Friday, January 20th, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Nvidia makes OptiX free for commercial use


Nvidia has made its OptiX GPU ray tracing framework, used in its own Iray renderer and Pixar’s in-house Flow material editor (shown above), free for use in commercial applications.

The change in licensing happened late last year* but hasn’t yet been widely publicised: at time of posting, the Wikipedia entry for OptiX still refers to it as being free for non-commercial use only.

A simple, fast, OS-agnostic platform for creating GPU-accelerated renderers
A “simple, recursive, and flexible pipeline for accelerating ray tracing algorithms”, OptiX is intended to help developers implement GPU-accelerated rendering within their software.

It runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, supports multiple GPUs, and is described by Nvidia as “blazingly fast”. You can read Nvidia’s summary of its key features here.

As well as Nvidia’s own Iray renderer, integrated into 3ds Max, Substance Designer and DAZ Studio, and available as plugins for 3ds Max, Maya and Cinema 4D, OptiX is used in a number of in-house tools.

Of those, the one of most interest to CG Channel readers is probably Pixar’s Flow material editor, discussed in this video from Siggraph 2015.

Only works on Nvidia hardware, and still not available for open-source apps
However, OptiX is far less widely used in commercial renderers: the only third-party example on Nvidia’s developer website is FurryBall, AAA Studio’s GPU renderer for 3ds Max, Maya and Cinema 4D.

Time will tell how the change in licensing affects this: despite its advantages, one drawback of OptiX is that it only works with Nvidia GPUs, although that does include both gaming and workstation cards.

The change of licensing also only applies to commercial tools, not open-source ones: Nvidia’s EULA forbids OptiX’s use in “any manner that would cause [it] to become subject to an open source license”.

Read more about OptiX on Nvidia’s developer website
(Includes registration link to get access to the technology)

*Author’s confession: I think. I made a note a few weeks ago, but now I can’t find the official announcement.