Otoy’s OctaneRender – Fastest Render Engine for GPU Rendering?
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Otoy’s OctaneRender – Fastest Render Engine for GPU Rendering?
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“…and darkness was on the face of the deep.”
Yes – a famous and somewhat ominous opening of a book. It might also evoke the black empty screen before CGI artists as they begin work. And yet you might say the screen is not empty – something comes to life in the mind’s eye looking into that screen…and grows with a story line, action, our own voice and our own experience.
Creating something digitally that’s visually close to human or real world as possible is part of the excitement of CG work. It’s where we meet the digital world … or a digital self … or a digital projection of self. There is something inherently compelling, and maybe even frightening about this.
How does OctaneRender fit into all this?
OctaneRender was created to simply, easily and very quickly create digital reality. OctaneRender eliminates the innumerable details involved in the use of earlier, still very powerful render engines in like Arnold and V-ray, and is perhaps the first render engine written to harness its great rendering prowess almost solely on the GPU. This is attractive because whereas on the CPU you have perhaps tens of cores, with GPU rendering you have thousands of cores available to you – with multiple GPUs, make that tens of thousands of cores – all of which make for GPU rendering an order of magnitude more powerful than CPU rendering.
Otoy was founded by Jules Urbach in 2008 and since that time their flagship product Octane Render has become one of the fastest render engines in the world of CGI. It’s photorealistic. It’s unbiased. And it’s designed to be light weight resource-wise and easy to use, so that animators, designers and content creators are able to render 3D photorealistic images very, very fast.
OctaneRender is also a very efficient GPU rendering engine – it scales nearly absolutely. If you add a second GPU to your system, you can expect an increase in performance of about 100%. Add a third GPU you get another almost 50% increase in performance, a 4th GPU another 33%, and so on. OctaneRender is also written for NVIDIA’s CUDA based GPUs, but Otoy are working on OpenCL integration to allow rendering on AMD Graphics Cards such as the Radeon Pro WX 7100 or soon to be released 16GB Radeon Pro WX 9100.
OctaneRender Network GPU Rendering
Network Rendering was first introduced with OctaneRender 2.0. This means Octane 3 also comes with an Octane render slave that can be run on computers with GPUs via your LAN. Octane also has the ability to scan the LAN (or subnet) for slaves and use their GPU’s.
“With OctaneRender, you can currently use up to 20 GPUs on a single project” says Tom Glimpse, well-known on Otoy’s OctaneRender Forum. “This can be any 20 GPUs – the 20 GPUs could be on different computers, say 5 different workstations with 4 GPUs each for your 20 GPU maximum. However, you can open multiple instances of OctaneRender, so if you have 40 GPUs on your LAN on different rendering workstations or rendering servers, you can fire up multiple works at the same time and use different GPUs for rendering.”
OctaneRender Render Engine Plugins
Another feature of OctaneRender is the dazzling number of render engine plugins readily available for third-party programs. These include industry-leading products like Autodesk Maya, 3ds Max, AutoCAD, Inventor and Revit, but also the enormously popular Cinema 4D as well as The Foundry’s Nuke, Houdini, Lightwave, Modo and many others – 18 plugins total. If you need fast rendering for Maya and 3ds Max, or fast rendering for Cinema 4D, and you are ready to move to GPU rendering, Octane Render is an excellent choice.
The best hardware for OctaneRender is obviously GPU-centric, but you can use NVIDIA Quadro or GeForce GPUs for rendering. While Quadro cards run cooler and are typically more reliable, their GeForce counterparts usually outperform Quadros in OctaneRender. And Octane isn’t picky – if you want to mix a GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 for your GPU rendering, even on the same workstation or server, it’s not a problem – though mixing different generations of NVIDIA GPU (GTX 980 with GTX 1080 Ti say) can introduce driver problems.
Best CPU For OctaneRender
When it comes to CPU, 6 cores are plenty and are perhaps ideal for single workstation use. The trick becomes when you have other applications in your workflow which are key to material construction modeling, etc. This is when a dual Xeon configuration could make more sense and it depends when your workflow balance or rather your core workflow application use balance. It’s also important to check the number of PCIe lanes your CPU can see when determining the best CPU, as consumer grade chips like i5 and i7 7600 and 7700 are limited to just 16 lanes. This limits not only your GPU selection and number, but also the use of PCIe drives like m.2 SSDs such as the Samsung 960 Pro.
How much RAM for my workstation? How much RAM for our server?
The general rule of thumb in media production environments of 4 gigs per core is a good baseline estimate for how much RAM you need for content creation. Yet often, especially rendering 4K, 5K, 6K or 8K, or doing dense compositing or modeling this is not enough. For OctaneRender, how much RAM can be answered two ways. Tom Glimpse points to Octane’s Out Of Core texture feature to support fast GPU rendering on older or GPUs with low VRAM. “Out of core texture in OctaneRender allows you to store textures on system memory RAM for example, so only geometry is on video memory or VRAM” says Tom. “If you really have a complex scene, and a VRAM limitation, you will have limitations on your maximum polygon count because you will not be physically able to fit everything into GPU RAM. If you have a GTX 1080 Ti, Titan X or Quadro 16GB or 24GB you can load a great deal onto VRAM, and, for GPU rendering with cards having less VRAM you can load textures into system memory if needed.” This can be helpful in choosing the right amount of RAM for your system.
