February 20, 2021 Jenny Ha

What is E-cycles & the speed race with Eevee

In the previous article, we have provided a general overview of Cycles, Luxcore and the realism in Blender. Today I will continue sharing my series articles to read on the topic of render engines for this software with the central question that drives my work, “Which is the fastest for Blender?” To find the answer, iRender will bring you deep knowledge about two other renderers that are well known for speed: EEVEE and E-cycles.

As you might know, EEVEE has real-time rendering capabilities that save you a lot of time in post-production. That is also the reason that many people choose it instead of Cycles for their projects. Cycles is very flexible and brings great realism to the project but many designers really do not have much time, so if ever use Cycles, then it will be E-Cycles. Developer Mathieu Menuet has released E-Cycles as a new solution to its predecessor, the accelerated version of Cycle render engine which he claims is the fastest and easiest photorealistic renderer for Blender. EEVEE might be good enough for some jobs, but if you really want to go professional, you will need E-Cycles.

E-Cycles 2021 - February update - New features and improvements

E-Cycles is 100% compatible with Cycles, so you can use all your materials and add-ons while rendering on average much faster out of the box with NVidia GPUs. Features state of the art denoising technology, a streamlined UI for ease of use and fast workflows, Lightgroups in the viewport for instant feedback of lighting changes, and much more.

1. Speed

It is undoubted that one of the greatest benefits is its fast speed, and that is exactly what I want to discuss in this article. The developer has other arguments than me about the benefit of speed. To every designer, time is money. To his argument, users save money by taking advantage of their graphics card. Both make sense.

Thanks to code optimizations, rendering with NVidia GPUs and E-Cycles is equivalent to doubling the number of GPUs in your machine, on average.

But it doesn’t stop there. Thanks to a new option called “Persistent Data“, for fly-through animations where only the camera moves, E-Cycles only needs to do the pre-processing step once for all frames. In the example above, rendering takes just 3 seconds per frame on a single GPU. In this case, the persistent data option saves 7 seconds of pre-processing per frame.

2. Light Groups

I am quite certain that the most interesting feature with Blender users is light-groups. Easy usage, higher-quality render. All you have to do is put lights (or groups of lights) in collections so that you can adjust the strength of the ambient light.

When you tweak lights in the viewport, it will restart at 0 samples by default each time you change a parameter. But when using E-Cycles and light groups, you can tweak your lighting setup while the viewport continues to render, offering you very fast, high quality previews.

3. Denoising

E-Cycles AI-Denoiser requires between 4 and 10 times less samples than other AI-based denoisers to get a similar level of quality. Using less samples for the same quality means a proportional speed increase for your renders – that’s on top of the ‘regular’ speed increase E-Cycles offers on NVidia cards. For comparable image quality, with both the regular speed increase and the new AI-Denoiser, you can get up to 25x faster rendering. And it’s a one click setup!

Marvin Luebke did a comparison test and the result is that Cycles with OpenImageDenoise takes 40 seconds to render (left)  and E-Cycles with its AI-Denoiser takes 9 seconds to render (right).

The best configuration package for E-cycles

According to Menuet, CPU rendering using Open Shader Language is also faster than Cycles, however, in fact E-Cycles is mainly intended for GPU rendering. In Menuet’s tests with the standard Cycles benchmark scenes, E-Cycles renders much faster than the Blender master on a GeForce NVIDIA. Additionally, user’s results posted on Blender forum have proved that the speed boost varies from graphics card to graphics card. They suggest that the speed may be larger with more powerful or more recent GPUs of NVIDIA, for example: RTX 2080Ti, RTX 3080, RTX 3070, …

Source: BlenderNation

As you can see, at iRender, we offer a specific Multi-GPUs server for designers with a passion for Cycles, Octane, Redshift and more,… with different configuration options depending on your usage needs. In addition to the hardware powerful enough for the rendering process that mentioned above, iRender is always up to date with the latest card models from NVIDIA like RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 3080, RTX 3090 with VRAM from 10GB to 24GB totally satisfying for software that utilizes the power from multi-cards. They are also integrated with NVlink technology to expand data bandwidth between GPU and CPU 5-12 times faster than PCI Express interface. It can be used as a large memory pool for the GPU to display large and complex scenes

And ever you can reach the best performance of E-cycles when you choose our Ubuntu operating system because Blender and Ubuntu have in common that they are both open source. Such compatibility helps a lot when you use the right software in the right environment for it:

  • Ubuntu works well on most low to high configuration machines, consuming fewer hardware resources.
  • The terminal on Ubuntu is preeminent, serves well, increases productivity for data handling. You can easily render Blender with just simple commands, without much work on the interface.
  • Fast rendering speed.

Besides, E-cycles also works with AMD graphics cards running under OpenCL, even though the speed boost is smaller. So we highly recommend that if you are using E-cycles, it will get the most out of GeForce NVIDIA.

The best configuration package for EEVEE

Eevee can’t achieve the same fidelity as a production ray tracer like Cycles because Eevee’s built for real-time rendering and look development, with a PBR feature set that parallels real-time engines like Unreal Engine and Lumberyard to supports bloom, ambient occlusion, depth of field, screen-space reflections, motion blur, volumetrics, and indirect light baking. Additionally, it performs a bit better on Nvidia cards than AMD, and here is the reason:

Another difference from Cycles, Eevee is a GPU-only engine that doesn’t run on multi-GPU configurations so it will perform best when it benefits from high VRAM capacity. With the result that, iRender provides server 3 owning Xeon W-2245 CPU Processor with a high clock speed of 3.9 GHz- 4.7GHz and 512 GB SSD to specifically support the software only make use of a single card. This package comes with the latest RTX 3090 card from Nvdidia with the VRAM capacity up to 24GB.

This configuration package not only provides the powerful CPU and GPU but also 128GB RAM memory and 512GB NVme SSD to help hold data of multiple programs running in parallel, so multitasking (running multiple apps at the same time) is smoother and more quickly. We understand the actual needs of the artist, we understand that a modern 3D artist needs to be more creative than just a software.

Final thought

We hope this overview will help you choose a suitable but high computing configuration for the render engine you are using with our render farm, whether E-Cycles or EEVEE. At iRender, we try our best everyday to offer the best thing to our beloved customers. What you get is more than rendering to create the final product. You receive a new technology solution, a good service, high security, features and softwares, and other utilities to help you save costs and time, reduce stress while working and most importantly, it breaks the creative limits of many technology “artists” nowaday. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach us via Whatsapp: +(84) 981-868-890. We will be ready to help you in any way!

Become a member of the iRender community today to stop wasting pointless hours of rendering. Always at the forefront of cutting-edge graphics technology, we do the rendering, the creativity is yours!

Thank you & Happy Rendering!

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Jenny Ha

Greeting everyone. I always hope to know more about 3D artists and share benefit information with them :)


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