NVIDIA Iray is a progressive pathracing engine, and uses your computer's graphics card in conjunction with the CPU to accelerate rendering when exporting Podium Walker animations. This hybrid approach means we can no longer simply recommend "a system with a fast processor and a lot of RAM" and call it a day.

In order of importance, these are the things you should prioritize when building a system for GPU accelerated rendering with Iray.

  • Supported NVIDIA graphics card with Iray drivers - Not required, but necessary for GPU acceleration. Rendering animations without supported hardware will be slow.
  • CPU speed - Faster clock speed and greater number of cores generlaly yields faster rendering.
  • RAM - Recommend at least 16GB, though less will often suffice.

  Graphics cards with Iray support/drivers:

NVIDIA is steadily adding Iray support, primarily to higher-end NVIDIA cards in the GTX and QUADRO line. New/future chip architectures may not have Iray drivers immediately, but the current generation Pascal architecture is supported.

Currently supported NVIDIA GTX series cards:

Pascal: GTX 1060, 1070, 1080, 1080 Ti, TITAN X

Maxwell: GTX 950, 960, 970, 980, 980 Ti, GTX 750, 750 Ti

Kepler/Fermi: GTX 500, 600, 800 series, including mobile variants.

Currently supported NVIDIA workstation class cards:

Quadro: P6000, M6000, P5000, M5000, M4000, 6000, 5000

Tesla: P100, K80, M40, K40m, K10, C2050, K20c, M2050

Note: These cards are not strictly required to use Podium Walker with Iray, they are simply required for GPU acceleration during rendering. If a supported graphics card is not present, Podium Walker will fall-back and use the CPU to complete pathtracing calculations.

Recommended hardware:

For still visualization: GTX 960 and better (GTX 970, 980, 1060 6GB, 1070, 1080). Our lowest spec recommendation would be the GTX 1050 though you can get away with slower cards if you're patient. SU Podium is a better option for still visualization for users with a low-end GPU, but fast CPU.

For animation: GTX 970 and better; anything slower is going to be painfully slow in Iray photoreal mode. With the render mode set to Iray interactive, you have some leeway, but we still recommend the GTX 970 (or 1060 6GB, which is comparable).

  Iray Performance Benchmarks:

Migenius Iray benchmarks: Performance benchmarks are occasionally published at Migenius for a selection of cards and cloud-based services. Currently available comparisons from newest to oldest:

Iray's scaling efficiency is extremely high with NVIDIA CUDA devices. Multiple GPU configurations yield a near-linear performance increase, with per-card efficiency at approximately 95% of max performance up to 8 cards.

  Example frames - Hardware, speed, samples

1. Lake House - Photo-real mode - 4,000 samples

A complex model like this one requires a significantly better machine to render with this fidelity. This image was rendered on a 2x GTX 980 rig, with an Intel Xeon processor. 4000 samples were necessary to eliminate noise in the grass.

2. ID Mode - 1000 samples - GTX 470m, Intel Core i7 - Approx 20 min.

An example of what to expect on lower-end, older, or mobile hardware without a supported Iray card. In Iray interactive, this sort of relatively simple still-visualization is very feasible on less up to date hardware; final rendering for this scene was in the 15-20 minute range, though you'll note that both the GPU and CPU are generations old laptop hardware.