Autodesk has announced Maya 2008, a new version of its modelling, animation, and rendering software. As with the new 3ds Max 2008, the software has taken on Autodesk's current naming convention for its products, and is an upgrade to Maya 8.5.

Maya 2008 aims to offer increased polygon modeling efficiency. Autodesk says that Maya 2008 enables artists to quickly create, manipulate and place polygons that form highly detailed characters and environments, through a streamlined Mesh Smooth workflow, a new Slide Edge feature and improvements to Booleans, Bridge, Bevel and other tools.

The upgrade boosts the Maya's overall performance improvements through both multithreading and algorithmic speed-ups, according to Autodesk. The company says that the Poly Reduce function is now up to 30 times faster for a 22k face poly mesh, and Poly Smooth is now up to four times faster; the Maya nCloth cache performance up to three times faster on a cache of 10k vertices; and mental ray translation for a 20k mesh instanced 2,000 times is over 20 times faster.

Autodesk says that Maya 2008 is better equipped to create and display content destined for the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles. It offers support for DirectX HLSL shaders in the Maya viewport, a new hardware shader API, enhancements to the high-quality render view, accelerated mental ray texture baking performance, and more.

Maya 2008 also offers improved skinning and rigging toolsets, including new, non-destructive skin editing capabilities.

Autodesk expects to ship Maya 2008 in September 2007. Maya 2008 will be supported on the Windows and Linux operating systems (64-bit and 32-bit versions), as well as Mac OS X for Intel-based Macintosh and PowerPC computers (32-bit version only).

Maya 2008 Complete (standalone) costs $1,999 (around £980), while Maya 2008 Unlimited (standalone) costs $6,999 (around £3,430) for Maya 2008 Unlimited (Standalone). The upgrade price from Maya 8.5 Complete to Maya 2008 Complete is $899 (£490), and the upgrade price from Maya 8.5 Unlimited to Maya 2008 Unlimited is $1,249 (£612).