Thursday, November 29th, 2012 Posted by Jim Thacker

Imagination announces Series2 raytracing boards
Caustic Visualizer for Maya in action. Developer Imagination Technologies has just announced two new specialist hardware boards intended to support the real-time raytracing plugin.

Imagination Technologies has announced a new hardware product line. The Caustic Series2 raytracing boards are designed to accelerate the company’s Caustic Visualizer real-time raytracing plugins via its OpenRL API.

There doesn’t seem to be any more information on Imagination’s website, but we’d take it from the press release that the boards are specifically for raytracing, rather than general-purpose GPUs that happen to support OpenRL.

If so, it’s an interesting strategy: specialist expansion cards don’t always prove popular, as PhysX‘s ill-fated original outing as a hardware technology shows.

One-time specialist rendering hardware developer ARTVPS has also abandoned the field, and now focuses on its Shaderlight software.

Price and availability
The price of the Caustic Series2 cards – $795 for the R2100 and $1,495 for the R2500 – is equivalent to that of a mid-to-high-end professional GPU, although you will get a copy of the Maya plugin thrown in for free.

The boards should ship in January 2013.

Imagination Technologies, a leading multimedia technologies company, today announced availability of its Caustic Series2 OpenRL PC boards, accelerating Caustic Visualizer™ viewport plug-ins for Autodesk® Maya® and 3ds Max® at Autodesk University (Booth #416) in Las Vegas, Nevada (November 27-29th 2012).

Both the Caustic Series2 ray tracing accelerator boards and Caustic Visualizer for Maya plugins will be available for purchase from January 2013. The production version of the 3ds Max Visualizer will be available in Q2 2013, with beta trials from February 2013.

The Caustic R2500 OpenRL PC board, including a copy of one Caustic Visualizer, will be priced at US$1495, targeting the latest high-end workstations. The Caustic R2100 board, including a copy of one Caustic Visualizer, will be priced at an aggressive US$795, intended for upgrading a wider range of mid-range and higher workstations. Both Caustic boards will ship with a copy of the Caustic Visualizer for Maya at launch. The software-only version of the Caustic Visualizer for Maya will be priced at US$299.

HP (booth #120) and AMD (booth #735) will both be showcasing Caustic Visualizer for Maya running with Caustic R2500 boards on their booths throughout the event. Imagination will be demonstrating Caustic R2500 and R2100 boards, working with the Caustic Visualizer for Maya and a pre-beta version of the Caustic Visualizer for 3ds Max in HP and Boxx systems at the show.

Imagination’s hardware accelerated Caustic Visualizer family of plugins brings the world’s first fully interactive real time ray tracer to the working viewports of the industry’s premier 3D design and animation packages. Thanks to Imagination’s unique high performance OpenRL-based ray tracing hardware and software technologies, the Visualizer photorealistic viewport provides far higher visual quality than 3ds Max and Maya’s normal rendering viewports, including globally accurate lighting, reflections and shadows within a 3ds Max, Maya or mental ray® scene. It enables artists to identify and resolve potential problems within their final renders from the earliest stages of modeling; minimizing the need for time-consuming preview renders and radically streamlining the look development process.

The Caustic Visualizer viewport renderer interactively updates and responds to all edits in 3ds Max and Maya including geometry, lighting and shading characteristics while preserving their powerful interactive workflows. Selected objects in the Maya viewport continue to have fully editable wireframes and manipulators overlaid on the real-time ray traced shaded preview.

The Caustic Visualizer for Maya 1.0 Trial Version is now available and can be downloaded from the Caustic Professional web site. This is a fully functional release that is free of charge until January 31, 2013. It will be replaced with commercial and education editions that can be purchased for US$299 and US$199 respectively. The beta version of Caustic Visualizer for 3ds Max will be available in Q1 2013, with pre-registration to begin in early December via the Caustic website.

Visit the Caustic Professional website