NVIDIA Visual Computing Appliance Lifts Off at SIGGRAPH

by Phil Miller

If you want to make a splash in the world of computer graphics, there’s no better place to do it than SIGGRAPH, where thousands of top artists and designers from more than 100 countries gather each year.

This year, in Vancouver, they’re all getting the first chance to get their hands on a game-changer for the industry—the newly shipping NVIDIA Visual Computing Appliance (VCA).

NVIDIA VCA is designed to do just one thing: provide designers and artists with the fastest and easiest way to create photorealistic images of their creations. It’s so fast that designers can interact with their models or scenes in real time rather than waiting minutes, or even hours, for rendered images to come back.

This means that designers can study the play of light and reflection from their designs and catch flaws like glare on the interior windshield of a digital car model or see how the lobby of a proposed office building will look at different times of day.

A scalable, network-attached GPU rendering appliance, NVIDIA VCA gets its juice from eight high-end NVIDIA GPUs. First introduced in March at the GPU Technology Conference as “Iray VCA,” NVIDIA VCA has been renamed to reflect its expanded industry support for GPU rendering across multiple applications.

In addition to native support of NVIDIA Iray, Chaos Group is supporting V-Ray RT on VCA for Autodesk 3ds Max, with Autodesk Maya, McNeel Rhino and SketchUp for later in the year. We expect the ecosystem around VCA to continue to grow. In fact, Dassault Systèmes 3DXCITE Bunkspeed support is also scheduled for later this year.

NVIDIA Visual Computing Appliance
Is it real or rendered? With NVIDIA VCA, designers can work interactively with photorealistic scenes like this one.

Early users have seen the rendering speed of NVIDIA VCA can dramatically change how they work. For instance, at Renault, designers have been using Iray for Maya to visualize car designs in real time and create animations for executive review.

London-based Moving Picture Company has been developing its own software, built on NVIDIA OptiX, to interactively visualize set design and lighting for blockbuster movies without having to wait hours for CPUs to render previews.

And filmmaker Kevin Margo is using VCA to render his new film, Construct, at 4K stereo at 60 frames per second per eye. Kevin tells us that a frame that took 9.5 hours on a multi-core CPU took just 14 minutes on a single VCA running Chaos V-Ray RT.

That’s not a typo: his rendering time went from 9.5 hours to 14 minutes, per frame.

We’re thrilled by the work our partners and customers are doing on our new platform. Learn more about NVIDIA VCA, and let us know what kind of work you’d like to apply it to.