Tuesday, April 12th, 2022 Posted by Jim Thacker

Matt Puchala releases Axiom 2.2 for Houdini

Originally posted on 20 September 2021. Scroll down for news of the Axiom 2.2 update.

Former ILM FX TD Matt Puchala has released Axiom 2, a major new version of the popular GPU-accelerated sparse gaseous fluid solver for simulating effects like smoke and fire inside Houdini.

Version 2 of the solver adds new simulation source types and forces, support for colour dissipation and diffusion, a new Volume Visualize node, and a lot of workflow and performance improvements.

The release also makes the software, which was previously available free, a paid-for plugin, although it is still free for non-commercial use.

A faster alternative to Houdini’s spare Pyro solver for look development
First released in 2020, Axiom is a GPU-accelerated sparse gaseous fluid solver, intended as a faster alternative to Houdini’s Sparse Pyro solver for look dev work.

Like the native solver, Axiom is intended to provide near-real-time viewport feedback on complex fire and smoke simulations, speeding up look development.

However, unlike the CPU-only Sparse Pyro, Axiom is GPU-accelerated via OpenCL, falling back to the CPU if a simulation exceeds GPU memory: each GB of GPU memory is enough for around 8.5 million voxels.

A ground-up rewrite of the solver – and now a commercial tool
Axiom 2 is a ground-up rewrite of the solver – it isn’t backwards-compatible with previous releases – adding new features throughout the toolset.

Changes include a new Cone source shape for simulations, a new Spin force type for source shapes, support for color dissipation and diffusion, and a new Volume Visualize node.

Workflow improvements include control ramps for wind and cooling rate, axis-based control fields, and new Shelf tools and set-ups. According to Puchala, the solver is also now “5% more memory efficient”.

However, for many users, the biggest change will be that the software is now a commercial plugin, although you can still use it for free in trial mode, or in the non-commercial Houdini Apprentice.

Updated 10 January 2022: Matt Puchala has released Axiom 2.1

It’s a performance-focused update, improving overall performance by “10-25%” and introducing 64-bit memory allocation, raising the maximum size of a simulation to 2 billion voxels.

Updated 12 April 2022: Matt Puchala has released Axiom 2.2.

The update focuses on memory optimisation, making Axiom a further “5% more memory efficient”. In addition, native Metal support is now in public beta, which should improve performance on macOS.

Other changes include a new Python panel and profiling mode, to troubleshoot bottlenecks in simulations.

Pricing and system requirements
Axiom 2.2 is compatible with Houdini 18.0+ running on Windows, Linux or macOS. The software is hardware-agnostic: find a list of recommended AMD and Nvidia GPUs here.

Full node-locked licences now cost $399; floating licences cost $499.

The software can also be used free in trial mode or inside Houdini Apprentice; the Indie edition, which is compatible only with Houdini Indie, costs $99.

Read a full list of new features in Axiom 2 in the Vimeo description of the launch video

Read more about Axiom on Matt Puchala’s website