SC Chair on Why HPC Matters
Funding for research in HPC – particularly in the U.S. – is under constant scrutiny and as a result innovation and discovery suffers. While SC has done an excellent job at promoting some global HPC innovations, SC chair, Trish Damkroger felt it was important to highlight how impactful HPC is to our everyday lives. For instance, one would be hard pressed to experience a “normal” day for the average citizen without encountering something that wasn’t developed using HPC.
According to Trish, this HPC Matters campaign links computational science to the best of modern science and technology to properly inform the public and remind ourselves why HPC Matters. It is also an effort to broaden our message so that policymakers, tax payers, and our communities completely understand the importance of HPC not only in intensive research, but also in solving critical medical questions or developing something that seems as simple as a better baby diaper, but is equally as complex.
It was drawn from the realization that while people are impressed with the size, power requirements and abilities of today’s machines they really have very little understanding of how it touches them personally. Even many technical HPC professionals working in their area of expertise can quickly forget how HPC affects them in their lives outside of work. We also felt this campaign would instill a great sense of pride in the HPC community by recognizing and highlighting the impact of the massive amount of impressive work evident throughout the world.
Will there be evidence of HPC Matters in multiple areas? It will be a prevalent theme throughout the conference, for SC14 and for future years. It is a seed that we planted in 2013 and the community responded positively to it. We challenged the community to create short videos sharing their own stories of how HPC impacts their lives and communities. We received so many great submissions that you can view on our “Favorites” list on our YouTube channel. On the exhibit floor, you can check out the HPC Impact Showcase, which will highlight real success stories like how HPC is helping to stop the spread of contagious diseases, which is a problem we are confronting right now on a global scale.
We have also created five new videos that focus on different storylines – from helping Parkinson’s patients to modeling climate change to enabling artists to make breakthroughs in animation. The videos will be available on our social media channels and will be shared throughout the conference.
Lastly, the theme will be an obvious focus at the new, inaugural HPC Matters plenary that will be held on Nov. 17th at 5:30PM CST Since we feel this message is so important, we have decided that this plenary should be open and free to the general public.
How did the HPC Matters Plenary come about?
In order to augment our message we felt it very important to engage other partners in the effort – particularly leveraging our many exhibitors.
This summer, we distributed a solicitation to some of our largest and longest serving exhibitors (both industrial and research), explained our concept and asked them to respond with proposal for a talk, if they were interested.
We had many outstanding responses even with very short notice. From those responses we picked SGI in collaboration with NASA. We felt their proposal provided the strongest HPC matters message in a very direct, open and factual way. We hope this will be the first of many “HPC Matters” plenary talks, discussions, and presentations – even outside of the conference.
Will it be around in future years?
Yes, the SC Committee, including the future SCxy Chairs, have agreed that this will be a strategic directive for at least through SC16. If it turns out to be the success – which we hope and think it will be – you can expect it to be around for many years beyond that. There are just that many incredible stories to tell. This year is just the tip of the HPC Matters iceberg, so to speak.
What can people expect at the Plenary
In our call for participation we asked exhibitors to tell the stories of how their customers are using HPC to improve people’s lives. We set the expectation that these stories need to appeal to a wide audience, from the most sophisticated CS researcher to the general public.
At this year’s plenary you will hear how the Internet and social media have fundamentally changed the connections between people, nations and cultures. You will hear how wider access to high performance computing is playing a key role in fulfilling humanity’s needs, ranging from the basics, such as food, water, shelter and health, to hardship reduction, care for the earth, commerce and entertainment. You will hear how our community is answering some of life’s most profound questions and improving the general quality of life and play.
How will companies be considered in future years? We applaud the organizations that bravely stepped forward this year to support such a new and engaging initiative. Future years will follow a similar path and will be expanded to include an even wider pool of candidates. This year we expect both SGI and NASA to set a high bar that will motivate other organizations to continue to share important global HPC triumphs.
Special thanks to SC Communications Liaison, Brian Ban.
Post from HPCwire Staff ：
Linux’s Place in The Film Industry
In 1991, a student named Linus Torvalds began developing a new operating system as a hobby. That hobby, which would later be called Linux, forever changed the world of computers. Since Linux is open source, anyone can license it for free and modify the source code to their liking. This has made Linux one of the most popular operating systems in the world.
Linux is everywhere. The web server maintaining this page is very likely Linux based. You may have a version of Linux in your pocket right now. Google’s Android operating system is a modified version of Linux. Several world governments use Linux extensively for day to day operations. And, many would be surprised to learn that Linux has become the standard for major FX studios.
