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Discover New Blender Features and Capabilities Supported by Intel

Dave_McKinney
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Above: Ton Roosendaal, Founder and Chairman, Blender Foundation with Intel team at BCON

For both amateur and professional 3D digital creators, Blender is a favorite for developing animated films, visual effects, motion graphics, interactive applications, and other 3D-based content. It’s an advanced powerful tool with sophisticated features typically reserved for closed-source software solutions.

As part of Intel’s commitment to an open software ecosystem to foster innovation, we’ve supported the Blender open source community for many years.

Here are some of the ways Intel and the Blender team have worked together, including on the new Blender v3.4 release:

  • We regularly provide Blender developers with prerelease hardware to gather valuable user and performance feedback.
  • We coengineered operations such as optimizations for rendering in Cycles.
  • We collaborated on integrating support for Intel® Arc™ GPUs through oneAPI’s SYCL implementation—Data Parallel C++ (DPC++)—into the application.
  • For Blender v3.3, we contributed hardware, testing, ideas, and technical support during development. We also provided much of the coding, the software and hardware bug tracking, and upleveling of oneAPI suitability for deployments targeting client platforms.
  • We worked to integrate Intel® oneAPI Rendering Toolkit elements as key components of Blender, including Intel® Embree for ray tracing and Intel® Open Image Denoise for denoising, and Intel® Open Path Guiding Library (Intel® OpenPGL) for open source path guiding.

 

Asus ProArt Studiobook demo.jpg

 

 

“Prerelease [Intel®] hardware—we still get that quite often. That is really cool. We have developers in our studio, and they love to have this new stuff to play with and to really stretch the maximum out of the hardware to get the performance.”1


—Ton Roosendaal, creator of Blender and chairperson of the Blender Foundation

 

 

 

What’s new in Blender 3.4

One of the nice things about Blender is that it supports rendering across multiple types of architectures—both CPUs and GPUs. Blender v3.4 takes advantage of this flexibility by capitalizing on the architecture of Intel® Arc™ graphics technology and the GPU acceleration capabilities that come with it. Here’s what that means for users:

High-performance, GPU-accelerated ray tracing rendering

We all know that ray tracing rendering is a time-consuming process. However, performing it on the GPU rather than the CPU can result in considerable time savings. Intel Arc graphics technology supports the complex operations required for ray tracing through Blender’s Cycles rendering engine. Blender 3.3 incorporated GPU support for Intel Arc rendering and the new Blender 3.4 pushes this performance even further. Keep reading to learn more about these improvements.

Denoising and interactive cycles viewport rendering

In addition to accelerated ray tracing, Intel Arc graphics also enables near-real-time rendering of scenes in the Blender Cycles viewport. It does this with denoising, a feature that allows paths to be calculated by artificial intelligence (AI) so a clean image can be delivered in a short time. Creators can use the Blender Cycles viewport—supported by the GPU—to try different material values and see a preview of the scene’s appearance with the changes in place, despite not requiring a full rendering.

Open source path guiding

Another exciting addition to Blender 3.4 is the support for Intel® Open Path Guiding Library (Intel® Open PGL), the industry’s first open source library that allows developers to easily integrate state-of-the-art path-guiding methods into their renderers. Prior to the creation of Intel Open PGL, only a small set of proprietary renderers supported path guiding. With Intel Open PGL integrated into Blender 3.4, developers and artists can more easily:

- Advance the quality of their scenes with a substantial reduction in image noise generation
- Increase rendering performance by optimizing the exploration of complex light transport
- Use more realistic lighting when building and designing their scenes and animations

Learn more about Intel Open PGL by watching a quick demonstration or Sebastian Herholz’s in-depth overview at BCON 2022.

 

Ongoing improvements in future releases

Future Blender releases will include Embree4, the latest version of the Intel® rendering library that helps improve the performance of photorealistic rendering applications. With Embree4, acceleration hardware for ray tracing provided by Intel Arc graphics technology will be enabled, along with general rendering on GPUs. Users can also look forward to new features and functionalities in Intel oneAPI Rendering Toolkit libraries and the integration of future advances of Intel® CPUs and Intel Arc and data center GPUs.

See more Blender updates by watching this demo with Bob Duffy, senior tech evangelist at Intel.

Get a deep dive on Blender v3.3 by downloading our solution brief.

 

Attendees at BCON 2022Attendees at BCON 2022

Intel in action at BCON2022

Our annual trip to BCON is always fun, informative, and a great way to connect with users. This year’s BCON2022 was no exception.

In addition to attending many sessions on industry updates, Blender features, and live model tours, our Intel team members gave their own presentations and interacted with hundreds of experts and users at our demo station. If you missed us at the conference, here’s how you can catch up and connect with us.

Watch Intel presentations

  • oneAPI backend: Cycles on Intel® GPUs with Xavier Hallade, Intel application engineer.
    Learn how Intel GPUs are now supported through oneAPI, discover how implementation is done in Cycles, and get insights into our road map.

  • Follow the light: Introducing path guiding in Cycles with Sebastian Herholz, Intel ray tracing engineer.
    Get a high-level overview of the concepts behind path guiding, how it’s integrated into Cycles using Intel’s Open PGL library, and ways artists can use this new technique to generate even more beautiful images.

Stay tuned for recordings of demos we presented with ASUS:

  • Watch Cycles CPU rendering using Intel Open PGL on ASUS ProArt Studiobooks powered by 12th Gen Intel® Core™ processors H-series
  • See Blender v3.4 with Intel® oneAPI running on Intel Arc graphics technology

Our continued commitment to the Blender community

Just as the open source development community’s dedication and enthusiasm stay strong for Blender, so will our continued sponsorship, investment, and innovation in bolstering Blender’s capabilities. We have been a sponsor of Blender for many years, and in 2021 we took it to the next level by becoming a Patron sponsor of the Blender Foundation. Our contributions to the software include development consulting, integration of advanced features and technical capabilities, and training support.


Stay up to date on everything we do with Blender by visiting the Intel Blender Create page, and download our Blender solution brief.

 

Notices and disclaimers
1. “Blender on Intel with Ton Roosendaal,” Intel, retrieved October 10, 2022, intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/creative-pro/blender-ton-roosendaal-video.html<Link to: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/creative-pro/blender-ton-roosendaal-video.html>.

About the Author
David is an Intel alum and recently re-joined the company as the Marketing Manager for the Intel Create program. Prior to his current position, David managed Intel’s Internet of Things (IoT) digital marketing and social media outreach. He has roots grounded in the Digital Content Creation (DCC) segment where he synthesized technology trends and insights across end-users and defined product strategies that helped establish Intel leadership in Mobile Client Platforms. At home, David is happily married, is passionate about creativity media and as a struggling guitarist loves all music. In his spare time, he volunteers at Medical Teams International and has three grandkids under the age of six-years that keep him busy.