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RealityCapture CPU Performance: AMD Threadripper 3990X 64 Core

Written on February 7, 2020 by William George


AMD has launched a new top-end CPU, equipped with a whopping 64 cores: the Threadripper 3990X. We have put this new chip to the test in a wide range of applications, from photography to rendering, but this article is looking specifically at RealityCapture. Keep reading to find out how the 3990X stacks up against other Threadripper models as well as some of Intel and AMD's various desktop processors.

AMD Threadripper 3990X Tested in RealityCapture

For this article, we are primarily interested in how this new AMD Threadripper 3990X compares to other current-generation processors. The focus is on photogrammetry processing in RealityCapture, using a benchmark tool we developed here at Puget Systems. More info about this utility is available in the Benchmark Details.

If you would prefer to skip over our test setup and benchmark sections, feel free to jump straight to the Conclusion.

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Test Hardware

Here are the specifications of the different platforms we used for our testing:

AMD Ryzen Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 3950X ($749)
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X ($499)
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X ($399)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Intel 9th Gen Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 9900K ($499)
Intel Core i7 9700K ($385)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z390 Designare
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen Test Platform
CPU AMD TR 3990X ($3,990)
AMD TR 3970X ($1,999)
AMD TR 3960X ($1,399)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S TR4-SP3
Motherboard Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS Pro WiFi
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Intel X-10000 Series Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 10980XE ($979)
Intel Core i9 10940X ($784)
Intel Core i9 10920X ($689)​​​​​​​
Intel Core i9 10900X ($590)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Motherboard Gigabyte X299 Designare EX
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Shared Hardware/Software
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1909)
Puget Systems RealityCapture Benchmark

A quick note about memory specifications: the latest CPUs from AMD and Intel support varying speeds of RAM depending on how many modules are installed. In past articles, we've sometimes tested at multiple speeds, but to help keep things more uniform going forward we are standardizing on the speed that each processor/platform supports when all memory slots are used (even if we aren't filling them completely for our testing). Along with using the same total RAM capacity, that should help to keep results fair and consistent.

Additionally, it is worth pointing out that the CPU cooler we used for testing the new TR 3990X is somewhat borderline for how much heat this processor can potentially put out. In the systems we build with this chip going forward, we will be utilizing a larger heatsink and fan to ensure maximum performance even under extended loads - but in the open-air testbeds we use here in our lab, we found that the cooler we used did not lead to throttling.​

Benchmark Details

For testing photogrammetry applications, we 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 RealityCapture 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 for this article.

  • Rock Model - 45 photos at 20 megapixels each
  • School Map - 51 photos at 18 megapixels each
  • School Model - 278 photos at 18 megapixels each
  • Park Map - 758 photos at 18 megapixels each

Benchmark Results

A lot is going on in the chart below, so before getting into it here is a reference key for the color scheme:

  • Light blue = Intel consumer CPUs (9th Gen Core series)
  • Dark blue = Intel HEDT CPUs (X series)
  • Light red = AMD consumer CPUs (Ryzen)
  • Dark red = AMD HEDT CPUs (Threadripper)
  • Dark red with glow - NEW AMD Threadripper 3990X

For those who want to dig into how each CPU performed in the various processing steps in RealityCapture, here is a full results table:

RealityCapture Processor Performance Table

Click image to expand for better readability


NOTE ABOUT THE DATA ABOVE: It was pointed out to me by an astute reader that there are a couple of incorrect data points in the chart above. Neither materially changes the conclusions below, but it is worth noting that on the Park Map data set the Threadripper 3990X ended up with a time ~300 seconds lower than it should have, due to the Align Images time being shorter than is truly possible, and the Core i9 10900X is ~500 seconds lower for a similar issue with the Ortho Projection step. I don't see any other glaring issues, and will be more watchful for this sort of thing in the future.

For the most part, AMD's new 64-core Threadripper 3990X performed in the middle of the pack - not a great result for such an expensive processor. It did manage to take top billing with our largest image set, but even there the 24-core 3960X was just as fast for less than half the price.

Looking at the overall results, there isn't a huge performance spread from even the slowest to fastest chips among those we tested: depending on the image set, only about 10-20% variance from the top to the bottom of the pack. That means going for the absolute fastest CPU isn't saving you a lot of time, and a better approach is probably to go for the most affordable of the top five or so. AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X consistently landed in that range, with the 3900X not far behind.

Is AMD's Threadripper 3990X Good for RealityCapture?

No, the 3990X is not a good fit for RealityCapture - especially considering its high price tag. AMD's more mainstream Ryzen 9 3950X and 3900X processors are a much better choice, offering similar or better performance in this application for a fraction of the cost.

Looking for a Photogrammetry Workstation?

Puget Systems offers a range of powerful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.

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Labs Consultation Service

Our Labs team is available to provide in-depth hardware recommendations based on your workflow.

Find Out More!
Tags: Intel 9th Gen, Intel X-series, Intel vs AMD, AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen, AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen, Threadripper, CPU, RealityCapture, photogrammetry, Threadripper 3990X, Intel X-10000