GraphicsMagick vs ImageMagick Benchmarks


This page used to document benchmark results which compared GraphicsMagick 1.3.8 performance to ImageMagick 6.5.8-10 performance. We found that GraphicsMagick was usually considerably faster at executing image processing operations from the command line than ImageMagick 6.5.8-10 was. One ImageMagick algorithm ran as much as 770 times slower. GraphicsMagick clearly ran much more efficiently under Microsoft Windows.

We now find that a simple head to head performance comparison between GraphicsMagick and recent ImageMagick is no longer possible because ImageMagick has changed the meanings of the existing arguments. In particular, we discovered that ImageMagick filter arguments producing convolution matrices are now producing lower-order convolution matrices representing perhaps an order of magnitude less work given the same arguments. The resulting images are visually substantially less filtered. Using the same command-line filter arguments causes GraphicsMagick to appear slower when it is actually doing far more work than ImageMagick.

Due to it not being feasable to do a head to head performance measurement between GraphicsMagick and ImageMagick, we have decided to not post results at the moment. However, the strategy and a simple benchmark driver script are still provided for those who want to do their own performance comparisons between GraphicsMagick and ImageMagick.


The benchmark focuses on the ability to process many medium sized HD-resolution (1920x1080 pixels) images. In order to prevent disk I/O from being a factor, we use a small input image and tile it to create a larger input image via the "tile:" coder. The processed image is sent to the "null:" coder so that file writes to a slow disk are also not a factor. Static executables are used and executed via full paths in order to minimize variability from the execution environment. In order to obtain accurate and useful timing, we use the bash shell to execute the command 40 times and see how long it takes. This is a very simple benchmark approach which is quite representative of the performance that the typical user observes.

This new benchmark reveals the following performance criteria:

  • Basic execution overhead of the software.
  • Image processing algorithmic efficiency.
  • Efficacy of OpenMP enhancements.

The Benchmark

The benchmark is quite simple. It reads a list of commands to execute from a file named "commands.txt" and times how long it takes to execute each command 40 times using GraphicsMagick and ImageMagick.

Here is the simple benchmark script:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
# Measure the performance between two 'convert' commands by
# executing a subcommand through many iterations and seeing
# the total time that it takes.
# Written by Bob Friesenhahn, October 2008

# GraphicsMagick
convert1='/usr/local/bin/gm convert'
#convert1='/c/Program\ Files/GraphicsMagick-1.3.8-Q16/gm.exe convert'

# ImageMagick
#convert2='/c/Program\ Files/ImageMagick-6.5.9-Q16/convert.exe'

# Input file specification
input_image='-size 1920x1080 tile:model.pnm'

# Ouput file specification

# Should not need to change any of the rest
typeset -i iterations=40
echo "Convert-1:   ${convert1}"
echo "Version:     `eval "${convert1}" -version | head -1`"
echo "Convert-2:   ${convert2}"
echo "Version:     `eval "${convert2}" -version | head -1`"
echo "Date:        `date`"
echo "Host:        `uname -n`"
echo "OS:          `uname -s`"
echo "Release:     `uname -r`"
echo "Arch:        `uname -p`"
echo "Input File:  ${input_image}"
echo "Output File: ${output_image}"
echo "Threads:     ${OMP_NUM_THREADS:-1}"
echo "Iterations:  ${iterations}"
echo "========================================================================================"
typeset -i count=0 i=0
cat commands.txt | while read subcommand
  echo ${subcommand}

  command1="${convert1} ${input_image} ${subcommand} ${output_image}"
  time while ((i < count))
    eval "${command1}"
    let i=i+1
  sleep 1

  command2="${convert2} ${input_image} ${subcommand} ${output_image}"
  time while ((i < count))
    eval "${command2}"
    let i=i+1

  sleep 1
done 2>&1

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