Isotropix has released Clarisse iFX 4.0 SP2, the latest update to its layout, lighting and rendering software, introducing GPU-accelerated ray tracing in the 3D viewport.

Isotropix claims that the implementation, which is based on Nvidia’s RTX technology, makes it possible to work with VFX scenes containing hundreds of billions of polygons in real time.

A ‘game-changing’ increase in viewport performance for layout work
The headline feature in Service Pack 2 is GPU ray tracing: the result of a three-year collaboration between Isotropix and Nvidia.

It’s currently confined to the 3D viewport rather than final-quality renders, and even then, only wireframe and simple-shaded views: it doesn’t support Clarisse’s Previz or Progressive render modes.

However, it does result in a big increase in performance: Isotropix claims that “scenes render 10 to 100x faster than when using the CPU”.

The company describes the speed boost as a “game-changer for any artists doing set dressing or … layout work”, with performance “jump[ing] from interactive feedback to real time”.

CEO Sam Assadian commented that the system makes it possible to ‘film’ dense visual effects scenes in real time and share edits with artists working on the final shots.

“[That’s] a pretty big deal, as until now, [the work] was done on game engines using low-resolution assets on previs scenes and then at some point [had] to be completely redone using the production tools.”

Based on Nvidia’s RTX technology, but works with older Nvidia GPUs
The system is based on RTX, Nvidia’s hardware implementation of DirectX 12’s DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API, available in the firm’s GeForce RTXTitan RTX and Quadro RTX GPUs.

However, Isotropix says that acceleration is possible on any Maxwell GPU or newer, presumably through Nvidia’s recent driver update, which exposed limited DirectX Raytracing features on older GPUs.

The viewport can be set to pure GPU or pure CPU rendering, or a hybrid mode, in which rendering falls back to the CPU if a scene exceeds the available graphics memory on your GPU.

The fallback is also used if a scene uses features not supported on the GPU, which currently includes render-time displacement and volumes.

Also new: improved importance sampling in CPU renders
Other new features in Clarisse iFX 4.0 SP2 include “massive” improvements in importance sampling for lights and materials, on both specular and transmissive paths.

According to Isotropix, scenes now render “up to 4x faster” than in previous releases of Clarisse iFX.

Pricing and system requirements
Clarisse iFX 4.0 SP2 is available for Windows 7+, RHEL and CentOS 7 Linux and Mac OS X 10.9+. The update is free to users with active maintenance contracts.

For studios, new nodelocked licences cost $2,299 each; floating licences costs $2,999. Indie artists can buy a single nodelocked licence of Clarisse iFX for $999. Floating render node licences cost $549.

You can find more information here, including rental and educational pricing.

Read more about the new features in Clarisse iFX 4.0 SP2 on Isotropix’s blog

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