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Nvidia has announced at the GPU Tech Conference that it has introduced a GPU rendering application that accelerates ray tracing. It claims that professional designers will now be able to interact with computer models of such high visual fidelity that it could possibly replace the lengthy, costly, process of building physical prototypes.

The Nvidia Iray Visual Computing Appliance (VCA) combines hardware and software to greatly accelerate the work of Nvidia Iray – a photorealistic renderer integrated into leading design tools like Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA and Autodesk’s 3ds Max. Because the appliance is scalable, multiple units can be linked, speeding up the simulation of light bouncing off surfaces in the real world.

As a result, automobiles and other complex designs can be viewed, with high visual fidelity, from all angles. This enables the viewer to move around a model while it’s still in the digital domain, as if it were a 3D physical prototype.

Nvidia is working with all the software companies that license Iray technology to add support for Iray VCA. Iray VCA was shown at GPU Tech powering a range of applications, including Bunkspeed Drive, from RTT; Iray for Maya, from 0x1 Software; and Iray+ for 3ds Max, from Lightwork Design.

Prior to Iray VCA, design teams have typically relied on workstations using one or two GPUs to create 3D visual models. The most sophisticated solutions, involving clusters of machines, have limited interactive quality or require the creation of movies of product designs. And both prevent a full understanding of critical design issues, such as undesirable reflections on a windshield.

Iray VCA delivers rendering performance using eight of Nvidia’s most powerful GPUs, each with 12GB of graphics memory, which together deliver 23,040 CUDA cores. It has both 10GigE and InfiniBand connections, so rendering clusters of multiple Iray VCAs can be easily built up over time. Its exclusive Iray cluster-management software dynamically allocates Iray VCAs to meet the demands of the day’s workload.

Honda Research and Development’s styling design department is an early adopter, with a prototype cluster made up of 25 nodes to refine styling designs on future cars.

‘For our styling design requirements, we developed specialised tools that run alongside our RTT global standard platform,’ said Daisuke Ide, at Honda Research and Development. ‘Our TOPS tool, which uses Nvidia Iray on our Nvidia GPU cluster, enables us to evaluate our original design data as if it were real. This allows us to explore more designs so we can create better designs faster and more affordably.’

Iray VCA systems will be available from summer 2014.


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