Arnold 5.3 includes a beta version of GPU-accelerated rendering. This beta feature is known as "Arnold GPU". Arnold GPU is part of Arnold, so you can choose to render on the CPU or GPU, without changing renderers.
The Arnold GPU beta supports a set number of Arnold features, including arbitrary shading networks, SSS, hair, atmospherics, instancing, and procedurals. See here for a detailed list of features and known limitations.
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The very first time you render with the GPU, the GPU renderer has to create a cache of shaders. This can delay the time to the first pixel for your first render.
Matching Noise on CPU and GPU
Matching noise can take a little experimentation, because Arnold GPU uses Camera (AA) sampling only. We recommend you use adaptive sampling.
Here are some guidelines:
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All textures must fit in memory. We recommend you use tiled and mip-mapped TX textures.