Announced today in a knowledge article from Autodesk, mental ray will no longer ship with future versions of Maya beginning with release 2017.
NVIDIA is continuing mental ray as their own product and is testing their free Beta version for Maya 2017 with new features like the GPU accelerated GI Next and interactive rendering. In some scenes the GI Next performace is nearly 15x faster than CPU rendering.
Find out more in their press release: https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2016/07/25/mental-ray-maya/
NVIDIA has begun their own independent Beta for mental ray 3.14 for Autodesk Maya 2016.
Its nickname is “pi-ray” because, you know, 3.14159….
This is a development alpha/beta. Features are introduced one after another for testing and feedback instead of one big bag of features all at once.
Take a peek at their forum post for requirements and then send them an email to sign up! (You have to be a forum member to participate.)
While mental ray 3.13 has limited support for MDL, 3.14 promises complete support. In the meantime you can register and download these and give them a shot in mental ray 3.13 for Maya 2016 or most anything supporting MDL materials. Keep in mind the UI for populating attributes isn’t complete for this release of Maya and may take some work to try. You can also see how the materials are written with a text editor.
The download will install the vMaterial Hub and Library. You can find them on Windows here: C:\Users\YourUserName\Documents\mdl\nvidia\vMaterials
You can register here for the download links: vMaterials Download