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What is Hybrid Rendering? #burningquestion

What is hybrid rendering? Burning Question

If you are new to 3D, you may have come across the term hybrid rendering. The Short Answer? It means that you can use both the GPU and CPU together for rendering. Some renderers utilize the CPU while others use the GPU. Then, there are a few renderers that use them together. This gives you the best of both worlds, like a car that uses both gas and electricity.

In Depth 3D Renderers
For more information on 3D Renderers, check out our In Depth article: Which 3D render engine is best? It’s often updated as new updates are released.

If you want to dive in a little deeper, keep reading. This is just an overview of hybrid rendering and why it can be helpful to 3D artists. This article is written in layman’s terms. In other words, I am not going to get too technical here. I’ll be explaining it as if I’m explaining it to my mom.

What are GPUs and CPUs?

First, let’s get some terminology explained. CPUs and GPUs are both microprocessors made of silicon. They both manage data. However, they really don’t do the same job.

You might call the CPU, or Central Processing Unit, the brain of the machine. It includes the logic unit, a control unit, decoding and execution of programs, and more[2]. This is where your clock speed determines how fast your applications run. When you launch a program on your computer or save a file, this is the job of your CPU.

The GPU, or a Graphical Processing Unit, renders your graphics and video. First developed to speed up 3D processing, today, they also render lighting and shadows, and more complex 3D elements[1]. They are generally more efficient, and the GPU has even evolved to handle more of the workload from the CPU. The GPU, sometimes confused with a graphics card, is actually the chip that lives on your graphics card.

If you’re a person who enjoys learning about the nuts and bolts of computers, watch the video below from Max’s Tech. He does a great job of explaining the duties of GPUs and CPUs and showing you what they look like inside your computer.

Why is Hybrid Rendering useful?

Hybrid Rendering takes the hybrid approach and uses both the CPU and GPU to render. This is becoming a more common option with renderers.

Allowing users to use the CPU and GPU together, has a lot of benefits.

  1. A speed boost. Big projects may need more RAM than your computer has available, so you may need to use your GPU to render. Some scenes may be simply too large to fit into your computer’s memory.
  2. Render farms. For the same reasons mentioned previously, if you are using a render farm but your project is gigantic, you can benefit from using both the CPU and GPU to render.
  3. CPU rendering is known to render more precisely than GPU rendering so by adding CPU rendering into the mix, you may get better results.
  4. Use all of the rendering nodes that you have available.
  5. GPUs have been in short supply and have been really expensive. However, good news. I read last week that the shortage is over.

Which products have a Hybrid Rendering option?

Below are just a few products that have a hybrid rendering feature. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few.

Chaos V-Ray

Chaos V-Ray introduced hybrid rendering in 2007. In fact, they put an article on their blog, Understanding V-Ray Hybrid Rendering, to explain the finer points of it. They include some benchmarks too for rendering with only GPU, only CPU, and with hybrid rendering.

The video below showed the feature when it was introduced in V-Ray 3.5 for 3ds Max. V-Ray for 3ds Max is currently at version 6.

Next Limit Maxwell

Maxwell has the option of rendering on GPU, CPU, or can render both at once. They do not seem to use the term “hybrid rendering” in their manual or marketing materials, however.

Maxwell also has a feature called Multi-GPU, introduced in Maxwell 5, which allows users to use two or more graphics cards while rendering. This is windows only, however. From the Maxwell system requirements, “Graphics cards that support CUDA platform (Nvidia), running on Windows. No AMD or Intel will work, sorry. This means the GPU engine is not supported for Mac, as they don’t use Nvidia cards.”

Redshift by Maxon

Redshift v3.5, released in April 2022, introduced Redshift CPU and Redshift XPU. Previously, Redshift was a GPU-only renderer and now it can also run on the CPU.

  • Redshift CPU: lets users render with just the CPU. This will allow users to render at CPU render farms.
  • Redshift XPU: let users render with a hybrid of the CPU and GPU simultaneously.
  • With the latest update in September 2022, Redshift CPU also allows users to use Round Corners, a feature that was not available back in April when Redshift CPU was released.

cebas final Render

cebas finalRender developed trueHybrid™ technology – bringing the power of CPU and GPU together!


  1. Central Processing Unit, Wikipedia.
  2. CPU vs GPU: What’s the Difference, Intel.

Redshift by Maxon

Redshift by Maxon

Redshift Now Available as Subscription

Redshift is the world’s first fully GPU-accelerated, biased renderer built to meet the specific demands of contemporary high-end production rendering in C4D. Tailored to support creative individuals and studios of every size, Redshift offers a suite of powerful features and supports complex, advanced shading networks and texturing capabilities as required for production-quality rendering. Redshift has the features and uncompromising quality of a CPU renderer, but at GPU rendering speeds.

Learn MoreTry Redshift by Maxon for free!

Chaos V-Ray

Chaos V-Ray

The one renderer that does it all.

With Chaos V-Ray, the creative possibilities are endless. From bold designs to captivating stories and mesmerizing art—no matter your vision. This remarkable renderer will bring it all together with photorealistic images and animations that feature unparalleled clarity.

So unleash your imagination! Whether you use 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, or Houdini for every step of your 3D journey, V-Ray allows users worldwide to craft stunning visuals in their favorite applications.

Purchase a single V-Ray license to access all V-Ray integrations, including 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Houdini, Maya, Nuke, Revit, Rhino, SketchUp, and Unreal.

Learn MoreTry Chaos V-Ray for free!

In Depth: Why Should I Use V-Ray?

In summary, V-Ray is a powerful 3D rendering system, built for designers, architects, and jack-of-all-trades. To be sure, click to learn about how artists use V-Ray. To emphasize, there are many examples and trial versions for every field!

In Depth: Why Should I Use V-Ray?
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