Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Chaos Group releases V-Ray 3.6 for 3ds Max

Chaos Group has released V-Ray 3.6 for 3ds Max, the latest update to its production renderer, adding support for V-Ray Hybrid, its new hybrid CPU/GPU-based rendering system.

The update also adds support for Nvidia’s NVLink technology, which enables V-Ray to pool GPU memory across separate graphics cards, plus support for automated ID matte-generation system Cryptomatte.

V-Ray Hybrid runs V-Ray RT CUDA code on both GPU and CPU
The big change in V-Ray 3.6 is V-Ray Hybrid: an interesting new CPU/GPU-based rendering system.

The technology enables the CUDA code used by V-Ray RT GPU, V-Ray’s interactive renderer, to run on the CPU as well as the GPU, with identical results.

This enables V-Ray RT GPU to co-opt all the compatible processor cores in a workstation, speeding up renders: in Chaos Group’s benchmark tests, by around 10-20% over rendering on the GPU alone.

And that’s on a machine with two Quadro GP100 GPUs – the most powerful Nvidia workstation graphics card available – but much older Intel Xeon E5-2687W v3 CPUs: still powerful, but not the current top of the range.

Faster, but still not as fully featured as CPU rendering
However, the new technology is more of an incremental improvement in GPU rendering than a complete step change.

While anything that can be rendered using V-Ray RT GPU will now render faster – and if the benchmarks are representative, significantly faster – that doesn’t mean you can render everything faster.

While Chaos Group has been steadily expanding the feature set, V-Ray RT GPU doesn’t yet support all of the features of V-Ray CPU, the CPU-only implementation of the engine. You can see a comparison table here.

Moreover, neither implementation supports all of the features of V-Ray’s final-quality production renderer, and Chaos Group’s blog post is at pains to point out that the two engines will remain separate in future.

And, obviously, since V-Ray Hybrid is based on CUDA code, it will only work with Nvidia GPUs: if you’re using an AMD card, you’ll need to stick with the OpenCL version of V-Ray RT GPU as normal.

Updated: We’ve spoken to Chaos Group, who point out that “technically speaking, our OpenCL code already had hybrid capabilities, since it can run on GPU and CPU. But our CUDA version is much more robust.”

Other CPU-rendering-related features
The update also introduces support for NVLink: Nvidia’s proprietary technology for high-speed communication between GPU and CPU, or between GPUs.

That makes it possible to share memory across compatible GPUs, helping to alleviate one of the drawbacks of GPU rendering: that it’s only possible to render scenes small enough to fit into graphics memory.

At the minute, the only GPUs that support NVLink are the Quadro GP100 and the Tesla P100 server card, but presumably that will change as Nvidia rolls out new Quadros.

Support for Cryptomatte, plus more options for VRayLightSelect
Other new features in V-Ray 3.6 for 3ds Max include an extension of the VRayLightSelect render element, which enables users to separate the contributions of individual lights to a scene into separate passes.

The new Full mode enables VRayLightSelect to output all of the information available, including GI, SSS, reflection and refraction, rather than just a light’s diffuse and specular contributions.

The update also introduces support for Cryptomatte, Psyop’s in-house technology for generating ID mattes automatically from 3D renders, which the studio made available open-source last year.

Collectively, the features should make it much easier to relight a shot during compositing, as shown in the video above.

The update also extends the resumable rendering system introduced in V-Ray 3.5 for 3ds Max, making it possible to load resumable rendering files in V-Ray’s virtual frame buffer; and adds support for 3ds Max 2018.

Pricing and availability
V-Ray 3.6 for 3ds Max is available for 64-bit 3ds Max 2013 and above. New licences start at $1,040 for one floating user licence and one floating render node licence. The update is free to existing users.

Read a full list of new features in V-Ray 3.6 for 3ds Max

Read more about V-Ray Hybrid rendering on Chaos Group’s blog