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3/17/2005
01:30 PM
Darrell Dunn
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Hurry Up: Filmmakers turn to blades for big project

C.O.R.E. Feature Animation settled on an installation of 504 dual-CPU blade servers from IBM, which drastically reduced the floor space needed for cabling and interconnections.

Creating a movie-production company on the fly became a reality for C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, thanks to blade-server technology.

C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, whose production credits include such movies as X-Men and Resident Evil: Apocalypse, about 18 months ago created a subsidiary called C.O.R.E. Feature Animation, initially dedicated to the production of a full-length 3-D animated feature.

"It was a great opportunity," says Tom Burns, director of special projects for C.O.R.E. Feature Animation. "The problem, however, was everything in the movie business has to be right now, and we had to create a data center from scratch."

In talking with others who had been involved in 3-D animation movie projects, Burns knew he needed at least 1,000 CPUs to help generate the 500 Gbytes of data a day needed to render an 85-minute feature. "Just think about sticking a thousand individual computers in a room with a thousand individual power cords and a thousand Ethernet connections, and it quickly becomes unworkable just from a maintenance point of view," he says.

C.O.R.E. Feature Animation settled on an installation of 504 dual-CPU blade servers from IBM, which drastically reduced the floor space needed for cabling and interconnections. The company used IBM's Director and open-source xCAT software to manage the blade farm. "We probably spent as much time on the management-software installation as we did on the hardware itself," Burns says.

Installation of the blade-server farm took less than three months, and C.O.R.E. Feature Animation is now well on its way to completing the as-yet-undisclosed movie. "I'd say we couldn't have made this picture without the blade technology," Burns says. "It would just have been too long and arduous a process with traditional servers."

Return to main story, Blades: The Edge Of Acceptance

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