AMD gives advanced rendering software to developers

Radeon ProRender released to open source. Several CAD and DCC plug-ins are already available.  

By Jon Peddie

At Siggraph, AMD announced that it was making its physical-based ray-tracing rendering engine open source, and would share its source code with developers as part of its GPUOpen program. The software has been renamed Radeon ProRender (it used to be called AMD FireRender). Along with the ProRender engine, developers will also get access to AMD’s Radeon Rays C++ ray-tracing intersection library that runs on GPUs, CPUs, or APUs.

Currently, there are ProRender plugins for 3ds Max, SolidWorks, Rhino, Dassault Systèmes Catia, and more are coming, such as Maya, says AMD. For those who are interested in using Radeon ProRender, the software’s SDK comes complete with a C++ library to aid application integration. ProRender runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux.

An automobile image, ray tracing by AMD ProRender. (Source: AMD)
An automobile image, ray tracing by AMD ProRender. (Source: AMD)

This will be a welcomed tool for MCAD users such as SolidWorks wranglers who up until now were forced to buy the Professional and Premium bundles to get Visualize (essentially Nvidia’s Iray), a similar ray-tracing GPU-based rendering application.

Raja Koduri, the boss of the Radeon Technologies Group, said, “GPU compute-based rendering solutions have the best chance of realizing the dream of photorealistic rendering for immersive computing experiences. Moving this to GPUOpen enables great graphics minds worldwide to contribute to our goal of enabling ‘the art of the impossible.’”

AMD said they believe this release will motivate engineers and designers to push the limits of what can be imagined and photo realistically rendered. Given what we’ve seen in the video game, film, and commercial spheres, the boundary of what is real and what is digital has begun to blend seamlessly. Today, many car commercials that look completely lifelike were actually made completely in a digital environment. The coming years will only bring more photorealism to the immersive worlds of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as those technologies are transformed from today’s clunky standards to an experience that rivals our natural view of reality. And most important, virtual prototyping will benefit from physically accurate ray tracing.

AMD’s ProRender is built on OpenCL, making it possible to use any hardware options that support that standard. According to AMD, ProRender has the ability to leverage the CPU and GPU resources in a machine, balancing their use to deliver fast and accurate rendering results. To complete the package, Radeon ProRender also comes equipped with an unbiased ray-tracing engine and native physical-based material and camera systems.

ProRender is slated for availability on GPUOpen in early September.

What do we think?

The photorealistic GPU-based ProRender is rendering technology that took AMD years of engineering effort to create. But AMD wanted to shake up the market, so by giving away their RT engine, they are hoping to do that. However, it should be noted that Nvidia gives away their Optix RT engine, so this isn’t an original idea. ProRender joins other AMD libraries including TressFX and LiquidVR (among many others) in AMD’s open source push to wean developers away from Nvidia’s CUDA libraries and programs.