Cutting the Cost of 3D Animation


What: Working with Illumination Entertainment, the developer and producer of Despicable Me, IBM have developed an innovative solution to reducing the vast processing power, energy and data centre space required to render 3D animated films.

Why: Previously, studios have been forced to use enormous server farms to produce the data-crunching power they need.  The gigantic cost of tin, space and power has in the past been a major inhibitor for smaller studios wanting to produce animated films.

How: “IBM technologists assembled a single, refrigerator-size computer–think of it as a rendering farm in a box. They packed 6,500 processor cores into the server, a density never before achieved with Intel’s x86 processors.

Normally, putting that many processors into such a small space could have resulted in a literal meltdown of the equipment. Engineers sidestepped that issue by using IBM’s Rear Door Heat eXchanger, a water-cooled door that allows the system to run without external air conditioning.

The energy savings are substantial… it takes about 4,000 kilowatt hours of electricity to render a typical 3-D animated film. This approach slices 40% off the energy requirement.”

Find the full Smarter Planet blog post here.

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