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Can someone with some coding knowledge explain to me what it is that determines the viewport performance of various 3D software? For example I've heard that Zbrush can push more polygons simply because it handles the vertices differently than any other 3D software.

Let's take for example Blender. I'm assuming that viewport performance in Blender is partly determined partly by the use of OpenGL? If they were to eventually move on to Vulkan would that improve performance? What other sort of optimizations would Blender need to have to get a viewport that can handle more polygons?

Sorry if this is a really stupid question. I literally have zero knowledge of this and I tried to look for answers on google with no luck.
depends on the api and how it interacts with your gpu
Some modern 3D tools still use shoddy and old implementations of OGL
For starters, most CAD-like software (like Solidworks) that uses NURBS is often done on the CPU, because curves can't be hardware-accelerated, at best you could be looking at a triangulated representation. In this case, optimization often comes down to CPU speed and optimized drivers on the GPU side, but such optimizations are often locked behind professional lines of GPUs.

ZBrush is also a special case in that it runs entirely on the CPU, you could have no GPU in your system and it would be about the same. This is because the mesh is stored in system memory and is updated based on local screen-space changes made from the viewport. You can see this when shifting thin objects, any geometry that is behind them won't render until after you finish the movement. Meanwhile, Blender and Mudbox are both true 3D editors, and as such sculpting capacity is dependent on your VRAM and however much transform your GPU can handle.

Pretty much every other piece of 3D software is a crap-shoot when it comes to how the APIs are handling the 3D rendering implementation.
Wow! He's a pretty slow one!

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