it is nice to see AMD including 16GB of VRAM on their new Radeon 6800 cards. However, based on our past testing, this really shouldn't affect Metashape performance in any meaningful way.
From a pricing standpoint, these cards are right in between the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 and 3080 - although currently, supply is so poor on all of these cards that you would be lucky to find one in-stock for anywhere near the manufacturer's suggested retail price. We typically use the MSRP as a baseline, though, in order to rule out fluctuations due to different brands, sales, and scarcity.
In the end, what this means is that we will be primarily looking to see if these cards are able to out-perform the RTX 3070 and whether or not they can beat the more expensive RTX 3080. That is also why we excluded higher (and lower) models from this comparison; if you want to see a wider range of NVIDIA cards, check our our article from the RTX 30 Series launch.
Puget Systems offers a range of powerful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.
Here are the specifications of the system we used for our Metashape testing, with components selected to minimize other bottlenecks:
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 9 5950X|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA|
|RAM||4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)|
|Video Card||AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT 16GB
AMD Radeon RX 6800 16GB
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB
|Hard Drive||Samsung 960 Pro 1TB|
|Software||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Metashape Professional 1.6.5
To test each video card, we used our in-house Metashape benchmark - both the standard and extended versions. Each was run twice per GPU, and the best results were included in the charts below. Here is some basic info about the image sets in these projects:
- Rock Model - 36 photos at 20 megapixels each
- School Map - 51 photos at 18 megapixels each
- School Model - 439 photos at 18 megapixels each
- Park Map - 792 photos at 18 megapixels each
We make these benchmarks publicly available under the Creative Commons BY-ND license, so if you use Metashape Professional (or get the 30-day trial) you can download them from our website and compare your system's performance with the results shown here.
Here are charts showing the performance of the new AMD Radeon cards (in red) compared to NVIDIA's competing GeForce models (green) and no active GPU (grey - why we included that will become apparent in the analysis):
The overall spread in our smaller Metashape image sets isn't huge, with no more than a few percent variance there between the four cards we tested, but if you are working with larger projects (hundreds of images or more) then the differences between GPUs become very pronounced. And the delta isn't so much between tiers of cards within the same product family, though that is measurable, but rather between AMD's Radeon line and NVIDIA's GeForce. In both of our larger image sets, the AMD cards were 60-70% slower than their NVIDIA counterparts - which is a massive drop in performance, unfortunately.
But where is such a big difference coming from? To answer that, we have to look at the how these cards fare in each processing step:
Pouring over the table above provides a few interesting insights:
- The AMD Radeon cards are as fast or faster than NVIDIA's GeForce when it comes to Align Photos, Build Dense Cloud, Build Mesh, and Build Texture steps. They are just a hair behind in Build Depth Maps, but not enough to be a big concern.
- In Map projects, both the Build DEM and Build Orthomosaic steps appear to be CPU only (since they perform the same across all four video cards as well when no video card is selected in Preferences). Build Dense Cloud may fit this category as well, but it does seem to vary a little between the AMD and NVIDIA cards.
- Decimate Mesh is, oddly, slower with AMD cards than with no GPU selected at all (and faster on NVIDIA cards). It is an extremely short part of the overall photogrammetry process, however, so it isn't worth worrying about.
- The big performance issue with AMD cards, then, comes from a single step: Build Depth Maps. Having one of these Radeon cards does reduce processing time by 5-10% in this step on our large image sets, compared to no GPU acceleration, but having a NVIDIA GeForce card instead drops that time by ~80%! Since this is also one of the longest steps in Metashape's workflow, the massive lead NVIDIA cards have here carries them to a huge victory in overall processing time as well.
Here is a gallery of charts showing the individual step processing times in the Park Map project, to help visualize these differences:
Are AMD's Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT Good for Agisoft Metashape?
Unfortunately, no - these new AMD Radeon cards are not able to keep up with NVIDIA's comparably priced GeForce RTX 30 Series video cards in Metashape. Better optimization of Metashape for AMD cards, especially in the Build Depth Maps step, might be able to improve their performance in the future - but for now we would recommend sticking with NVIDIA for this application.
As always, please keep in mind that these results are strictly for photogrammetry in Agisoft Metashape. If you have performance concerns for other software in your workflow, we highly recommend checking out our Hardware Articles (you can filter by "Video Card") for the latest information on how a wide range of programs perform with various GPUs, CPUs, and other hardware.
Puget Systems offers a range of poweful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.