August 10, 2011 - Yesterday at the Houdini User Group Meeting at SIGGRAPH 2011, Side Effects Software offered audiences a sneak peek of the next major version — Houdini 12 — with its focus on speed and performance. Side Effects is excited to now share this exciting news with the whole community.

Key Houdini 12 Features

Houdini 12 is shaping up to be a game-changing release and the following list shows you some of the new version’s key features. More information about the impact of this important release will be available when Houdini 12 goes into beta in October.

New Geometry Engine - Houdini 12 includes a completely new geometry engine which will make Houdini faster and more memory efficient. The geometry engine makes Houdini’s core thread-safe and opens the door for extensive multi-threads. Side Effects will be multi-threading key geometry-related nodes in Houdini 12 and will continue this work in future releases.

Houdini 12 will have a new geometry format which will make it possible to open bigger files more efficiently. You will even be able to selectively load parts of a geo file. Rotating geometry will be at least twice as fast in Houdini 12 while deleting groups from a large model can go as high as 1200x faster.

Memory use will go way down especially with attribute-heavy geometry where many operations are applied. Artists will save as much as 80% in memory use compared to Houdini 11, depending on the complexity of the scene.

The gains in memory efficiency mean that you can do more with the system you have. With a 24GB machine, Houdini 11 was able to create about 7 million points in a FLIP fluids sim. With Houdini 12, early tests have shown that number to be around 77 million. And we haven’t even fully optimized the code yet.

Bits and Bytes - Houdini 12 also includes a number of other features and enhancements which will increase performance and workflow for artists. Operators and Digital Assets will now have built-in versioning, Houdini 12 now uses Double Precision in place of Floating Point and there will be a new performance monitor which has a heat map option for finding nodes which are slowing you down.


Pyro FX 2.0 - The creation of fire and smoke is a staple in the VFX industry and Pyro FX has been put to the test by many Houdini artists. With Pyro FX 2.0, you will see significant speed improvements as well as a new workflow which uses simpler dynamics networks and lets artists control simulations with artist-friendly geometry nodes. Pyro FX 2.0 also uses Auto-resizing fluid containers and introduces clustering technology which very efficiently breaks down and distributes the clusters - taking Houdini’s existing distributed dynamic simulations to the next level.

Pyro FX 2.0 has been designed to take advantage of the GPU to provide virtually real-time feedback to artists. While on the CPU alone Houdini 12 is up to 13x faster than Houdini 11, the extra boost from the GPU brings that figure to an impressive 140x faster.

Bullet - The Bullet solver is now tightly integrated into Houdini’s dynamics context and performs brilliantly with very large datasets. Just like Houdini’s native RBD engine, it supports dynamic fracturing using constraint networks for glue.

Cloth - The cloth solver performance is making production-quality garment simulations a reality in Houdini 12. It can now handle tough cases while creating compelling creases and folds that don’t need to be “fixed” post-simulation. Comparisons with Houdini 11 show a 150x speed improvement. We look forward to working with beta testers to make this solver production-ready.

Fluids - FLIP fluids can now handle much larger data volumes and offer better behavior and performance thanks to both the new geometry engine and our latest research in fluid dynamics. In addition, Voxel liquids can now be distributed properly with no boundary artifacts allowing for bigger simulations spread over several computers.

Instancing - Render instancing in Houdini 12 has been improved significantly. For example, a rendering of 10,000 instances with random materials applied takes only 2.8 seconds in Houdini 12 compared to 380 in Houdini 11. That is an amazing speed increase of 136x. Coincidentally, this is great news for anyone interested in using SpeedTree V6 to create vegetation in Houdini.

Viewport - Following in the footsteps of Houdini 11‘s viewport quality enhancements, Houdini 12 comes with a radically faster viewport that takes advantage of the latest features in OpenGL. Picking for example is over 100x faster than Houdini 11. Now that the new geometry engine speaks directly to the viewport, Houdini 12 will work much more efficiently with heavy data sets allowing you many more options for working on screen.

Please note that the following video shows improvements from before the new geometry engine was in place. Things are only going to get better.

You will also notice that Houdini 12 raises the viewport quality even higher. Volumes and Pyro FX simulations show much more detail in the viewport and more accurately depicts the look of the natural phenomena being represented. Here is a smoke simulation rendered using the viewport.

An October Beta

Houdini 12 is shaping up to be one of the most important releases ever for Houdini users both in terms of performance and richness of features. More details about this new release will be available in October when the software goes into beta. Because this release radically changes the underlying architecture of Houdini, a final release date is not being set until Houdini 12 has been beta tested thoroughly and proven itself solid for production use.

All of Annual Upgrade Plan customers will be given access to Houdini 12 at that time through their sales representatives and support will be offered for customers who want to port custom code to the new geometry library to take advantage of its flexible and thread-safe architecture.

Houdini 12 Teaser

To start putting Houdini 12 through internal testing and to promote the benefits of the new geometry engine, the following teaser was put together by a small team of interns in our Toronto office. In just over a month, all the parts of this teaser were brought together and rendered using a early test versions of Houdini 12.

  Learn More Learn More
  Tutorials Gallery Demo Reels Companion Products