I was recently told by a knowledgable friend, that Smoke has moved from CUDA (2012 + earlier) to OpenGL (2013) for preview/ playback with the hope that it would allow support for a wider range of systems. Is this true, and does anyone know what kind of hardware Smoke would benefit from most in order to handle more complex projects at higher (2K, 4K) resolutions?
2) Is Smoke dependent on multiple CPU cores (i.e., 8+) for faster rendering in the way After Effects is?
3) Now that Smoke has moved to ProRes for it’s framestore, is the benefit of a fast RAID array primarily smooth file playback for complex composites?
A lot of energy over the past few years has been put into finding good hardware configurations for apps like After Effects and Resolve. It would be helpful to understand more about how 2013 works under the hood, so we can find good configurations specifically for it.
I don’t believe that Smoke or Flame have ever been CUDA based. They have always been OpenCL (OpenGL) since the SGI days.
I believe that Nvidia cards are better supported than ATI/AMD.
As far as rendering, Smoke will utilize the GPU power of any GPU that’s available. The GPU is also used to promote interactivity in the effects nodes when dealing with Geometry, lens flare, and shadows.
Prores as intermediates rendering does lessen the requirements for having a super fast storage. I am running things on a G-Raid FW800 drive and working with Prores 422 on an 2011 i7 MBP. Seems to work very well. You do also have the option to work in uncompressed as well.. so it is very flexible.
Any and all of the current Mac systems (currently a bug with Retina macs) will work fine with Smoke. Smoke is scaleable, the more RAM, CPU, GPU you have, the better it will perform.
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Also as far as rendering speed goes, remember since ProRes is a compressed format your rendering speeds will be faster using Uncompressed DPX frames if your storage is fast enough.
When rendering ProRes Smoke is going to uncompress the frame, render the new frame, then compress the new frame. So ProRes is really for smooth playback when not using a SAN or super fast storage, and of course when the overall size of the files is an issue(they can get nice and big..)
The difference in time is something one of the Autodesk guys would have to comment on. Could be with 4444 and possibly HQ that the difference is not that great.
Autodesk applications have traditionally required Nvidia Quadro cards and I think that may be where the CUDA assumption came from. With Flame & Smoke originally on SGI, the use of OpenGL makes a lot of sense. OpenGL (SGI) was primarily designed for the realtime generation of three-dimensional scenes for visualizations, simulations, games, etc. That makes it a good candidate for things like realtime, interactive previewing of 3D images for visual effects work.
OpenCL (Apple) and CUDA (Nvidia) are much more recent, and are not so much computer graphics specific, as they are languages that allow you to apply the parallel computing power of a GPU toward common computing tasks. It just happens that video frames are a highly parallel (i.e. repetitive) type of data, so OpenCL and CUDA are possible alternatives to OpenGL, with the big advantage that they can be used to render out your results as well, not just preview them. This would explain Smoke’s dependance on the use of a “Render” button which, I believe, like After Effects, relies on your available CPU cores.
So, assuming you have a fast RAID for whatever file types you need to playback, and the more CPU cores the better, the next assumption would be the highest performing OpenGL card you can fit in a Mac will give you best performance in Smoke for complex projects, at high resolutions.
At the current moment that would be a modified GTX 570 or 580 (with PSU) from a source like MacVidCards if you have a Mac Pro, or the 6970M in the 27-Inch iMac. There are also reports of the stock Radeon 6970 PCI-E card (comparable to GTX 570) working with the drivers from the 2012 Mac Book Pro (http://netkas.org/?p=1141).