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AMD joins NVIDIA as Blender Development Fund patron

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The $120,000/year pledged by the GPU developer will fund Vulkan support in Blender.

AMD has joined NVIDIA and Epic Games as a patron of the Blender Development Fund. The CPU and GPU developer will pay $120,000/year, covering the salaries of a further two full-time Blender developers. As well as supporting for AMD's own technologies and paying for general development, the money will be used towards migrating the software to the cross-platform Vulkan graphics API.

A further boost for cross-platform graphics tools

AMD's sponsorship matches that of NVIDIA earlier this year, with the firm contributing $10,000/month to the Blender Development Fund. With the additional support from game developer Embark Studios announced earlier today, that takes the current total to €94,980/month ($109,227/month), just shy of the current "ultimate goal" of funding 20 full-time core Blender developers.

In its tweet announcing the deal, the firm commented: "AMD is proud to join the Blender ... Development Fund as a Patron, contributing to the success of Blender's excellent open source tools and keeping AMD technologies well supported for all users."

That phrase keeping technologies "well supported" is the same one used when NVIDIA backed the fund earlier this year, but in AMD's case, it probably also encompasses open standards.

The firm was an active promoter of OpenCL for GPU computing, and according to the Blender Foundation, one of the goals towards which its funding will be used is "Vulkan migration".

A 'next gen' successor to OpenGL, the Vulkan API is seen as a possible solution to the problem posed by Apple deprecating support for OpenGL and OpenCL in macOS 10.14, making it possible to write tools that run on multiple manufacturers' hardware without using Apple's proprietary Metal API.

AMD has already introduced support for Vulkan in Radeon ProRender, its third-party rendering plugin for Blender and other DCC applications like 3ds Max and Maya.

About Author

Jim Thacker

I've been writing about Blender since the mid-2000s when, as editor of 3D World magazine, I commissioned a series of on-set diaries from the Blender Foundation's first open movie. Since then, I've worked with ArtStation and Gnomon, ‘development edited’ books for Focal Press and Design Studio Press, and am currently editor of industry news website CG Channel.

12 Comments

  1. Another Mac user feeling a little less despair over here. Although I’m still a little worried that there have been no new Mac betas of blender for over a week now :(

    • Because a mac us useless for professional 3d work.
      I have a Mac at work that costed us 5k usd.
      I managed to build a 5 times faster machine with only 1.5k usd.

      That's why no serious 3d artist uses macs.

      • Second that. Mac is a piece of overpriced junk compared to a custom PC rig which costs twice as cheaper and twice as more powerful as that of Mac.

  2. AMD already has Pro Renderer for Metal. The fact that AMD could write the Metal API back-end and the Blender Team being an Enterprise $299 annual OS X subscriber getting the tools and APIs/Docs and tech support seems like an obvious direction for OS X.

    Vulkan would only be an emulation layer on OS X. It'll never be endorsed by Apple as Apple has already merged the best of low level metal and OpenCL with its own Compute Shaders. It's much faster than SPIR-V ever will be on OS X.

    One has Metal, MetalKit with Model I/O and Metal Performance Shaders [Neural Nets, Ray Tracing, etc], massive documentation and Catalina for free to build on with XCode 11.2. Hobbling macOS with Vulkan is a dumb move. Moving to Vulkan on Windows and Linux is a brilliant move and one already well positioned to be done quickly--the code foundation for Vulkan in both AMDVLK and RADV are mature. The Compute side isn't for RADV and the ROCm is massively overkill and not remotely designed with Blender in mind--another reason Apple dropped and merged the best of OCL with Metal.

  3. I am so curious what new technology in AMD for Blender3D. Nvidia have CUDA (GT and RTX), OptiX (RTX), Nvidia Denoiser (GT and RTX). Intel have Intel Denoiser in Blender 2.81.
    That is good news AMD join Blender3D.
    I hope AMD can work for Blender3D Cycles and EEVEE. I know AMD have AMD Radeon Pro Render.

  4. Apple: "Let's develop this API and hardware just for OSX..."
    The rest of the industry: "Hey all, we made a new API and connectors for all to use"

    Going on since forever.....

  5. The Blender viewport definitely needs a speed boost for large and complex scenes, like cities. I hope to see speedup improvements in 2.81 and beyond. I'm sure Vulkan can improve that, with proper support by experienced graphics pipeline coders. But there's already plenty of room for improvement based on 2.80's OpenGL 3. I still have to test AMD's ProRender with Vulkan.

    I hope AMD can keep up with Nvidia, and offer good competition in the graphics cards department.

  6. My primary hope is that the "hybrid" rendering that AMD is adding to their PRoREnder will see some light in Blender. Best of both worlds - Eevee for most, and Cycles for shadows and reflections. Fingers crossed

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