Version 5 ships with several new built-in physically accurate shaders that will allow artists to push the boundaries of realism with their renders: Standard Surface, Standard Hair, Standard Volume, Utility shaders.
In Arnold 5, C++ has been cleaned of legacy features, refactored, extended and simplified so that writing new Arnold-powered applications is easier than ever, while resulting in faster, more consistent code.
Large OpenVDB volume caches can also load up to twice as fast, specially on highly-threaded machines. Preprocessing .tx textures is now multi-threaded and can be ten times faster. Both the implicit surface and curves geometric primitives are faster to ray-trace. Indoor scenes with multiple GI bounces, as well as objects with high transmission depth, can render up to two times faster. Opacity-mapped transparent surfaces, such as tree leaves, can render up to 20% faster, specially in machines with many threads. In many cases, images render both faster and with less noise.
Arnold 5 includes several sampling optimizations. New two-dimensional dithered sampling, which improves the visual distribution of noise at lower sample rates, significantly improves sampling results with soft shadows, indirect illumination and depth of field. Direct illumination sampling has been redesigned for quad, disk, and cylinder lights, helping reduce noise for both surface and volumetric lighting with these popular light types. Indirect illumination has been improved and can result in significant speedups for indoor scenes. Taken together, these improvements will allow Arnold users to get better results faster, while still enjoying Arnold’s ability to tackle the most complex production rendering challenges.
Arnold 5 is available now as a standalone renderer, as well as a plugin for Maya (MtoA), 3ds Max (MAXtoA), Cinema4D (C4DtoA), Katana (KtoA), and soon Houdini (HtoA) and Softimage (SItoA).