The Arnold architecture was designed to easily adapt to existing pipelines. It is built on top of a pluggable node system; users can extend and customize the system by writing new shaders, cameras, filters and output driver nodes, as well as procedural geometry, custom ray types and user-defined geometric data. The primary goal of the Arnold architecture is to provide a complete solution as a primary renderer for animation and visual effects. However, Arnold can also be used as:
- A a ray server for traditional scanline renderers.
- A a tool for baking/procedural generation of lighting data (lightmaps for videogames).
- An an interactive rendering and relighting tool.
Arnold is a highly optimized, unbiased, physically-based 'Monte Carlo' ray / path tracing engine. It doesn't use caching algorithms that introduce artifacts like photon mapping and final gather. It is designed to efficiently render the increasingly complex images demanded by animation and visual effects facilities while simplifying the pipeline, infrastructure requirements and user experience.