Let me preface this by saying that I have not used A:M for quite a while. I do keep tabs on it though because it does hold a special place in my heart, I've still got a few buds around here, and I'm still seeing kick-arse art made with the program. Let's begin...
CPU+GPU rendering was a way to increase render speed for the Cycles render engine inside Blender. Now that EEVEE is coming on the scene and is basically a game render engine, Cycles will probably be used only for specific tasks that EEVEE can't handle (yet), such as caustics, etc.
I don't know what went down when trying to get A:M to render on a GPU, or why there wasn't much of an increase, thus I can only speculate. If A:M is still converting from splines to polygon's at render time, perhaps that has something to do with it? (If you know, please inform those of us who weren't around! )
Would faster render times in A:M be appreciated? Sure. Nobody likes to wait for a render. I don't care who you are or what you actually say, you hate waiting, it's human nature. --Especially those that are on a deadline, whether client or self-imposed.
And this is where things like the Advanced Viewport in MODO or VPR (Viewport Preview Render) in Lightwave can come in handy. Turn them on and let the render iterate a bit to get an idea of your texturing/lighting. Something that A:M could use, but will most likely never get, again based on having to convert splines to polygons.
Yeah... I think to get a lot of features added into A:M that users have asked for (even in this thread) would mean releasing A:M as open source and bringing in the hobby programmers to try and add the features. A:M doesn't seem to sell enough* to cover the cost of hiring 2-3 more programmers to add some of the functions. Steffen does a great job, but to cover what everyone wants, you need a small team. ^Do note, I'm not suggesting or pushing that A:M be released as open source.
Like John Bigboote says, he noticed huge increases in render time when exporting from A:M to Element3D.
Which makes me think that it's the converting of splines to polygons that is the issue with rendering in A:M. I don't know how the render engine handles things right now, but if it has to convert from splines to polygons for EACH frame before rendering, wouldn't/couldn't it be possible to convert the entire animation to a cache file of polygons and then render that out? Would/Could that make GPU rendering a more accessible feature? Again, all of this could have been looked at when looking into GPU rendering, I'm not sure.
And please, don't think that I'm saying rendering in A:M is a big issue, it's not. Rendering is what it is... And as soon as we can all afford the quantum machines that can render in real time as we think these things up will be the best day of all our creative lives!
Just to give an idea of what some former A:M users have talked about... Since the Big Exodus**, there are a few of us former A:M users that have talked amongst ourselves and said that if A:M ever went to a polygon based format, quite a few of us would return. A:M has a simple straightforward way of working. Does the UI/UX need some updating? Yes, but that happens to all programs (Just look at Lightwave). The one thing that us old users talk the most about, is A:M's animation tools. Some of its features were waaaaay ahead of the times and some programs today try to emulate or imitate, but still don't hold a candle to how A:M does it. So, if it were possible to integrate polygon/sub-d modeling, while still keeping splines intact as they currently are, you'd probably see a few old faces popping in again. You'd probably also solve some of the render talking points and probably be able to add all new functionality. A pipedream, but one can dream, right?!
Sorry for hijacking the thread...
* - This is based on an outsider looking in point of view. Looking at how active these forums are, as opposed to how active they used to be.
** - For those that started using/joined the forum after 2006 -- (Mako Voice) -- But that is a tale for another time... -- (/Mako Voice)