May 29, 2012
3D production studios are all too familiar with the amount of time required to render their work. They could invest in private clusters to speed the process, but it would require high initial costs and a steady workload to make the purchase viable. Cloud services provide a financially attractive alternative, but the task of provisioning hardware and building an accurate cost analysis can be challenging. Green Button is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider focused on removing the barriers of cloud computing for graphics firms.
Earlier this month, Stephen Spector, cloud evangelist at Dell, spoke about the company at the Austin Cloud User Group. Based in New Zealand, GreenButton was founded by Scott Houston, who built the private cloud used to render the Lord of the Rings. When production for the film had completed, he wanted to keep using the technology and formed a new company.
The platform comes with an SDK, allowing for independent software vendors (ISV) to incorporate GreenButton functionality into their offerings. The result gives end users the ability to offload high performance rendering jobs to AWS, Azure and Dell vCloud directly through a compatible application. In one case, a designer reported GreenButton rendering performing 20 to 43 times faster than his local computer. His job, consisting of 240 hours of content, took 5 hours 36 minutes to process, including upload and download of content.
An example was shown rendering a 90-frame clip within SAP Visual Enterprise Author (formerly Deep Exploration). On a local quad i7 processor, the user was able to process 1 frame every 3m43s. After the first frame, the user switched to GreenButton, and selected 90quad core processors for rendering. The remaining 89 frames were processed in 1m52s with a cost of $1.29 to the user.
Because of the variance in compute resources required per job, the platform also incorporates a predictive pricing model. When a customer chooses to render through a cloud service, GreenButton delivers three payment options. Cost per job increases with higher core counts. If time is not a major factor, the user can save some cash by opting for fewer processors.
GreenButton is currently available in applications including Blender, LuxRender, Geneious, Brazil, Yafaray and Incus. It is gaining further traction as Pixar announced RenderMan On Demand earlier this year. The service was developed together with GreenButton and is set to run on Windows Azure.
Network bandwidth and occasionally complicated hardware provisioning typically limit cloud services. Once those challenges are overcome with simple interfaces and higher throughput, services are capable of delivering high-power and low-cost alternatives to private clusters.
Large-scale, worldwide scientific initiatives rely on some cloud-based system to both coordinate efforts and manage computational efforts at peak times that cannot be contained within the combined in-house HPC resources. Last week at Google I/O, Brookhaven National Lab’s Sergey Panitkin discussed the role of the Google Compute Engine in providing computational support to ATLAS, a detector of high-energy particles at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
Frank Ding, engineering analysis & technical computing manager at Simpson Strong-Tie, discussed the advantages of utilizing the cloud for occasional scientific computing, identified the obstacles to doing so, and proposed workarounds to some of those obstacles.
The private industry least likely to adopt public cloud services for data storage are financial institutions. Holding the most sensitive and heavily-regulated of data types, personal financial information, banks and similar institutions are mostly moving towards private cloud services – and doing so at great cost.
05/10/2013 | Cleversafe, Cray, DDN, NetApp, & Panasas | From Wall Street to Hollywood, drug discovery to homeland security, companies and organizations of all sizes and stripes are coming face to face with the challenges – and opportunities – afforded by Big Data. Before anyone can utilize these extraordinary data repositories, however, they must first harness and manage their data stores, and do so utilizing technologies that underscore affordability, security, and scalability.
04/02/2012 | AMD | Developers today are just beginning to explore the potential of heterogeneous computing, but the potential for this new paradigm is huge. This brief article reviews how the technology might impact a range of application development areas, including client experiences and cloud-based data management. As platforms like OpenCL continue to evolve, the benefits of heterogeneous computing will become even more accessible. Use this quick article to jump-start your own thinking on heterogeneous computing.