Monday, October 7th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

Nvidia backs Blender Development Fund

Nvidia has become the latest major technology firm to back the development of the CG industry’s leading open-source 3D application, becoming a Corporate Patron of the Blender Development Fund.

The firm’s Corporate Patronage, which means a contribution of at least €120,000/year (around $132,000/year), will fund two more developers to work on core Blender development.

Blender development funding has more than doubled this year
Funding for Blender has seen a huge upswing this year, following Epic Games’ decision to award the Blender Foundation, the nonprofit organisation that oversees Blender’s development, a $1.2 million cash grant.

Prior to the grant, the Blender Development Fund stood at €37,538/month (around $41,000/month): a figure almost doubled by Epic’s contribution.

Ubisoft made a subsequent contribution of €30,000/year – at current exchange rates, just under $2,750/month – describing the milestone Blender 2.80 release as a “game-changer for the CGI industry”.

Other corporate sponsors making smaller contributions to the Blender Development Fund include Intel, Ubuntu developer Canonical and Google. The fund also has over 3,000 individual backers.

Over a further $10,000/month in funding from Nvidia
Nvidia’s contribution to the fund – the Blender Foundation’s tweet doesn’t give an exact figure, but Patron-level sponsorship means at least €120,000/year – takes the total to over €82,000/month ($90,000/month).

According to the Blender Foundation, the extra money “will enable two more developers to work on core Blender development and to keep Nvidia’s GPU technology well supported for our users”.

Nvidia is also contributing to Blender development in a practical sense, having written the Optix backend for Cycles, Blender’s GPU renderer, in the upcoming Blender 2.81 release.

The backend enables hardware-accelerated ray tracing on Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards, with Blender’s benchmark scenes rendering 30-100% faster on a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti than using Nvidia’s older CUDA API.

Blender Foundation chairman Ton Roosendaal tweeted: “We [have worked] very well with Nvidia staff … for many years. I’m very happy to see this being consolidated in Development Fund membership.”

Read more about the Blender Development Fund online