Virtual Production is a new area of content creation, and as such there is not a lot of data available yet on computer hardware performance for workflows involving technology like LED volumes. The software side of things is also moving fast, and a lot of the early work in this area is being done with Unreal Engine’s fantastic real-time capabilities. Because of its popularity, a lot of our testing and recommendations are based around this application – so you will see it referenced many times in the blog below. In general, though, this advice should apply to most other virtual production software packages as well. If you have any questions or concerns about your specific workflow, please reach out to our consultants for personalized assistance.
Like most software developers, Unreal maintains a list of system requirements that can be used to help ensure the hardware in your system meets their minimum requirements. However, the focus of their recommendations is usually on game development – and while that is similar in some ways, virtual production has its own set of needs as well. Because of that, we’ve taken the time to perform testing to determine what hardware runs different aspects of Unreal Engine the best – and based on this testing, we have come up with our own list of recommended hardware.
CPU for Virtual Production
How does virtual production utilize the CPU?
The processor (or CPU) is one of the most important pieces of an Unreal Engine workstation. The CPU handles all the intense development tasks such as compiling shaders, code, and blueprints as well as light baking. While GPU light baking is slowly gaining popularity, many still rely on CPU light baking and its ability to use multiple machines together to complete the task.
What CPU is best for virtual production?
Currently, the overall fastest CPU for Unreal Engine is AMD’s Threadripper PRO 5995WX. Most development tasks in Unreal Engine, such as compiling shaders and baking lighting, are multi-threaded and scale very well on CPUs offering a lot of cores. Not only that, users running numerous other high-end software packages, or performing complex physics simulations will benefit from the 8-channel RAM available on this class of workstations.
However, many users may not see enough of a speed boost for their particular workflow. Those focused on asset creation may prefer to use a less expensive option, such as the AMD Ryzen 7950X or Intel Core i9 13900K. These CPUs offer a good number of cores, while also offering a higher clock speed that can aid in 3d modeling applications, or with motion capture data.
The more CPU cores a system has, the faster it will be able to compile shaders or bake lighting. This could mean less time waiting for scene edits while your cast and crew sit idle on set.
Does virtual production work better with Intel or AMD CPUs?
At the moment, AMD has a slight lead due to their high CPU core counts & their faster single core performance due to their 5nm Architecture.
Does CPU clock speed improve virtual production workflows?
While high clock speeds are sought after by gamers, virtual production doesn’t see as much benefit in Unreal Engine itself. However, some 3D modeling and motion capture applications do benefit from higher clock speeds, so you’ll want a balance of cores and clock speed.
GPU Requirement for Virtual Production
How does virtual production utilize video cards (GPUs)?
The GPU is responsible for how many models, textures, and effects can be displayed on the screen as well as how many frames per second can be displayed. A new feature in Unreal Engine allows for using the GPU to bake lighting.
What GPU (video card) is best for virtual production?
Currently, the fastest GPUs for virtual production are the NVIDIA RTX 6000 Ada Generation and GeForce RTX 4090. The biggest difference between them is the amount of VRAM and Sync support, where the RTX 6000 Ada has the edge – but the RTX 4090 is far more affordable and very similar in raw 3D performance. It really comes down to what requirements your specific setup has: if you are dealing with a large LED wall, then the extra VRAM and support for a Quadro Sync card will make the RTX 6000 Ada the clear winner. For a simpler setup, especially a green screen, the GeForce RTX 4090 will likely suffice and save you money.
How much VRAM (video memory) does virtual production need?
The amount of VRAM needed will depend on the complexity of the project and the final resolution. Running out of VRAM results in a significant performance decrease. Most motion capture or green screen workstations will want from 10-14 GB while large LED Volumes are better off with 24-48GB.
Will multiple GPUs improve performance in virtual production?
There are only a few specific uses for multiple GPUs. The most common use case is while shooting on an LED volume: one GPU can be set to render the inner frustum, while the other renders the outer frustum. Please note that this may require use of a NVLink bridge between the cards, limiting the selection of video cards and systems.
Does virtual production need a professional video card?
If the system needs to sync its rendering with other nodes, an LED wall, or a physical camera, then a professional NVIDIA graphics card is required. In such situations, it is very likely that a NVIDIA Sync card may be needed as well.
We build and ship Custom PCs across India with upto 3 years of Doorstep Warranty & Lifetime Technical Support. We have 3 stores in Hyderabad, Gurgaon & Bangalore. Feel free to visit them or get in touch with us through a call for consultation.