NewTek, Inc., manufacturer of 3D animation and video products, has released a maintenance update for the immensely popular LightWave 3D version . LightWave  was announced and released on August 13, 2001 during SIGGRAPH, and has been embraced by the 3D-user community since that announcement. Only a month later, the LightWave development team has completed massive speed increases and optimizations for both the Intel SSE2 instruction set and the Apple AltiVec instruction set (also known as the Velocity Engine), allowing for an unprecedented performance improvement. NewTek returned from SIGGRAPH 2001 to work closely with both beta testers and end users to find out what areas of the software could benefit from additional work or enhancements, and in a few short weeks, the update has been finished and made available to all LightWave  users free of charge. NewTek worked closely with partners such as Apple, Intel, Curious Labs and other third party developers to enhance the way LightWave 3D works with their products. LightWave 3D plug-ins are also reportedly working more smoothly, and the enhancements made for SSE2 from Intel for the Pentium 4, and the AltiVec from Apple for the PowerMac G4 make LightWave 3D incredibly fast on those platforms. "LightWave [7b] has turned into a very significant update, not only taking care of minor bugs in the  release, but adding the significant speed increases; both as a result of the SSE2 and AltiVec optimizations and also due to some work on the core LightWave code," commented Brad Peebler, executive vice president of 3D graphics for NewTek. "We have been in constant contact with our users and our partners, and this update to LightWave  is a result of their input. We were very proud of the LightWave  release, and the 'b' patch makes it that much more powerful." From now until September 30, 2001, all registered LightWave owners may upgrade from any version to the new LightWave  for US$495. After September 30, 2001, registered owners of LightWave  may upgrade to version for US$495, and registered owners of LightWave 5.6 or earlier may upgrade to version  for US$595.