July 5, 2020

GPU Rendering for SketchUp

First, GPU-Accelerated Computing

GPU-accelerated computing uses the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) to accelerate power thirsty applications, such as rendering software. GPU based computing offloads intensive portions of an application to a computer’s GPU, while the remainder of the code runs on its CPU.

Pioneered in 2007 by NVIDIA, GPU accelerators now power energy-efficient data centers in government labs, universities, enterprises, and small-and-medium businesses around the world. They play a huge role in accelerating applications in platforms ranging from artificial intelligence to cars, drones, and robots.

How a GPU works differently than a CPU

The difference between a GPU and a CPU is how they process tasks. A CPU consists of a few cores optimized for sequential serial processing while a GPU has a parallel architecture consisting of thousands of smaller, more efficient cores designed for handling multiple tasks simultaneously.

See more on what is gpu computing at NVIDIA and BOSTON LABS

What is GPU rendering? 

GPU rendering means that the rendering engine utilizes the power of your computer’s Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) for rendering, instead of the more typical reliance on the Central Processing Unit (CPU).  GPU rendering is fast and less power hungry. What is GPU rendering – NVIDIA article.

Which is faster GPU or CPU Rendering?

GPUs (NVIDIA) have made more dramatic speed gains over the last 10 years or so than conventional CPUs (Intel, AMD), which could mean GPU based rendering becomes more popular than CPU based rendering in the future.  NVIDIA predicts that GPU speed will continue to increase exponentially, and by 2025 outperform CPU speed by 1,000x.

For many designers, the driving force behind migrating to GPU based rendering is speed. SketchUp users frequently ask, “How much faster is GPU rendering compared to CPU rendering?” This article by BOXX helps provide some insight: GPU Rendering vs. CPU Rendering. As GPU rendering engines become increasingly popular, you will probably want to check out what’s available to see if the hype matches your expectations.

GPU Rendering for SketchUp

Here are a few of the GPU based SketchUp rendering engines available today:

Allura GPU 

Powered by NVIDIA Iray®, Allura from Render Plus Software is a physically based 3D GPU renderer.  Allura delivers amazing rendering speeds, high quality images, and a satisfying, iterative rendering experience.

Podium for GPU

Pro Walker by Podium is powered by NVIDIA Iray, harnessing the power of your GPU to accelerate rendering; make changes and iterate.

Bloom Unit

Bloom Unit lets you create photoreal scenes in the Cloud using the power of the NVIDIA Iray rendering engine.

Thea Presto  

Thea Presto runs on both the GPU and CPU simultaneously.  Presto is tuned for interactive rendering and the combined GPU/CPU computing power produces high quality photorealistic output.