In the early 90s, Hollywood studios relied on SGI and its Irix operating system to run animation and FX software. At the time, Irix was one of the best systems available for handling intense graphics. But a change was about to sweep through the computer industry. Windows began to dominate the business world, and Intel began making powerful chips at a lower price point. These market forces made expensive SGI systems hard to justify.
When studios began looking for a system to replace Irix, Windows wasn’t an option due to its architecture. The proprietary software in place at many studios was written for Irix. Since Irix and Linux were both Unix based, porting that software to Linux was easier than porting to Windows. Render farms were the first to be converted. In 1996, Digital Domain was the first production studio to render a major motion picture on a Linux farm with Titanic. DreamWorks, ILM, Pixar and others quickly followed. Workstations were next for Linux once artists realized the performance boost in the new operating system. Under pressure from studios, commercial software vendors got on board and started releasing Linux compatible versions. Maya, Houdini, Softimage and other popular 3D applications quickly became available for Linux.
By the early 2000s, most major studios were dominated by Linux. While Windows and Mac environments are still used for television and small independent films, practically all blockbuster movies are now rendered on Linux farms.
Linux has many advantages for render farms. The obvious benefits are cost and customization. Since Linux is free to license, startup costs are greatly reduced compared to commercial systems. And, since Linux is open source, completely customized versions of the operating system are possible.
There are other advantages. Linux machines can multitask well and are easy to network. But the single greatest advantage is stability. Unlike other operating systems, Linux doesn’t slow down over time. It is common for Linux machines to run for months, yes months, without needing a reboot.
With all these advantages, it’s surprising to learn many online render farms still haven’t embraced Linux. While a handful of farms like Rebus, Rendersolve and Rayvision support Linux, Windows is still the most common environment for cloud rendering services.
It’s not likely anything will replace Linux’s role in the film industry soon. Studios are heavily invested in Linux with millions of lines of custom code. While anything is possible, it would take another industry change akin to the PC revolution to shake Linux from its place in Hollywood.
The story of Linux is almost like a Hollywood movie itself. It shows us that anything is possible. It’s hard to believe that a simple student project forever changed the world of computers and became the backbone of the film industry.
About: The author, Shaun Swanson, has fifteen years of experience in 3D rendering and graphic design. He has used several software packages and has a very broad knowledge of digital art ranging from entertainment to product design.
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The Future of 3D Rendering is in the Cloud
When we think of 3D animation, we imagine an artist sitting at a work station plugging away in software like 3DS Max or Cinema 4D. We think of pushing polygons around, adjusting UVs and key frames. We imagine the beautifully rendered final output. What we don't often think about is the hardware it takes to render our art.
Illustrators may get by rendering stills on their own workstation. But, rendering frames for animation requires multiple computers to get the job done in a timely manor. Traditionally, this meant companies would build and manager their own render farms. But having the power to render animations on-site comes with a considerable price. The more computers that have to be taken care of, the less time there is to spend on animation and other artistic tasks. If a render farm is large enough it will require hiring dedicated IT personnel.
Well-funded studios might buy brand-new machines to serve as render slaves. But, for smaller studios and freelancers, render farms are often built from machines too old to serve as workstations anymore. Trying to maintain state-of-the-art software on old machines is often challenging. Even when newer equipment is used, there is still a high energy cost associated with operating it. The electricity required by several processors cranking out frames non-stop will quickly become expensive. Not to mention, those machines get hot. Even a single rack of slaves will need some type of climate control.
These issues have made many animation companies see the benefits of rendering in the cloud. As high-speed internet access becomes available across the globe, moving large files online has become commonplace. You can upload a file to a render service that will take on the headaches for you. They monitor the system for crashes. They install updates and patches. They worry about energy costs. Plus, there is the speed advantage. Companies dedicated to rendering are able to devote more resources to their equipment. Their farm will have more nodes. Their hardware will be more up-to-date and faster.
The solution cloud rendering provides couldn't come fast enough. There seems no end to the increasing demands made on render hardware. Artists and directors are constantly pushing the limits of 3D animation. Scenes that may have been shot traditionally a few years ago are now created with computer graphics to give directors more control. With modern 3D software it's easier to meet those creative demands. Crashing waves in a fluid simulation, thousands of knights rushing towards the camera or millions of trees swaying in the wind might be cooked up on a single workstation. But, even as software improves, processing those complex scenes takes more power than ever before.
It's not only artistic demands from content creators putting render hardware through its paces. The viewing public has enjoyed huge improvements to display resolution in recent years. The definition of high-definition keeps expanding. What many consider full HD at 1920 x 1080 is old news. Many platforms now support 4K resolution at 4096 x 2160. In many cases, that's large enough for hi-res printing!
