GridIron software, developer of the X-Factor network rendering plug-in for After Effects, has announced an AE plug-in that claims to boost performance by up to 300 per cent on multi-core and multi-processor systems. Nucleo runs under After Effects 6.5 on both Mac and Windows platforms.

Nucleo uses a particular approach to parallel processing that delivers these benefits, according to GridIron. It speeds up both previews of scenes and final renders.

In GridIron's quoted benchmark tests for previewing a large scene, a DDC (dual-processor, dual-core) 2GHz Opteron workstation with 8GB of RAM running Windows XP 64-bit took under half the time using Nucleo compared to After Effects standard processing (38 seconds vs 93s). A dual 3GHz Xeon system with 3GB of RAM running Windows XP Pro took 50s to preview the same scene using Nucleo, compared to 92s without.

A 3GHz Pentium D computer with 3GB of RAM running Windows XP Media Center Edition saw a 96s preview time reduced to 58s. The benchmark test dropped from 101s to 66s on a dual 2GHz Powe Mac G5 with 2GB RAM running Mac OS X 10.4. However, on a computer with one single-core processor, a 3GHz Xeon with 3GB RAM, Nucleo only reduced the time from 115s to 102s.

The DDC Opteron system's rendering time dropped from 1,119s to 547s using Nucleo. The dual Xeon workstation saw a reduction from 1,203s to 842s. The Pentium D PC took 985s using Nucleo, compared to 1,430s without. The Mac reduced its rendering time from 1,673s to 1,264s. Again, the single Xeon-based workstation saw the smallest time saving, lowering the time taken from 1,661s to 1,527s.

Nucleo costs $149.95 (around £85) per computer and will ship in mid-December, according to GridIron.