Cycles Now Faster Than Ever

Cycles has long been accused of being slow and therefore 'unfit for production'. But actually, Blender Cycles today has never been faster.

In fact, it's almost twice as fast as it was two years ago. I tested 3 different scenes on the same computer, using both CPU and GPU - and compared the results with the last 8 versions of Blender.

BMW Test

This is the standard benchmark file used on BA for years. No textures, pure geometry and reflections.

Interestingly, from 2.64-2.67 (October 2012 - July 2013) speeds got steadily worse! Until a sharp drop for 2.68 (October 2013). But in both tests, 2.71 is clear winner.

'Tears of Steel' Test

The 'quadbot' from the 'Tears of Steel' includes heavy image textures and more geometry, giving more fair results for production testing.

In both tests, Cycles is almost twice as fast as it was 2 years ago! A huge improvement, made possible by the dedicated dev team!

Strand Rendering

Hair, Fur and Grass have long been called out for being painfully slow to render. So I wanted to find out how it's improved over time.

Some very varied results indeed! Clearly some complications arose since it's initial 2.66 release, as the render times steadily worsened until a massive breakthrough in 2.7 for CPU and 2.71 for GPU.

SSS Rendering

Another new feature is Subsurface Scattering (SSS), introduced in May 2013. It's currently only supported on the CPU, so only one test here:

In just over a year, SSS has nearly halved in rendertimes! Very good news.


Cycles is making some huge leaps forward!

These tests clearly show that the devs are hard at work, doing all they can to improve Cycles.

And yes, new features start out painfully slow, but continued development makes them faster.

In every single test, 2.71 has been the fastest by far.

So if you haven't yet downloaded it do it now!

A big thanks to all the developers for all that you do! Although I'm sure you mostly hear complaints, your work has not gone unnoticed :)

Andrew Price