Thanks to cheap drone technology almost anyone can now get mountains of aerial photography data for us in many different applications. However, to turn raw terrain imagery into something useful you will need a specialist software package like Pix4Dmapper Pro.
Pix4Dmapper is an example of photogrammetry software, which is the set of mathematical techniques used to extract geometric data from 2D images or video and then apply it in useful ways. What Pix4Dmapper Pro does is to take aerial drone footage and get 3D terrain data from it, so that buildings, hills and other tall or deep structures are represented with accurate 3D meshes.
The software has been specifically created to compensate for the effects of drone camera equipment and photography, For example, high-speed drone flight causes various distortions in the footage, but using special algorithms Pix4Dmapper can compensate for this and provide clear and accurate maps.
How much processing power the software needs is largely driven by the size of the projects you will need that computer to handle. Pix4D defines a small projects as one that has fewer than 100 images at no more than 14 megapixels. A medium project has 100-500 images. Large projects have more than 500 and the largest projects have more than 2000 images.
Small and medium projects can get away with 8 and 16 GB of RAM and and 15 and 30 GB of free SSD space.If you want to do larger projects however you will need 32GB of RAM and as much as 120GB of free SSD space.
While the software is multi-threaded it will not benefit much from an excessive core count. Pix4D themselves recommend a six-core (12 thread) Xeon, but we would suggest getting an eight core model just for a bit of future proofing and overall system responsiveness while rendering.
Some steps in the photogrammetry process are accelerated by GPU, but there is no need for very high-end GPUs or multi-GPU configurations. An Nvidia chip is necessary for GPU acceleration however, since only CUDA is supported. Other than that the GPU must be compatible with OpenGL 3.2.
PIX4DMapper pro has very straight forward and specific requirements making some of our Intel workstations ideal candidates. It is important to mention that there are several possible configurations to work with the software and it ultimately depends on your budget.
Operating systems supported by Pix4Dmapper
Windows 10 64-bit Professional
Windows 8.1 64-bit (Pro)
Windows 7 64-bit (Professional and Ultimate)