Another factor to consider is your core application mix – OctaneRender may be the fastest render engine in many scenarios, but it is only your render engine. Your other applications make up all the other work you do, likely utilize hardware resources differently and must be taken into consideration. After Effects is very often used in conjunction with Octane (and Cinema 4D) and can easily use 128 GB of RAM in large scenes. This goes for content creation and compositing and a number of other scenarios. It’s a very RAM hungry application, as are others. It is also helpful that the Intel i7 Extreme and upcoming Intel i9 CPUs can see 128GB RAM, and that this amount of RAM is relatively low cost at the time of this writing – so purchasing 128GB of RAM is a practical decision for future-proofing your hardware investment, though 64GB is still a workable amount of RAM for many pro media environments.
The fastest SSD? Is it important?
Solid state drives or SSDs typically read and write data between three and five times faster than a traditional platter hard drive. This has very practical advantages which become increasingly important when rendering a multi-million polygon model, or working with large scenes or rendering 4K, 5K, 6K or 8K footage. The fastest SSD on the market today is the NVMe PCIe SSD, which are 4-7x= times faster than standard SATA SSDs. The Intel P3608 was an early leader among enterprise NVMe PCIe SSDs with up to 5 GB/s read and 2 GB/s write speed capabilities, but the m.2 SSD is the fastest SSD among cost effective PCIe SSDs. Currently the Samsung 960 Pro m.2 PCIe SSD leads the pack among fastest m.2 SSDs. Capable of read speeds up to 3.5 GB/s and write speeds of 2.1 GB/s, the 960 Pro is the fastest SSD available with pricing starting under $400. It makes m.2 an easy choice if you are not in anything like a enterprise ~100% use scenario 24/7/365. And this is to say nothing of m.3 SSDs Samsung introduced at Computex this year, which with 16TB m.3 SSD sizes will make 1PB (Petabyte) of ultra fast storage available – in a single 1U server!
System Requirements For OctaneRender – Ideal Configurations
The Mediaworkstations i-X2 and i7-X are OctaneRender Certified workstations which will each accommodate up to 4 double-wide GPUs. They are ideal for the single artist, or dedicated GPU rendering for 1-3 users. Our GPUx is our flagship Octane Render Certified GPU rendering server, and will accommodate up to 10 double-wide gpus, up to 1TB RAM and with dual Intel E5 v4 Xeon CPUs up to 44 cores for the most demanding production scenarios. For this reason the GPUx is ideal for workgroup GPU rendering purposes including final render, or dedicated GPU rendering for small to mid-sized studios of 4-10 users. For the fastest enterprise GPU rendering server rack, our GPU-X4 accommodates 4 double wide GPUs in a single 1U server, and so scales up to 160 gpus in a single 42U rack, or 20 GPUs in a 5-node rendering configuration, for example.
The Future: The rise of game engines and convergence of gaming, film, AR, and VR with OctaneRender.
“Octane is really fundamental to transforming workflows and getting cinematic quality to happen in real time for artists” says Jules Urbach, Otoy’s CEO. With it’s real-time GPU rendering capabilities, integrating OctaneRender for use with game engines like Unity is a natural next step for transforming content creation workflows in gaming, AR, and VR. Urbach illustrated this by showing OctaneRender and game engine integration at Unity’s Unite conference in Los Angeles in November, stating their aim is for any cinematic format such as Open VDB volumes to be primitives inside of Unity, and be dropped into a timeline and rendered with cinematic fidelity.
There’s more. Otoy are also working with Facebook and 6DOF cameras to create photoreal, motion-real immersive media. Again, Jules Urbach: “The technology that allows Facebook’s X24 and X6 cameras to work well is based on depth estimation. Now this is something that doesn’t require expensive LIDAR or depth sensors to work, once you’re done with your shoot the data goes up into the cloud, the cloud can process this data and turn it into a point cloud or a fossilized volume of video. And at the end of that process OTOY’s technology converts that into an ORBX scene file. The ORBX scene file can then be download and brought into Adobe After Effects, the Foundry’s Nuke and most recently Unity or any of the other 25 tools with Octane plug-ins that are able to import and export ORBX scene files. With that scene file you’re able to then create a whole new experience or an edit or an interactive layer that is then compressed and processed entered into an ORBX media file. With those pieces in place you can have an end-to-end holographic ecosystem between Facebook, OTOY and our partner’s toolchains. So once you have an ORBX scene file inside of an Octane integrated application such as After Effects…we can actually move the camera around, we can use Octane’s rendering system to totally change the way the scene looks. Inside of Nuke you can see that we have the ability to not only add new objects and services but we can change the lighting, we can add refractions, we can do all sorts of things that really give us the entire cinematic toolchain for CG, mixed with volumetric video, in one tool. And then finally Unity and Unreal Engine, both of which we are supporting this year, are game engines and so you can create game-like effects, you can put for example a light on the oculus touch and use that as an interactive flashlight in the scene. We can have things that are driven by game mechanics and physics to include interactive elements that react to what the users is doing in VR. Really this is the first time that you have a production ready toolchain that allows you to bring volumetric video into Unity and treat it as a game object. This has never really been practical or economic before.”