NVIDIA MDL™ - Material Definition Language

About MDL

The NVIDIA Material Definition Language, NVIDIA MDL™, defines the properties of materials for all rendering modes of Iray. Material properties range from the color of surfaces, to their reflection or refraction properties, light emission of surfaces, scattering and absorption properties of volumes, and even to additional geometric properties of surfaces, such as cut-outs, displacements, or bump maps, which are commonly not modeled in the primary geometric description.

MDL’s powerful physically based hierarchical layered material model relies, at its core, on the following:

  • Bidirectional Scattering Distribution Functions (BSDF) 
  • Emissive Distribution Functions (EDF)
  • Volume Distribution Functions (VDF)

MDL describes what should be computed and the renderer, in turn, uses this information to decide how to compute the image depending on the geometry, lighting and camera settings.

Iray can take full advantage of multiple importance sampling, which improves quality and speed, by using MDL because it separates the material properties from the rendering.

What the experts say

"It is a pleasure to work with MDL. We now have a material definition language that is simple to use, flexible and on top of that very efficient.

Layering materials in such a physically accurate way will allow our customers to visualize their designs with more ease and realism than ever before.  Thank you NVIDIA ARC." 

- Jean-Luc Cuinier, R&D Technologie Realistic Rendering Development Director, Dassault Systèmes

Iray Shared Material Model

The individual rendering modes of Iray use the same material definitions made possible by MDL. 








With this shared material concept software integrators, artists and designers to work on one set of material descriptions, resulting in a consistent look for all rendering modes - Iray Photoreal and Iray Interactive. 



Key features

  • Layer materials in a practical manner
  • Declarative structure for material definitions and procedural structure for function definitions
  • Designed for highly-parallel processor architectures
  • Surface, volume and geometric material properties
  • Parameterized material definitions
  • Share and package materials for catalogs
  • Material re-use and customization
  • Example material library
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