Imagination Technologies  is now shipping its Caustic Series2 PC boards, the R2500 and R2100, which accelerate PowerVR OpenRL applications including the Caustic Visualizer viewport plug-ins for Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max and the Neon viewport in Rhinoceros 5 from Robert McNeel and Associates.
The Caustic Series2 is the first family of high performance ray tracing accelerator PC boards using Imagination’s unique ray tracing technologies in the world’s first chipset dedicated to high performance, fully interactive ray tracing in a workstation environment.
Says Tony King-Smith, VP marketing, Imagination: “Ray-traced rendering is now no longer limited to non-real-time applications and server farms. By enabling totally interactive, fully ray-traced viewport environments Caustic Series2 is a truly disruptive innovation in the field of high-quality and photorealistic content generation and revolutionizes the workflow of creative professionals.”
Says Alex Kelley, Caustic's director of business development: “We are thrilled to bring this kind of targeted ray tracing hardware to the industry at an affordable price. The Caustic R2500 and R2100 will accelerate look development for artists and designers to a level where they can view final render results while still developing their models. Artists and design professionals will love all of the extra time they'll have to be more creative."
The Caustic R2500 and R2100 ray tracing accelerator boards and Caustic Visualizer for Maya plug-in are available for purchase from today at store.caustic.com .
Imagination’s Caustic R2500 and R2100 boards are qualified for relevant Dell and HP workstations (full details of qualified systems can be found at www.caustic.com/series2/qualification ). Qualification for other systems, including Boxx, and Lenovo is expected in Q1 2013.
Featuring Imagination’s unique Caustic RT2 custom chips, the R2500 and R2100 PCIe boards set new standards for price performance, with up to 5x acceleration (over software alone) across popular media and CAD 3D applications, as well as significantly lower power consumption. They are an ideal upgrade path for users wishing to use tools such as Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max, or Robert McNeel & Associates Rhino 5, to create stunning 3D content in a totally interactive, fully ray-traced viewport environment.
The Caustic boards set a new standard for affordable, high performance ray tracing and revolutionize workflows for creative professionals. Now it is possible to immediately see the effects of changes made without having to wait for rendering; iteration takes moments not minutes.
The Caustic R2100 and R2500 boards include 4 Gigabytes and 16 Gigabytes of memory, respectively, which is used to store scene geometry and the ray tracing acceleration structure. Unlike most GPU solutions, shading is performed by the CPU. Shader materials like texture maps are stored in memory on the workstation, freeing up the ray tracing hardware to store very large models - often a requirement for applications in CAD or film and post production.
"At Autodesk University 2012, Imagination Technologies debuted their real-time, interactive ray tracing with the Series2 ray tracing boards, which accelerate the capabilities of Caustic Visualizer plugins for Maya and 3ds Max", said Robert Hoffmann, senior product marketing manager, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. "Our customer reaction was very positive, and we are pleased that Maya and 3ds Max users will be among the first to be able to take advantage of this new technology."
“We believe Caustic’s photorealistic ray tracing acceleration technology will change the way artists design in the future, which is why we chose to integrate the viewport directly into Rhino 5 as Neon,” said Bob McNeel at Robert McNeel and Associates. “This technology combined with one of the Caustic Series2 ray tracing acceleration cards enables designers to create content within an interactive, fully ray traced viewport, complete with accurate lighting, shadows and reflections. By providing users with high-quality visual feedback from the earliest stages of modelling, potential issues can be identified and resolved much earlier in the design cycle.”
“At HP we are always pushing ourselves to bring new innovations into the world, which is why we chose to feature the Caustic Visualizer and Series2 cards at ‘Rock On’ last December,” said Ron Rogers, R&D director, HP Graphics Business Unit. “We believe this new ray tracing acceleration solution from Imagination Technologies will change the way products are designed in the future. As we all take a step forward in innovation, we are very pleased to announce we’ve certified and optimized our machines for Imagination Technologies’ Caustic Visualizer and Caustic Series2 ray tracing acceleration boards.”
“At Dell we take pride in offering our workstation customers leading edge and innovative technology to boost productivity and creativity,” said Efrain Rovira, Executive Director, Dell Precision Workstations. “The Caustic Series2 cards and Caustic Visualizer bring new levels of interaction and visualization for 3D artists and designers and we are proud to announce that our Dell Precision T3600, T5600, and T7600 tower workstations helped develop and are optimized to run these groundbreaking ray tracing and visualization solutions.”
“The performance and workflow benefits resulting from the Caustic Visualizers and hardware is a game changer for us at Greg Lynn FORM,” said Greg Lynn at Greg Lynn FORM. “Being able to see shadows (sun) while making changes to an architectural model is a very big deal! This is one of the main reasons why designers move from digital to physical models. This benefit alone will save us a tremendous amount of time and money. Ray tracing is really the only way to accurately visualize the light and shadows for interior and exterior renderings in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) world. In the past, the design sequence was something of a guessing game; you set up lights and textures where you might want them and see what happens after rendering. Using Caustic technology our digital 3D models now have the benefit of visualizing daylight, shadow and lighting in general from the very first digital sketches; Caustic’s products bring this late stage design quality to the early stages of my design process.”
"With the Caustic Visualizer and hardware cards this is the first time I have been able to model and ray trace simultaneously”, said president of Technolution, Max Sims. “I can see true refractions and reflections as I design. The quality, speed and fidelity really blow me away and frees us up to iterate at will, making product design perfectly interactive."
“Caustic Visualizer for Maya makes the limits of IPR (Interactive Photorealistic Rendering) a thing of the past,” said David Perkins, Lead Draftsman at Silent House Productions. “We are now able to fine tune materials and lighting directly in the Maya viewport, complete with translucency, reflections, and soft shadows.” This has almost completely eliminated our need to use mental ray to test material settings, Now, we only use mental ray when our entire scene is constructed from elements that are tested using Caustic. With the Caustic hardware, we were able to arrive at higher quality images faster. We're also able to tumble around texture mapped objects in near realtime, to test specularity and the material’s reaction to light from all angles. One other feature that surprised us, was the ability to preview lights with a 2K resolution image sequence mapped to its colour channel, and how well the viewport matched final output, in terms of accuracy and quality.
Imagination’s hardware accelerated Caustic Visualizer family of plugins brings the world's first fully interactive real time ray tracer to the working viewports of the industry's premier 3D design and animation packages. Thanks to Imagination’s unique high performance OpenRL-based ray tracing hardware and software technologies, the Visualizer photorealistic viewport provides far higher visual quality than 3ds Max and Maya's normal rendering viewports, including globally accurate lighting, reflections and shadows within a 3ds Max, Maya or mental ray scene. It enables artists to identify and resolve potential problems within their final renders from the earliest stages of modelling; minimizing the need for time-consuming preview renders and radically streamlining the look development process.
The Caustic Visualizer viewport renderer interactively updates and responds to all edits in 3ds Max and Maya including geometry, lighting and shading characteristics while preserving their powerful interactive workflows. Selected objects in the Maya viewport continue to have fully editable wireframes and manipulators overlaid on the real-time ray-traced shaded preview.
Neon for Rhino is a fully ray-traced viewport plug-in for Rhino 5. Developed in collaboration with Imagination Technologies, Neon helps a designer to quickly evaluate and establish the form, colour, texture, lighting, and material requirements of object components within a scene, very early on.
Neon supports all Rhino 5 rendering features - including the sun, skylight, ground plane, standard materials, environments and most procedural textures. In addition, Neon supports many Brazil shaders and materials if Brazil 2.0 for Rhino is installed.
Source: Imagination Technologies