AMD gives big quad to Big Animations creative core
Pune-based BIG Animation has been running its backend operations
on AMD Opteron Quad Core processors. Subhankar Kundu writes about the
benefits of this partnership
animation industry in India is at its exponential growth, set to reach $1 billion
by 2010 and so its need for a robust processing technology that can ensure meeting
international production standards at a much faster pace.
The Nasscom study indicates that the factors like superior technical manpower
to meet the 2-D and 3-D animation requirements, lower costs of animation production
and potential market in television channels are shaping up the Indian animation
industry. But, one factor that can never be overlooked is the technology that
goes behind making it possible for animation production houses to meet international
benchmarks and faster turnarounds.
Let's study a case focusing on how a technology plays the silent pivotal role
behind the hype over India's animation quotient.
Spread over 60,000 square feet, the first ever state-of-the-art end-to-end quad
core studio in Pune, BIG Animation, a Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Company
has been completely running its backend operations on AMD Opteron Quad Core
processors. About 80% of the systems are Linux-based, some run on Windows XP
and waiting to run on the latest Windows 7 and around 30 to 40 machines on Mac
OS. The core team consists of 150 members.
Big Animation required an IT infrastructure that satisfied its own benchmarks
of high performance.
The other major challenge was to ensure rendering as a processor intensive operation
as it had to look deep at the platform level for the right balance of stability,
performance and cost of ownership.
The apt solution that Big Animation figured out was going for Quad-Core AMD
Opteron processors to power their workstations.
The selection was based on their own benchmarks, file structures and referencing
levels as the studio believes in research and self-benchmarking instead of blindly
following the easily available white papers and biased feedbacks.
The result was apparent and Big Animation could find a distinct difference after
empowering their creativity with Quad-Core AMD Opteron. Compared to alternative
platforms, Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors take one minute less for each rendering
of 4K frame. At the testing phase, the same file had taken us five minutes on
a competitors processor.
By the end of 65,000 frames, Big Animation saves at least
5-6 days of running time. Across all the servers, it amounts to a saving of
lakhs of rupees in terms of power usage and resource utilization costs per project
annually. Faster processing ensures Big Animation can deliver ahead of time.
Using Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor driver patches, the company is improving
CPU efficiency and saving energy.
Ashish S. K., Chief Executive Officer, Big Animation, said, Studios like
Big Animation require carefully calibrated superior technology to help deliver
high-class animated films at a faster pace. Being the first end-to-end AMD quad-core
processor-driven studio, we have the competitive advantage over other studios
in terms of the time taken to deliver high-quality animated films to the market
at a reasonable cost.
The quality of 2D and 3D digital content today is based on high performance
graphic engines, highly intensive calculations and realistic output demands
for frame generations. We have always valued superior technology and wanted
our technology installations to be by far the best in the country, added
Ashish S. K.
In our industry, performance is directly connected to money. We considered
Intel Xeon before selecting AMD Opteron processors. We conducted our own benchmarking
for performance on HP and Sun Microsystems machines and several third-party
software. The results clearly showed AMD processors offered faster performance,
said Senthil Kumar, Senthil Kumar, General Manager-IT, Big Animation, the man
who spent rigorous hours on technical documents and benchmarking studies to
help him decide the right processor.
Big Animation did a benchmark with Sun Ultra workstations and with Apple Mac
Pro workstations. It was Apple Mac Intel Dual core where the systems were tested
on Intel Xeon dual core processor and Sun Ultra workstation also.
The rendering performance test that was actually built using Maya APIs to check
the time it took to render an image and to churn out a frame.
Kumar said, In this test actually, we didn't compare AMD quad core with
any other machine because no other vendor was having quad core processors at
that time. We did our benchmark with Dual core Intel Xeons against AMD dual
Kumar iterates, We wanted to do our own performance check and confirm
whether it's really like that what they say. We didn't want to go blindly on
the whitepapers of the vendors.
The selection process
Kumar analyzed several studio infrastructures before deciding on the parameters
for the Big Animation studio. AMD provided them with more options on over-clocking
and CPU throttling, whereas other vendors did not demonstrate to us how we could
Big Animation found 10-15% of difference between the performance of AMD Opteron
processors and competitors processors when they loaded some driver patches
and libraries from AMD. As a result, HP and Sun Microsystems boxes supporting
AMD were giving higher performance than those with Intel.
The AMD team, on the other hand, shared with him a lot of documentation and
keys to driver patches, small tweaks and keys into the operating system that
would help unleash more power from the processor.