Friday, September 17th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Isotropix unveils Angie

Originally posted on 2 December 2020. Scroll down for the latest demo and the FAQs.

Isotropix has posted a preview video of Angie, the next-gen hybrid CPU/GPU rendering engine due to be rolled out next year in Clarisse iFX and Clarisse Builder, its layout, lighting and rendering software.

The company says that on dense production scenes, Angie is “up to 10x faster” than the current version of Clarisse when rendering on the CPU.

On top of that, when using current top-of-the-range workstation processors, rendering on both CPU and GPU is over 2x faster than rendering on the CPU alone.

Shown in action with a 450-billion-triangle 3D environment
Even when running purely on the CPU, Angie is significantly faster than Clarisse’s existing engine: Isotropix claims that its CPU-only mode is “up to 10x faster” tha the current version of Clarisse.

It is also possible to co-opt both CPU and GPU for rendering, further increasing render speed.

The demo video above shows a 450-billion-triangle test scene of the city of Florence created by Industrial Light & Magic artist Mickael Riciotti running on a system with a current top-of-the-range 64-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X CPU and Nvidia Quadro RTX 8000 GPU.

On the CPU alone, a final-quality render takes 231 seconds. On GPU alone, it takes 150 seconds. With both CPU and GPU, it takes 99 seconds: 2.3x faster than CPU alone, and 1.5x faster than GPU alone.

However, using both CPU and GPU increases power consumption significantly, so artists using the new hybrid mode will need to balance speed against cost.

For the test system in the demo video, power draw was over 100W higher when rendering on CPU and GPU than when rendering on CPU or GPU alone.

As well as final-quality renders, hybrid mode can be used for interactive renders: the demo shows the Florence scene being edited and the viewport display updating in near-real time.

Supports at least some key open standards
Isotropix’s news announcement doesn’t include any information on which compute API Angie is based on, so we aren’t sure whether it runs on all manufacturers’ GPUs, or on all operating systems.

However, according to the demo video, it is “completely denoiser friendly” – which, in the case of Clarisse, would mean that it is compatible with the software’s existing Nvidia-only denoising systems.

Updated: Isotropix tells us that Angie also uses Nvidia’s CUDA and OptiX APIs and requires a Nvidia card for GPU rendering, although “this may change in future”.

The render engine is based on Open Shading Language, is “fully compatible” with MaterialX, and compliant with R2C, Isotropix’s open-source library for integrating Clarisse with third-party renderers.

Updated 17 September 2021: Isotropix has posted a new video of Angie. It’s actually a recording of a livestream from last month, but we only spotted it when it was featured in Isotropix’s newsletter.

In contrast to the original demo, it shows Angie running on consumer hardware, rendering 2.2x faster with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 in a gaming laptop than with its AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X CPU alone.

FAQs about the new render engine
There is also an FAQs section, which provides more detail on how Angie will fit into production pipelines.

In it, Isotropix CEO Sam Assadian reveals that Angie will initially be introduced in parallel with the existing Clarisse Renderer, but it ultimately intended to deprecate it.

However, Angie uses separate lights and materials to the existing renderer, which will be an obstacle to workflow during the transition period.

Lights should be relatively straightforward, with Isotropix aiming to provide a script to convert them between the two render engines, but existing Clarisse looks will not transfer to Angie.

Assadian noted that simple cases, like looks based on the Autodesk Standard Surface material, will “translate easily”, but things get “way more difficult” once a material is connected to texture nodes.

He also noted that Isotropix “really want[s]” Angie looks to work with the Clarisse renderer, but that this couldn’t be guaranteed, at least for the initial release.

Pricing and system requirements
Angie was originally scheduled for a public release in 2021, but in the latest video, Isotropix doesn’t give a date. It requires an x86-64 CPU with AVX2 extensions and a Nvidia OptiX 7.x-compliant GPU.

The render will form part of a free update to Clarisse iFX or Clarisse Builder users with active maintenance contracts, and will also be available in CNode.

The current stable release, Clarisse 5.0, is available for Windows 10, RHEL and CentOS 8+ Linux and macOS 10.12+. You can find pricing information in this story.

Read Isotropix’s official announcement of Angie