Table of Contents
PhotoScan is a photogrammetry program: an application that takes a set of images and combines them to create a 3D model or map. This article follows in the footsteps of a series we did earlier in 2018, looking at how different aspects of computer hardware affect PhotoScan performance. For more info, check out the introduction to that series.
PhotoScan makes use of the CPU to some degree in every processing step, but the way the CPU is used varies. Some steps favor clock speed, others core count – and some are also GPU accelerated. In our last CPU roundup, we found that for overall performance high clock speed trumped high core count. Intel has just released new mainstream processors, the Core i7 9700K and i9 9900K, which have even higher clock speeds than the previous generation along with more cores. Let's see how these new chips perform!
Methodology and Test Hardware
Because the GPU has an impact on processing times in some workflow steps, we made sure to use the same video card in each system we tested. Multiple video cards can also improve performance in PhotoScan, but we have already looked at that in another article.
We used relatively small photo sets to avoid the amount of memory that each CPU supports becoming an issue. Please note that RAM capacity is absolutely something to consider if you work with large image sets, though, and we will discuss it more in the analysis and conclusion sections. To match other recent PhotoScan articles we've published, all tests were conducted with "High" quality settings.
If you would like more details about the full hardware configurations we tested on, and the image sets we used within PhotoScan, simply click here to expand the following section.
|Image Sets (from PhotoScan website)|
|Monument (32 photos)||Building (50 photos)|
Here are results for the Building image set. The graph shows overall processing times, with Intel CPUs in blue and AMD in red. The new 9th Gen Core Series are bolded, to stand out better, and the raw data for each step is included in a chart below the main graph.
And here are results for the Monument image set, formatted in the same way and with a similar data chart at the bottom:
Are Intel Core i9 9900K and Core i7 9700K Processors Good for PhotoScan?
In previous roundups, all of the Intel processors came in fairly close to each other – but these new 9th Gen Core Processors are at least 10-15% faster than the other CPUs we tested in PhotoScan. Clock speed is probably the driving factor, though having more cores than the older i7 8700K may also help in some steps.
The one downside to these mainstream processors is memory support. Currently, they max-out at 64GB, which is more than enough for small and even medium size photo sets – as long as you don't exceed "High" quality settings – but when working with large numbers of images or maximum quality settings more would be helpful. There are rumors that 32GB memory modules will be coming in the near future, but until then the Core X processors are a solid option – trading a little bit of processing speed for to better handle large projects.
With truly massive image sets, though, even 128GB (the current max for Core X and Threadripper processors) might not be enough. In those cases, Intel's Xeon processors would probably be the best option since they support Registered ECC RAM for extremely high memory capacities. Since that is sort of a niche use case, our recommended systems don't include these options – but you are welcome to work directly with one of our consultants if you are interested in a more customized solution.
Puget Systems offers a range of powerful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.