PopSift is a GPU implementation that requires an NVIDIA GPU card with a CUDA compute capability >= 3.0 (including, e.g. the GT 650M). The code is originally developed with the compute capability 5.2 card GTX 980 Ti in mind.

You can check your NVIDIA GPU card CC support here or on the NVIDIA dev page. If you do not have a NVIDIA card you will still able to compile and use the CPU version.

Here are the minimum hardware requirements for PopSift:

Minimum requirements

Operating systems

Windows x64, Linux, macOS


Recent Intel or AMD cpus

RAM Memory

8 GB

Hard Drive

No particular requirements


NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPU (compute capability >= 3.5)


The core library depends only on Cuda >= 7.0

The library includes a few sample applications that show how to use the library. They require

  • Boost >= 1.55 (required components atomic, chrono, date-time, system, thread)

  • [optionally] DevIL (libdevil-dev) can be used to load a broader range of image formats, otherwise only pgm is supported.


vcpkg is a cross-platform (Windows, Linux and MacOS), open-source package manager created by Microsoft.

Starting from v0.9, PopSift package can be installed on each platform via vcpkg. To install the library:

vcpkg install popsift --triplet <arch>

where <arch> is the architecture to build for (e.g. x64-windows, x64-linux-dynamic etc.)

If you want to install the demo applications that come with the library you can add the option apps:

vcpkg install popsift[apps] --triplet <arch>

Building the library

Building tools

Required tools:

  • CMake >= 3.14 to build the code

  • Git

  • C/C++ compiler supporting the C++11 standard (gcc >= 4.6 or visual studio or clang)

  • CUDA >= 7.0



vcpkg can be used to install all the dependencies on all the supported platforms. This is particularly useful on Windows. To install the dependencies:

vcpkg install cuda devil boost-system boost-program-options boost-thread boost-filesystem

You can add the flag --triplet to specify the architecture and the version you want to build. For example:

  • --triplet x64-windows will build the dynamic version for Windows 64 bit

  • --triplet x64-windows-static will build the static version for Windows 64 bit

  • --triplet x64-linux-dynamic will build the dynamic version for Linux 64 bit

and so on. More information can be found here


On Linux you can install from the package manager:

For Ubuntu/Debian package system:

sudo apt-get install g++ git-all libboost-all-dev libdevil-dev

For CentOS package system:

sudo yum install gcc-c++ git boost-devel devil


On MacOs using Homebrew install the following packages:

brew install git boost devil

Getting the sources

git clone

CMake configuration

From PopSift root folder you can run cmake:

mkdir build && cd build
cmake ..
make -j `nproc`

On Windows add -G "Visual Studio 16 2019" -A x64 to generate the Visual Studio solution according to your VS version (see CMake documentation).

If you are using the dependencies built with VCPKG you need to pass -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=path/to/vcpkg/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake at cmake step to let it know where to find the dependencies.

CMake options

CMake configuration can be controlled by changing the values of the following variables (here with their default value)

  • BUILD_SHARED_LIBS:BOOL=ON to enable/disable the building shared libraries

  • PopSift_BUILD_EXAMPLES:BOOL=ON to enable/disable the building of applications

  • PopSift_BUILD_DOC:BOOL=OFF to enable/disable building this documentation and the Doxygen one.

For example, if you do not want to build the applications, you have to pass -DPopSift_BUILD_EXAMPLES:BOOL=OFF and so on.

PopSift as third party

When you install PopSift a file PopSiftConfig.cmake is installed in <install_prefix>/lib/cmake/PopSift/ that allows you to import the library in your CMake project. In your CMakeLists.txt file you can add the dependency in this way:

 1# Find the package from the PopSiftConfig.cmake
 2# in <prefix>/lib/cmake/PopSift/. Under the namespace PopSift::
 3# it exposes the target PopSift that allows you to compile
 4# and link with the library
 5find_package(PopSift CONFIG REQUIRED)
 7# suppose you want to try it out in a executable
 8add_executable(popsiftTest yourfile.cpp)
 9# add link to the library
10target_link_libraries(popsiftTest PUBLIC PopSift::PopSift)

Then, in order to build just pass the location of PopSiftConfig.cmake from the cmake command line:

cmake .. -DPopSift_DIR=<install_prefix>/lib/cmake/PopSift/

Docker image

A docker image can be built using the Ubuntu based Dockerfile, which is based on nvidia/cuda image ( )

Building the dependency image

We provide a Dockerfile_deps containing a cuda image with all the necessary PopSift dependencies installed.

A parameter CUDA_TAG can be passed when building the image to select the cuda version. Similarly, OS_TAG can be passed to select the Ubuntu version. By default, CUDA_TAG=10.2 and OS_TAG=18.04

For example to create the dependency image based on ubuntu 18.04 with cuda 8.0 for development, use

docker build --build-arg CUDA_TAG=8.0 --tag alicevision/popsift-deps:cuda8.0-ubuntu18.04 -f Dockerfile_deps .

The complete list of available tags can be found on the nvidia [dockerhub page](

Building the PopSift image

Once you built the dependency image, you can build the popsift image in the same manner using Dockerfile:

docker build --tag alicevision/popsift:cuda8.0-ubuntu18.04 .

Running the PopSift image

In order to run the image nvidia docker is needed: see the installation instruction. Once installed, the docker can be run, e.g., in interactive mode with

docker run -it --runtime=nvidia alicevision/popsift:cuda8.0-ubuntu18.04

Official images on DockeHub

Check the docker hub PopSift repository for the available images.