Tuesday, July 30th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

Otoy launches new free Prime usage tier for OctaneRender

Otoy has launched a new free Prime usage tier for OctaneRender, its GPU renderer, at Siggraph 2019.

Currently, two editions of the software are available free: OctaneRender 2019 Prime for Unreal Engine and OctaneRender 2019 Prime for Blender 2.8, both released at the show as experimental builds.

Extending the free Prime edition to UE4 and Blender as well as Unity
Otoy first mooted the idea of a free version of the renderer back when OctaneRender 4.0 was released as a public preview last March. At the time, it was expected to be available for use on up to two local GPUs.

In the event, the first edition of OctaneRender to get a free edition was OctaneRender for Unity, released last December, whose own Prime edition is free for use on a single GPU.

The firm’s online FAQs identified Blender as the next edition to get a free release – at the time, the next free plugins were due to roll out “around Q1 2019” – but said that Otoy might “need to rethink the two-GPU limit as a differentiation from the paid tiers” with OctaneRender 2018.1 onwards.

Otoy’s release announcements don’t say how many GPUs the new editions support, but this forum thread suggests that the Blender version is free only on a single GPU.

Updated: Otoy tells us that all of the free editions have a one-GPU limit. More details at the foot of the story.

OctaneRender 2019 for Unreal Engine: an alternative to UE4’s own real-time ray tracing
As well as introducing the new Prime user tier, both OctaneRender 2019 for Unreal Engine and OctaneRender for Blender are new releases in their own right.

OctaneRender for Unreal Engine was announced at Siggraph 2018, at which point, it was due to ship in the “first half of 2019”.

As is common with Otoy, that estimate proved over-ambitious: while the firm’s press release describes the version available as “the official release”, the accompanying forum post identifies it as the first public beta.

Although Unreal Engine has since introduced native real-time ray tracing in version 4.22 of the engine, it’s primarily through a hybrid rasterisation/path tracing system.

There is also a built-in pure path tracing engine, but it’s primarily intended as a developer reference.

Accordingly, Otoy describes OctaneRender for Unreal Engine as “making unbiased production path-tracing for final frame rendering available to users natively in Unreal Engine for the first time”.

As well as final-quality output, OctaneRender can be used for interactive viewport rendering, as shown in the video at the top of the story.

Other benefits proposed by Otoy include being able to exchange assets with other editions of OctaneRender via its ORBX file format, and in future, access to RNDR, its blockchain-based distributed GPU render network.

Still an early public beta with several key features not supported
The implementation converts Unreal Engine scenes into a format that OctaneRender can render, including native UE4 materials, static and instanced geometry, skeletal meshes and some light types.

However, there are quite a few features of Unreal Engine not compatible with the initial public beta, including terrain, particles, geometry brushes, spline meshes and decals.

In addition, neither lightmap baking or Sequencer, UE4’s cinematic editor – both obvious potential use cases for an external render engine – are currently supported.

Being based on OctaneRender 2019, the UE4 edition should support the new features that this introduces, including layered materials and vector displacement, although at the time of posting, the standalone version hasn’t shipped, and is available as two separate preview releases. You can find more details here.

OctaneRender 2019 for Blender: a new integration for the major Blender 2.80 update
OctaneRender 2019 for Blender is also new: while OctaneRender has had a Blender integration for some time, the release is the first compatible with Blender 2.80, the next major update to the software.

(At time of posting, Blender 2.80 is a release candidate, but the final version is expected any day.)

Again, it includes the new features from OctaneRender 2019, and this time, the set of unsupported features is much smaller: only the implementation of motion blur is listed still a work in progress.

However, Otoy says that it anticipates “several maintenance releases” before the final stable version, and that future builds may not be backwards-compatible with the current release.

Availability and system requirements
OctaneRender 2019 for Unreal Engine is available for Unreal Engine 4.22 running on Windows 10 only.

OctaneRender 2019 for Blender is compatible with Blender 2.80 RC3. The installer is currently Windows-only, but Otoy says that it plans to make it available for Linux and macOS, as with previous versions.

As well as the free Prime editions, Otoy offers Studio subscriptions, which support up to two local GPUs, plus Nvidia’s NVLink technology, and include all of the other OctaneRender integration plugins.

Enterprise subscriptions start at $699/year, which remove the GPU limit entirely, and also include a perpetual licence of the standalone edition of OctaneRender

Perpetual licences are still available for OctaneRender 4.0, and cost from $509 to $619 for one licence of the OctaneRender standalone plus one DCC integration plugin.

OctaneRender is a CUDA-based renderer, so to use it, you will need a suitable Nvidia GPU.

Read more about the public beta of OctaneRender 2019 for Unreal Engine on Otoy’s forum

Read more about the current build of OctaneRender 2019 for Blender 2.8 on Otoy’s forum

Download the free OctaneRender Prime for Unreal Engine and OctaneRender Prime for Blender
(Requires registering for an account on Otoy’s website)