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Pix4D is an advanced photogrammetry application, suited to a wide range of uses, with a focus on handling images captured by drone cameras. Processing of those images into point clouds and 3D meshes/textures is time-consuming, heavily using a computer's CPU and GPU. We have recently updated our benchmark tools for Pix4D, so lets take a look at how Intel's Core i7 and i9 processors stack up against AMD's Threadripper.
Note: When we started the testing for this article, version 4.3.33 was the latest non-preview release – but over the course of our testing 4.4.12 was launched. We will be doing testing with that version on a couple of CPUs in the near future, and then will post a comparison to see if performance has changed substantially compared to what is shown in this article. When that is ready, we will link to it here.
Update: The Pix4D 4.4 performance testing we mentioned above is complete, and you can read all about it here.
Here is a list of the hardware we tested Pix4D on. The video card and RAM capacity were kept the same across all platforms, to avoid either of those throwing off the comparison. All results included here are from after the recent Windows 10 security patch addressing MDS vulnerabilities in some Intel processors, but we did see a small increase in Core i7 9700K and i9 9900K performance when we moved to the newer Z390 motherboard – which helped offset some of the performance those chips lost because of the update.
|CPU||Intel Core i7 9700K
Intel Core i9 9900K
Intel Core i9 9900X
Intel Core i9 9940X
Intel Core i9 9980XE
AMD Threadripper 2920X
AMD Threadripper 2950X
AMD Threadripper 2970WX
AMD Threadripper 2990WX
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S
Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z390 Designare
Gigabyte X299 Designare EX
Gigabyte X399 AORUS Xtreme
|RAM||4x DDR4-2666 32GB (128GB total)
8x DDR4-2666 16GB (128GB total)
|Video Card||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB|
|Hard Drive||Samsung 960 Pro 1TB|
|Software||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1809)
We have improved our benchmarking for Pix4D compared to previous articles. Now we have four image sets that we own the rights to, covering both smaller and larger size Model and Map projects. The smaller image sets are included in our public Pix4D benchmark, which you can download and run if you want to compare your system's performance to what we measured in our testing.
- Rock Model – 82 photos at 20 megapixels each
- School Map – 51 photos at 18 megapixels each
- School Model – 278 photos at 18 megapixels each
- Park Map – 810 photos at 18 megapixels each
Each image set was processed 2-3 times on each CPU, and the fastest overall result was used for the comparisons below.
Here are charts for each of the four image sets, showing the total time (in seconds) they took to process on each CPU. The processors are listed in the same order on all charts, regardless of performance, to make it easy to see how they stack up. Intel's chips are shown in blue, with AMD's in red, and the fastest result on each project is highlighted (bold) to ensure it stands out from the crowd.
For those who want to dig further into the differences in how each CPU performs, here is a table showing the times for each step within Pix4D on each of the image sets:
Performance is all over the place, with no clear winner across all of the projects we tested. However, there are a couple of principles that appear to be at work:
- Step 1 (Initial processing – mostly aligning images and making / matching keypoints) depends primarily on CPU clock speed
- Step 2 (Point could and mesh – building the dense point cloud and then using it to create 3D geometry) is partially threaded
- Step 3 (DSM, orthomosaic, and index – extra steps for map projects) is also partially threaded, but sensitive to clock speed as well
With small models, then, the Core i9 9900K wins out – presumably because the impact of additional cores is not substantial enough with such short processing time. Larger models swing in favor of core count, handing AMD's Threadripper 2990WX its only win in this article.
Maps, on the other hand, need a good balance between core count and clock speed. As such, Intel's Core i9 9980XE won out on both of those projects. If you work primarily with maps, that would appear to be the best choice out of the processors we tested. It was also close behind the other winners, taking second place to them in both the smaller and larger model projects.
Based on the data above, our recommended CPUs for Pix4D are as follows:
- Intel Core i9 9980XE – The fastest processor we tested for maps, and second-fastest for models of all sizes
- AMD Threadripper 2990WX – The fastest processor for large models, but substantially slower for both maps and smaller models
- Intel Core i9 9900K – The fastest processor for small models, and the most affordable of these three options
We will be updating our recommended systems for Pix4D based on this data shortly, and will also be releasing articles comparing video card performance and checking to see if version 4.4 is any faster (or slower) than 4.3 in the near future – so stay tuned!
Looking for a
Puget Systems offers a range workstations tailored for Pix4D, Metashape, and RealityCapture. Even in the most demanding situations, our workstations and designed to minimize downtime and allow you to work as efficiently as possible.