Most VFX companies don't use GPUs for the final rendering of scenes

In an expose it was revealed that the majority of VFX companies do not actually use GPUs in their rendering farms, but only locally.

1 minute & 12 seconds read time

Special effects for movies are becoming increasingly realistic when done correctly and when in the right hands.

Most VFX companies don't use GPUs for the final rendering of scenes |

An expose by Ars Technica about the history of VFX companies and how London has been the surprising center of that industry has also revealed some other surprising information. We consumers might think that it would be natural to use GPUs when rendering those graphics we see on screen, but it actually isn't true at all. In fact, it was discovered that GPUs, and primarily NVIDIA for the purposes of driver stability, are used on local workstations for lighting previews and not much else. Render farms, while they have GPUs in them, utilize CPU power because of the RAM available to them.

Some scenes these days require as much as 128GB of RAM per scene in order to be rendered, which isn't possible at all on any consumer or professional GPU. So in most cases, the 24GB Quadro M6000 and AMD's FirePro S9170 with 32GB of VRAM just isn't enough. Pascal and the GP100's 16GB if VRAM, no matter how fast HBM2 happens to be, just isn't large enough to contain the kinds of complex scenes that are being created by these companies. So for the time being, until shared memory is implemented, CPU's will rule the day, with some 24,000 cores being used in some cases. One of Pixar's software engineers, Jeremy Cowles, said that the industry tells NVIDIA, as they question them every year, that they need more memory to actually use them on a large scale.


Jeff grew up in the Pacific Northwest where he fell in love with gaming and building his own PC’s. He's a huge fan of any genre of gaming from RTS to FPS, but especially favors space-sims. Now he's stepped into the adult world by becoming a professional student looking to break into the IT Security world. When he’s not deep in his studies, he’s deep in a new game, revisiting an old game, or testing the extreme limits of his own PC. He's now a news contributor for TweakTown, looking to bring a unique view on technology and gaming.

Newsletter Subscription

Related Tags