AMD have just released a USD Hydra Renderer for the popular open source 3D package Blender. The USD or Universal Scene Description is an open interchange format developed by Pixar for moving data between 3D applications and game engines with minimal to no data loss. AMD is not the only 3D hardware company interested in USD, as NVIDIA are heavily pushing their Omniverse technology which acts as a hub of sorts for USD data. The USD Hydra renderer acts differently, it adds a new renderer (like EEVEE or Cycles) to Blender, for both output and viewport, that enables you to render USD scenes from inside Blender. It additionally provides tools for handling materials (using MaterialX, an ILM standard for texture interchange) as well as merging USD scenes with Blender scenes.
Details from the AMD OpenGPU page:
USD includes a rendering system called Hydra™, named so because it allows multiple renderers with one common interface. We adapted this system to work directly inside Blender. By adapting Hydra as a render add-on to Blender, any renderer that supports Hydra can be connected to Blender easily, by plugging-in to the Hydra add-on. Furthermore, the Hydra system is fast at sending scene updates and rendering, which leads to better renderer performance than using common rendering add-ons to Blender. Currently this add-on includes the Hydra OpenGL® renderer and the AMD Radeon™ ProRender plug-in for Hydra, though other Hydra render delegates should work easily.
Another important piece is enabling USD scene composition in Blender. We achieve this with a custom node graph, allowing users to pull in external data to mix with Blender data and filter, manipulate and export USD data. This allows powerful tools for pruning data, referencing data without loading it into Blender’s memory, interaction between multiple artists, and exporting composited scenes for offline rendering.
And like with USD geometry, we handle materials using the open source MaterialX open standard. Created by Lucasfilm Ltd.’s Industrial Light and Magic™ for sharing material graphs across renderers, it is quickly becoming the standard material format. This allows adding material node graphs from Adobe® Substance 3D Painter™ and various Autodesk applications, as well as exporting them.
MaterialX is a growing standard with increasing adoption across applications. To help encourage adoption AMD plan to launch a free Material Library for sharing MaterialX materials on GPUOpen.com. Users will be able to use it to download materials and import directly to the Blender Hydra plug-in.
The project is open source released under the Apache 2 open source license.
You can learn more about the AMD Hydra USD renderer for Blender, a tutorial on how to use and see it in action (and see it crash) in the video below.