This page provides information on the two license types that Phoenix FD provides.


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Fluid simulations generally take a long time to finish, which for larger scenes with high detail may require several hours and even days in some extreme cases. If you have access to a network of several computers, you can speed up the work process by letting a simulation run on one machine, while you prepare another one on a different machine. You may even have several simulations running on different machines at the same time. In order not to have to buy a full Phoenix FD license for each one of these machines, Phoenix FD for 3ds Max provides two types of licenses: GUI (Interface) and Simulation. The combination of one GUI and one Simulation license is referred to as a Workstation license.

Both types of licenses are installed automatically when Phoenix FD is installed. These licenses might or might not be required at a particular moment, depending on the type of activity you are doing. 

  • GUI (Interface) License - Required for a machine when accessing the user interface of the  FireSmokeSim and  LiquidSim on that machine, or for starting a simulation from the user interface on that machine.
  • Simulation License - Required for a machine when a simulation is started on that machine, regardless of the method used to start it.

Note that distributed simulations in which different parts of the same simulation are calculated simultaneously across several machines are currently not implemented. You can use the Simulation licenses to run simulations on separate machines without accessing the user interface and without engaging a GUI license. For more information on how to submit simulations that use only a Simulation license and how to do advanced scripting for more complicated tasks, see Simulation Without a GUI License.


The following chart lays out the circumstances under which each type of license is required:

ActivityGUI LicenseSimulation License
Access the user interface of the FireSmokeSim and LiquidSimRequired 
Run a simulation on the local machine from the user interface of 3ds MaxRequiredRequired
Run a simulation without a user interface on the local or on a remote machine using Backburner, Deadline, or another render manager Required


If the required license is not found, Phoenix FD will display an error message with the possible reason why the license cannot be found. You can use the information here to solve the problem or see the Installation Troubleshooting page.


License Availability

If a license is not found, the issue might be with the availability of the license at that particular time.

GUI (Interface) License

Each Phoenix FD license allows one GUI License to be run on one machine at a time. However, the number of instances of the GUI license on any one machine is not limited. In other words, you can open several instances of 3ds Max on one machine and run the Phoenix FD GUI in all of them, and this will consume only one GUI License.

If you can't obtain a GUI License, it is possible that your machine can't reach the license server, or that all the Phoenix FD licenses are currently in use. See Installation Troubleshooting.

Simulation License

In order to obtain a Simulation License, the simulation call must be able to reach the license server.

If you get an error message about a license when attempting to run a simulation, see Installation Troubleshooting.

If you wish to run a simulation on a different machine on the network, see Simulation Without a GUI License.