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A reality simulation platform accommodates multiple modeling software programs

Nvidia’s Omniverse will go open beta later this year.

November 13, 2020 |
A simulation created using the Omniverse platform

The Omniverse platform is derived from Pixar's widely adopted Universal Scene Description, onto which Nvidia can apply multiple GPUs. Image: Leeza Soho - Zaha Hadid Architects

One of the roadblocks to collaboration among AEC firms has been the clunkiness of trying to reconcile different modeling and simulation software plug-ins.

Nvidia, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based technology company that designs graphics processing units (GPU) for gaming and professional markets, thinks it’s come up with a solution: Omniverse, which Nvidia describes as the first RTX-based 3D simulation platform that fuses the physical and virtual worlds in real time.

In other words, Onmiverse lets AEC firms using multiple BIM software work together on projects across one platform seamlessly.

Omniverse is based on Pixar’s widely adopted Universal Scene Description (USD), the leading format for universal interchange between 3D applications. About three years ago, Pixar open sourced the entire platform to generate interest from other industries besides animation. Nvidia has built Omniverse on top of USD. The platform uses Nvidia technology such as real-time photorealistic rendering, physics, materials, and interactive workflows between industry-leading 3D software products.


BD+C's The WEEKLY speaks with Wood Bagot's Robert Cervellione and Nvidia's Richard Kerris.


“We can apply multiple GPUs to the platform, and can control how much data gets transferred [during collaboration],” explains Richard Kerris, Nividia’s GM-media and entertainment.

Over 40 firms—included Ericsson, Industrial Light & Magic, and Foster+Partners—and as many as 400 individual creators and developers have been using Omniverse for a year and providing Nvidia with feedback. The platform will go open beta by the end of this year, says Kerris. “We believe this could have huge implications across multiple verticals.” Kerris adds that Nividia hopes Omniverse will be useful for software developers.


Omniverse’s early adopters include Woods Bagot, the architecture and consulting practice with 13 offices, which is currently exploring the Omniverse platform to have a hybrid cloud workflow for the design of complex models and visualizations of buildings.

Before Omniverse, explains Robert Cervellione, Design Technology Manager for Woods Bagot’s New York studio, “platforms were limited to the software being used.” What makes Omniverse unique, he says, is that the platform can mix such popular plug-ins as Revit, Rhino, and Grasshopper. “Now, we don’t have to spend a lot of time exporting stuff from one plug-in to another. Even a non-technical project manager can see, real time, what’s going on,” says Cervellione.

Woods Bagot is already using Omniverse on several projects it has submitted for competitions. And it’s been testing to make sure that all of the plug-ins remain stable. “It’s such a well-designed system that it takes very little effort to get it to work,” says Cervellione. “It glues everything together.” The next step for his firm, he says, is to roll it out to its offices so that it can be used for live projects.


The industry’s major software leaders, including Adobe, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, Robert McNeel & Associates, and SideFX are supporting Omniverse. Blender has been working with Nvidia to add USD capabilities to enable Omniverse integration with its software.

“The importance of our two-year collaboration with NVIDIA cannot be overstated,” says Amy Bunszel, senior vice president for Design and Creation Products at Autodesk. “Projects and teams are becoming increasingly complex and we are confident Autodesk users across all industries will share our enthusiasm for Omniverse’s ability to create a more collaborative and immersive experience. This is what the future of work looks like.”

A complete list of software partners is available at nvidia.com/omniverse.

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