The public is also getting use to higher frame rates. For years, the industry standard for film has been 24 frames per second (fps). But, in 2012, Peter Jackson shot The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at 48 fps.
While some prefer the classic look of 24 fps film, animators have to prepare for higher frame rates becoming standard.
Everything is pointing towards cloud rendering becoming the norm. While studios can put up with the hassle of their own render farms, there is little need to when companies like Rayvision can do it better. Managing your own render farm could soon be as uncommon as hosting your own website. It's something that is simply better done by a dedicated company. Welcome to the age of cloud rendering.
About Author :Shaun Swanson - who has fifteen years of experience in 3D rendering and graphic design. He has used several software packages and has a very broad knowledge of digital art ranging from entertainment to product design.
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The Evolution of 3D Rendering and Why You Need to Consider It
When it comes to the world of rendering, it is easy to say that 3D rendering has by far become the most popular with graphic designers, filmmakers, architects and etc. This rendering is gradually changing the dynamics of engineering and creative graphic industries.
This type of rendering manipulates images in a three dimensional manner, promoting a more realistic visual effect. Here are few of the many reasons why you should consider using a cloud rendering for 3D rendering.
Reduced Design Cycles 3D rendering can make solid modeling possible which eventually shortens the design cycle and ultimately results in a streamlined manufacturing process. Using cloud rendering services for 3D visuals leaves you with a highly qualified team that can bring out the best of your project. High Quality with Low Costs One of the best reasons to consider 3D rendering is that you will be not only able to save time, but also acquire a quality 3D product that can make waves. Moreover, the costs involved in this type of rendering are significantly lower. What more could you want when you have access to the best quality services in the market at a cost effective rate! Online Publications 3D rendered projects can easily be published online, without hassle. These can help you attract attention via social media and access to a potential clientele who can pay top dollar for your images.
At Fox Renderfarm we offer pioneering self-service cloud computing for rendering, research into cluster rendering, parallel computing technology and computing services for cloud rendering.
If you are considering keeping up with technology by using 3D rendering in your projects, cloud is the way to go! If you are considering the services of online or cloud rendering for your project, or even a Fox Render Farm, contact us today at our 24-hour hotline:+86 130 5800 5448 or at email@example.com and we will be happy to be of service!
Will GPU Rendering Dominate the 3D Industry?
Relying on memory rather than processor speed, GPU rendering can be much faster than normal CPU rendering. The speed increase is due to the way different processors handle jobs. The main processor on a motherboard is good at tackling a few difficult calculations at a time. Think of the CPU as the manager of a factory, thoughtfully making tough decisions.
A GPU, on the other hand, is more like an entire group of workers at the factory. While they can’t do the same type of calculations, they can handle many, many more tasks at once without becoming overwhelmed. Many rendering tasks are the kind of repetitive, brute-force functions GPUs are good at. Plus, you can stack several GPUs into one computer. This all means GPU systems can often render much, much faster!
There is also a huge advantage that comes long before you create your final output. GPU rendering is so fast it can often provide real-time feedback while working. No more going to get a cup of coffee while your preview render chugs away. You can see material and lighting changes happen before your eyes. So why don’t we all just switch to GPU rendering and go home early? It isn’t that easy. GPU based renderers aren’t as polished as their older, CPU based cousins. Developers are adding new features all the time, but they still don’t support all the tools 3D artists have come to expect from a rendering solution. Things like displacement, hair and volumetrics are often missing from GPU based engines.
The largest problem facing GPU rendering may be the way graphics processors handle a scene. The all-at-once nature of GPU rendering means an entire 3D scene has to be loaded into memory to work. Large scenes with tons of polygons and lots of hi-res textures simply won’t work for some GPU based solutions.
There is also a learning curve. Many GPU renderers require their own materials, shaders and lighting. So, scenes set up for CPU based rendering can’t simply be switched to a GPU renderer, even if the same company produces the software. 3D artists have to choose which workflow they want to use at the beginning of the project.
Will GPU rendering ever catch up to CPU based software? Will it dominate the 3D industry? Time will tell. In the meantime, the best way to render quickly and still enjoy the advanced features of CPU rendering is by using a cloud rendering solution like Fox Renderfarm.
The author, Shaun Swanson, has fifteen years of experience in 3D rendering and graphic design. He has used several software packages and has a very broad knowledge of digital art ranging from entertainment to product design.
Is Building Your Own Render Farm The Best Option?
