Cycles X Merged Into Blender 3.0 With NVIDIA CUDA/OptiX Support, AMD HIP Pending

Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 21 September 2021 at 03:33 PM EDT. 8 Comments
Cycles X as a modernizing of Blender's Cycles rendering engine has now landed in the latest development code for Blender 3.0. Cycles X brings big performance improvements but does eliminate OpenCL support in the process.

Cycles X was one of the reasons for the delay in the Blender 3.0 release to allow time for this Cycles overhaul to land. As of yesterday, the Cycles-X branch was merged into the Blender 3.0 code-base as a major renderer update.

The merge notes, "This includes much improved GPU rendering performance, viewport interactivity, new shadow catcher, revamped sampling settings, subsurface scattering anisotropy, new GPU volume sampling, improved PMJ sampling pattern, and more."

While this does bring big GPU performance improvements, at the moment it's limited to NVIDIA GPUs with the OptiX and CUDA back-ends. The OpenCL back-end was removed in Cycles X due to OpenCL being rather stagnate and problems in the Blender back-end support, but Blender developers are working on alternatives for supporting Intel and AMD GPU acceleration too.

In fact, opened yesterday is a merge request adding AMD HIP support to Cycles X. HIP is the interface for Radeon GPUs similar to CUDA. The Cycles X HIP support is still in development and not considered ready for end-users yet.

The updated Blender 3.0 Cycles release notes outline with Cycles X the OptiX kernel compilation time is now significantly lower, baking now supports hardware ray-tracing with OptiX, and a run-through of all the other renderer improvements.

This Cycles X support can be found now in the newest Blender 3.0 daily builds.

Blender 3.0 plans tomorrow to move into its improvement/stability "Bcon2" phase and to run until 20 October when it will turn to bug-fixing-only and code branching. The plan is to officially release Blender 3.0 around 3 December.
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