Smultron – the Fractal Editor – Not!!

Smultron - the Fractal editor Smultron, the little Text editor that you could edit fractals with.

You can open Flame files, edit the text inside, save the files, and Smultron will update the Fractal image for you.

But Smultron knows nothing about fractals. How does this work?

Its a Quicklook aware application, that can use other applications’ Quicklook plugins to render large thumbnail images with. Smultron is using Fractal Architect’s Quicklook plugin to render those thumbnails.

Version 2.1 Release Notes

The Version 2.1 update is now available on the Mac App Store. It has a number of bug fixes and fulfills the Sandboxing requirement that Apple is imposing on all Mac App Store apps on Mac Lion.

Changes for Version 2.1 

Big Change  ================

1. The app has been Sandboxed on Lion Mac OS X to comply with Apple’s sandboxing requirement for Mac App Store products.

2. Rendering engines available have changed. Sandboxing the app (on Lion only) disables plugin renderers. So the renderers are:

Lion:       OpenCL CPU and GPU (if OpenCL capable GPU is present on the system)

Snow Leopard:  OpenCL CPU, CUDA (Nvidia GPU only, if CUDA installed on system), Flam3 (if user provides the Flam3 plugin)

3. On Lion, AV Foundation is used to render movies instead of QuickTime. The choice of Codecs for making movies is different (both support default H.264).

Bug Fixes =========

1. Fractals rendered to file with transparent backgrounds did not render properly.

2. Fixed possible crash when opening the Color Gradient editor seen only on certain Mac Pros.

3. Making a video from the Triangle editor no longer changes the fractal permanently.

4. Fixed View -> Variants menu entry being enabled when it should not be.

5. Fix for upside down vertical tiling of very large tiled images

6. Progress bar for very large tiled images no longer jumps back to 0% progress at start of rendering each tile.

7. CUDA renderer did not create Render Direct to Movie movies at the correct size. They were very small.

8. Rendering to file always created two or more fractal tiles, when only one was needed.

Minor Change ============

1. CUDA libraries have been updated to 4.1.28. Speed improvement.

50% Off thru March 15, 2012

Fractal Architect 2 has been released. See Announcement and Release Notes for all its new features. Apple released it on the Mac App Store today.

Its a brand new product on the App Store and is not a free upgrade for customers that bought the original Fractal Architect on the App store. Since Apple does not yet support cross-grade pricing on Mac App Store apps, we are offering the product at a special reduced price through March 15, 2012.

Version 2.0 Renderer Performance Comparisons

MacbookPro 2011 ATI GPU

 Macbook Pro 2011 with ATI 6750M

OpenCL GPU is 2.7X faster than Flam3.
OpenCL GPU is 3.6x faster than OpenCL CPU.

MacbookPro 2009 Nvidia GPU 9600M


Macbook Pro 2009 with Nvidia 9600M

OpenCL GPU is 3.1X faster than Flam3.
OpenCL GPU is 4.4x faster than OpenCL CPU.

Macbook Air 2011 - no GPU

Macbook Air 2011 with no OpenCL usable GPU

Flam3 is 1.4x faster than OpenCL CPU.


Note that the Macbook Pro 2011 OpenCL GPU is 7.3X faster than Flam3 on a Macbook Air 2011. So, a better Mac makes a big difference in performance.

Flam3 is consistently faster than the OpenCL CPU renderer. The OpenCL density estimation algorithm is culprit here. But Flam3 is consistently slower than OpenCL GPU.

The Test Fractal

Fractal Architect v 2.0 has been released

Fractal Architect 2.0 is available on the Mac App Store as of January 23, 2012.

The theme of this release is: A Taste of Fractal Animation. Its not the full animation solution the product line is evolving toward, but there is a lot to play with now.

A secondary theme is: No More Flam3. The author of the Flam3 renderer requested that it be removed from the product. So its no longer bundled with Fractal Architect.

Fractal Architect can still interface to the Flam3 renderer, but you the user, will have to provide your own Flam3 copy for Fractal Architect. As Flam3 is GPL licensed, you have the complete freedom to do just that.  But of course, this is totally optional, as Fractal Architect provides its own renderer(s).

Another secondary theme is: OpenCL based CPU & GPU Acceleration. For Macs with recent ATI & Nvidia GPUs, the Fractal Architect renderer can run on the GPU and a good deal faster than on the CPU. A Flam4CUDA  renderer has always been part of Fractal Architect, but it was Nvidia only, so ATI users could not use it.

So with Fractal Architect, you can choose between 4 different renderers:

  • OpenCL CPU (Flam4 compatible) – for all Intel Macs
  • OpenCL GPU (Flam4 compatible) – for Intel Macs with recent discrete GPUs – both ATI & Nvidia – (Intel IvyBridge mid 2012 or so)
  • Flam4 CUDA (Nvidia GPUs only)
  • Flam3 CPU – if you provide your own renderer copy

In the future, Fractal Architect plans to support the Flam5 OpenCL renderer with support for true 3D, custom variations, and pure Xaos based topology.

(Note: Flam5 has been previously called Flam4OpenCL on PCs. The OpenCL renderer provided now with Fractal Architect is derived from the earlier Flam4CUDA which matches the Flam3 feature set.)


Release Notes for Fractal Architect 2.0

Changes for Version 2.0 

New and Improved Features  ================

1. New Big Feature: Cross-Breeder editor allows you to breed two fractals and create video animations of the cross breeding.

2. New Big Feature: New OpenCL based renderer. Intel CPU based rendering supported on all Intel Macs.

On Lion, GPU accelerated rendering is available for Macs with recent Nvidia & ATI GPUs. (Older GPUs [2008 and earlier] may not be capable of OpenCL acceleration, see

3.  New Big Feature: Basic animation & animation video creation. You can animate and create videos by:

  • Rotating a specific triangle
  • Rotating multiple triangles (those that whose Rotates setting is checked in the Transform list) (Flam3-like animation of multiple triangles.)
  • Enlarging/Shrinking a specific triangle
  • Moving a specific triangle up, down, left, or right.
  • Cross breeding two fractals.
  • Changing flame parameters: transform weight, color index, color speed, opacity,  hue, viewport x&y, viewport scale, zoom, & rotation
  • Changing Variation weights & variation parameter values

You can animate by dragging a slider, showing 2 – 30 thumbnails, show a little video using those thumbnails, OR create a high quality video of the animation (to be saved to a file).

4. Improved workflow: Button bar allowing easy access to fractal editing features. Easy switching between the various editor windows.

5. Fractal Architect is Flam3-free. Flam3 is no longer bundled . Snow Leopard users can install their own copy of the Flam3 render and have FA use it. Lion users can right now install Flam3, but the upcoming Sandbox requirement for Lion Mac App Store apps, may remove that capability. (When FA is sandboxed in the near future, we will know the answer then.)

Continue reading Release Notes for Fractal Architect 2.0