New ArionBench v2.5.0

As you probably know, we’re finishing the Arion v2.5.0 core. Because of this, we have compiled and packed a new version of ArionBench, which is available for download on our website.

The time scale in the new ArionBench has been adjusted so its results match those of previous versions, despite the core is a bit faster now.

Besides that, the bench offers a new feature. Now it is possible to specify a custom number of passes to render for. Some of our customers are evaluating machines so powerful that the bench takes too little to render, producing benchmark measurements that are not stable enough. If that is your case, you can invoke AB this way:

arionbench_64 -hardware -passes:10000

This will force the bench to render for 10000 passes (the default is about 1500). If you own a ‘normal’ machine, you can simply use one of the .bat files included in the .zip package, like before. The bench has been designed to take about one or two minutes to complete in a more or less powerful machine. But, as I explained, in some cases that may not be enough (in configurations with 8 TITANs, for example).


New ArionBench v2.5.0

NOTE I:

We have been running ArionBench in some very fat machines lately and we have found out that in some cases (when there are many GPUs) it seems that the benchmark value gets a little better if a higher number of passes is used. In some cases the difference between using the default benchmark (1500 passes) or a much higher number of passes (e.g., 10000) can be significant (+30%). The reason for this can be summarized in the following sentence: “it may take a little while for all the GPUs to be fully loaded and working at full capacity”.

For this reason, it is recommended that if you want to benchmark your machine as accurately as possible, you must set a number of passes that is long enough. This is specially important in very powerful machines with many GPUs (where the benchmark takes less than one minute to compute), and not so important in ‘normal’ machines where the benchmark takes 2-3 minutes or more to complete.

Note that (at least for now) we have decided to fixate the number of passes to a number that will never render for an oddly long amount of time, despite this fixed number may be too short in some configurations.

NOTE II:

The top entries in the ArionBench page are now a bit outdated, since the v2.5 benchmark (with a larger number of passes) will produce an even higher output. If you submitted one of those entries yourself using v2.4.x or older, please feel free to enter a new, updated, v2.5 entry.

Thanks for watching!

UPDATE: We added a page about ArionBench in the Knowledge Base:

http://support.randomcontrol.com/display/CT/ArionBench

Support for nVidia K20 cards

I have been working this morning with one of our testers (Marco Podrini) who owns a K20 card, making sure that Arion supports K20s properly, and trying some different strategies to maximize performance in this new architecture (sm_35) released by nVidia.

For those of you feeling curious as to how well a K20 performs compared to other high end GeForce cards of previous Fermi/Kepler generations, here’s an example ran with Arion v2.4.0, with the devices infotag on. The render’s exposure has been deliberately lowered so the numbers are easily readable.

As you can see, the K20 outputs 261 passes in the same time that one of the 580 cards outputs 163. That is, the K20 is about 50% faster than each of the 580s, and nearly 60% faster than each of the 680s. On a side note, the 580s are about 10% faster than the 680s.

We have run many tests in many different scenes and this one is representative of the average. In some scenes the K20 was performing better (even approaching a 2x speed gain, compared to the 580s).

Note that GPU technology adapts better (or worse) to different mathematical problems depending on their nature. Arion is a path/ray tracer, and these results should probably be representative of the speed gain that you could expect from a K20 in ray-tracing applications in general. In other scientific fields, and also in theoretical performance comparisons, the numbers may vary.

Product line changelog

We’re working hard on the Arion 2 / MAX LIVE post-release mayhem, and we have created a fine-grained changelog here:

http://www.randomcontrol.com/documentation?section=product-changelog

We will update it now and then, although the major fixes or improvements will be mentioned here as usual.

Also, MAX LIVE should give you a visual notification in the F10 dialog whenever a new version becomes available for download.

We’re preparing a hot fix for the stand-alone and the 3ds Max plug-in that we plan to release in a matter of days. It will fix some of the most critical issues reported by our customers so far.

I will take advantage of this post to remind you that it is necessary to update your nVidia drivers to those we have listed in the Customer Area. Apparently, older plugins cause some CUDA crashes that are not really Arion crashes, and which are completely wiped away by those new Beta plugins provided by nVidia.