Thanks to growing high-speed internet access, production studios now have new options for rendering their animations in the cloud. Online render farms, like Fox Renderfarm, offer studios enormous rendering power at low costs. This has many production studios asking a question for the first time. Should a studio build and maintain its own render farm, or pay for a cloud solution?
Before high-speed internet was a reality, a studio’s only option was to build an on-site render farm. Sure, a small shop could render on unused workstations at night. But, that wouldn’t do the job for most studios. So, owning racks of dedicated rendering equipment became standard.
Owning an on-site render farm has its advantages. The system can be custom built for whatever a studio needs. It is always available. Since the studio staff built it, they can fix it when it goes down. And, since it’s on the premises, there are no security concerns.
But, owning a farm is costly. An average render slave can cost several thousand dollars. Multiply that by the amount of slave machines needed. Then, all those nodes need to be loaded with rendering software. Some software companies offer unlimited slave licenses for free. But, most charge a fee based on the amount of slaves. If the render farm is large enough, power consumption and climate control become concerns. If the farm operates non-stop, and multiple teams need access to it for different projects, one or more render wranglers must be hired to manage it.
Owning an on-site render farm is a good choice if a studio has a large budget, an IT staff, and needs a customized solution. But, not all studios fit that description.
Thankfully, there are now online options for rendering. At one end of the spectrum is collaborative rendering. In this model, users join an online network of fellow 3D animators who volunteer their computing power to be used by everyone in the collective. This is a great option for students and very small production houses since it’s usually free. But there are obvious downsides. Support for the latest renderers and plug-ins may be limited. Your equipment must be made available for other users to render their projects. The availability of, and quality of rendering equipment at any given time is unpredictable. Not to mention the security risks. It is hard to keep track of exactly who will see your files.
A collaborative solution may work for a studio when the budget is very tight, when security is not a concern, and when deadlines are flexible. The biggest challenge may be finding a collaborative network that supports the studio’s choice of rendering software.
On the other end of the spectrum there are professional, online rendering services. Cloud render farms charge you only for the time it takes to render. You can use them as much, or as little as you need. A good online render farm will have hundreds of top-notch machines with the latest software available to customers 24 hours a day. A good rendering service will also make security one of its top goals, so confidentiality is assured. All the IT troubles associated with maintaining the farm are handled by the render service, not the customer. Some online farms will even work with customers to load custom plug-ins if needed.
Since online rendering offers so much, several studios are choosing to forgo the expense of building, and maintaining their own farms. Even studios that already have a small render farm in place can benefit from cloud rendering when overflow work comes in. As internet speeds become even faster, and demand for rendering power grows, cloud rendering makes more and more sense for 3D studios. About: The author, Shaun Swanson, has fifteen years of experience in 3D rendering and graphic design. He has used several software packages and has a very broad knowledge of digital art ranging from entertainment to product design.
Render Farm – An Overview
What is a Render Farm? The term render farm may be a cause for confusion for many, which is why at first; we will simply attempt to explain what a render farm is. Essentially, a render farm is a cluster of computers which are used to provide CGI (computer generated imagery) through a batch processing method.The visual effects we see in movies that look so mesmerizingly unbelievable? Yes, render farms facilitate their creation. Render farms assist organizations and companies in having access to 3D graphics and animation graphics. Through their clusters, they make the integration of images available and streamline the whole process for CG artists.Typically, large farms use a queue manager which facilitates the rendering of high quality images by distributing the rendering processes to different processors. Some Advantages The computer cluster (high performance system of computers) renders CGIs mostly for television, film and animation. The rendering of complex and high quality images requires higher computing power. Render farms provide this computing power to render computer generated imagery. The reason render farms are preferred is because they are able to generate high quality imagery in reasonable amounts of time, because of their computing power. A Few Things to Look For A reliable render farm service should provide a free trial. The reason for this is that when it comes to visual effects, the stakes are quite high and rendering services tend to be a long term commitment. Thus, it is justified, in fact; advisable for you to seek a free trial to assess the quality of the services provided.Another important factor is that the support services should be excellent and available at any time. This ensures that the results achieved are aligned with your expectations. The entire rendering process can take time, and the customer support team should be efficient and helpful until the completion of the project, and respond effectively to any problems or inquiries. Since a certain level of quality is accepted from the visual effects, the imagery needs to be precise and in case a potential problem surfaces in the process, the support team should be friendly and approachable.Finally, you should also assess the security measures of the render farm before entering into a contract with them. It’s always good to ask for the security measures employed by the provider, to ensure that the system is safe.
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