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Agisoft Metashape 1.6.5 SMT Performance Analysis on AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Written on December 15, 2020 by William George
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TL;DR: Disabling SMT on AMD's Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X will usually improve performance in Agisoft Metashape

Agisoft Metashape does not perform well with very high core counts, and the 5950X and 5900X have enough cores that they do benefit from disabling SMT. These new models have high enough per-core performance that they outpace Intel's 10th Gen Core models, but also have enough additional cores that SMT (which doubles how many cores the operating system & software see) can interfere with getting the best results. It doesn't happen with every project we tested, though, so it may be best to try a few of your own image sets to see whether SMT on or off gives you the best performance.

The lower core models in this series, like the Ryzen 7 5800X (and presumably the Ryzen 5 5600X) do not need to have SMT turned off.

Introduction

AMD's Simultaneous Multithreading (often shortened to SMT) and Intel's Hyperthreading (HT) are similar features found on many mid-range and almost all high-end processors, and enabled by default. These technologies work by duplicating a portion of each CPU core's pipeline, allowing a second software thread to be ready and waiting to execute commands as soon as the core finishes processing the thread it is actively working on. That doubles the number of "cores" the operating system sees, and in some applications can lead to a substantial increase in performance. However, in certain situations it can also reduce performance - especially if a program struggles to use lots of cores effectively (shown by processing speeds stagnating or even go down as the number of cores in a CPU goes up).

In the past we have found that Agisoft Metashape can perform better on high core count processors when SMT is turned off, but the best-performing CPUs at that time were Intel's 8- and 10-core models which didn't benefit from this trick. Now that AMD's Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X, which have a higher core count, are among the fastest chips for Metashape, is it worth turning SMT off on these processors?

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Test Setup

Listed below are the specifications of the system we used for our testing:

Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Metashape Professional 1.6.5

Test Methodology

For benchmarking photogrammetry applications we now have four image sets that we own the rights to, covering both smaller and larger size model and map projects. All of these image sets are available in our public Metashape benchmarks, split up to allow quick or extended tests, which you can download and run if you want to compare your system's performance to what we measured here.

  • 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

Benchmark Results

The focus of this article is on these AMD processors' performance in Metashape with SMT enabled versus disabled, rather than comparing one processor to another, so the graphs are set up to reflect that. There are two results for each CPU, with SMT on shown in blue and then off shown in green. These charts reflect the total processing time for each image set, in seconds, so smaller numbers and shorter lines indicate better performance. Scroll through the gallery below to see an overview of the results:

For those who want to dig into how SMT impacted performance in different processing steps, here is a full table of the results:

Metashape 1.6.5 SMT On vs Off Ryzen 5000 Series Performance Table

Analysis & Conclusion

In three of the four image sets we tested, turning Simultaneous Multithreading off reduced processing times in Metashape with both AMD Ryzen 9 processors. Performance gains were around 10% for the Ryzen 9 5950X, and around 3-5% for the 5900X. That means the higher core count model saw a greater benefit from turning SMT off, which matches what we saw in our last look at SMT in Metashape.

Interestingly, while the 5900X is faster than the 5950X with SMT enabled in most of these tests that situation flipped and the 5950X was faster once SMT was disabled. In fact, the 5950X was even able to surpass the Ryzen 7 5800X with this trick! With only 8 cores, the 5800X saw no benefit from disabling SMT - so while it was the fastest with SMT on, it fell behind the others when they had SMT off.

There was one test in which the 5900X was slightly slower with SMT disabled, and where the 5950X was effectively tied. That was a model, rather than a map, so it may be an indication that the differences in processing those types of projects tend to favor a slightly higher core count on models. In that same test, the lower core count 5800X was far slower with SMT turned off.

It should be noted that this is assuming you run a single instance of Metashape. We have also looked running multiple instances of this application to better harness the power of high core count processors. If you plan to try that, it would be best to test your specific workflow to see whether SMT is beneficial or not in your exact situation.

Should SMT be turned on or off when running Metashape on Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X?

For the best results in Agisoft Metashape, disable SMT when using AMD's Ryzen 9 5950X or 5900X processors. The lower core models in this series, like the Ryzen 7 5800X and presumably the Ryzen 5 5600X, do not need to have SMT turned off.

As always, please keep in mind that these results are strictly for photogrammetry in Agisoft Metashape. If you have performance concerns for other applications in your workflow, we highly recommend checking out our Hardware Articles (you can filter by software or other categories) for the latest information on how a wide range of programs perform with various GPUs, CPUs, and other hardware.

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Tags: photogrammetry, Agisoft, Metashape, SMT, AMD Ryzen 5000 Series, 5950X, 5900X, AMD
Elmar Giacummo

As usual, great article, and what about Threadripper?

Posted on 2020-12-17 18:37:59

We've looked at this topic before, and included a Threadripper at that time:

https://www.pugetsystems.co...

The short story is that SMT off on Threadrippers does help them in Metashape, but they are still surpassed by lower core count / higher clock speed models. A better way to use a Threadripper with Metashape is to run multiple instances - though of course they can also be viable if you simply need more RAM for large projects.

Posted on 2020-12-17 18:45:29
Elmar Giacummo

thank you very much William, I missed that topic.

Posted on 2020-12-18 17:30:51

You are very welcome! I'm glad these articles are helpful :)

Posted on 2020-12-18 17:40:30