Mandelbrot sets have fascinated me since I was 14. I traditionally wrote my own programs to generate the fractal. Today I decided to purchase Fractal XTreme, a professionally written program for Mandelbrot sets. It blew me away.


Fractal XTreme is the flagship program from Cygnus Software. They released the first version in 1997 for Microsoft Windows, and have been updating it ever since. I discovered it while researching Mandelbrot Sets online.

Why this program is amazing

As a computer programmer who has built Mandelbrot programs before (see my latest example), Fractal XTreme impressed me greatly. I know how challenging high precision math is, and how much computing power is required to generate the deep zooms. So when I first opened Fractal XTreme and started zooming into the Mandelbrot Set, the speed at which it rendered blew my mind.

My PC is running an Intel Quad Core i5. I opened up my task manager and watched as Fractal XTreme consumed 100% of all of my cores.

The program has some really amazing features:

  • Scroll to zoom
  • Different fractal types (like quadratic mandelbrots)
  • Julia sets, and animations
  • Color palette customization
  • Movie mode

I tried wrapping my head around the kinds of optimizations needed to make this program work. What kind of algorithm is used to do floating point arithmetic? How did they optimize the Mandelbrot formula? What is the method used for coloring pixels?

What the programmers of Fractal XTreme have accomplished is extraordinary, beautiful and innovative.

It’s Addicting

You pick a spot in the Mandelbrot Set and start zooming. And you zoom. And zoom some more. Then you pick another small corner, and pretty soon you’ve hit the mathematical limits of the universe. You’re looking at a visualization that is smaller than anything our minds can conceive.

It’s mathematical beauty in its purest form, derived from an algebraic formula that is elegant in simplicity. They call it the God’s fingerprint.

I’m blessed to live in an age where computing power is cheap enough that I can explore this wonder at home. There are still practical limitations, and my CPU can only take so much before the program slows down.

See my gallery below for some cool zooms.


Forget all the fancy video games we have. This program can keep me entertained for hours. I purchased the license after five minutes of using this program. At $9.95, it’s a steal. Go to Cygnus Software and try it!