Elastic Cloud Computing at DreamWorks with Cerelink
It's no secret that cloud computing was discussed at SIGGRAPH as the next holy grail. The real question has been getting it ready for prime time and convincing studios that it's secure. Well, earlier this year one of the initial breakthroughs came as a result of the five-year remote rendering agreement between New Mexico-based Cerelink and DreamWorks Animation.
That's because during the past year DreamWorks rendered portions of Shrek Forever After, How to Train Your Dragon and Megamind on Cerelink servers in New Mexico. In fact, using a private computer cluster, or "cloud," DreamWorks Animation's campus in Glendale connected to a Cerelink operated data center in Rio Rancho to perform nearly 2,000,000 render hours for the Oscar-contending How to Train Your Dragon.
This not only achieved cheaper power and access to competitively priced ultra fast broadband networks, but also a cost in savings as well as a 25% cash-back rebate because of the New Mexico tax breaks.
"The experiment with our remote rendering system has been successful and it's exciting for us to be part of the DreamWorks production system," suggests Dr. Rod Sanchez, Cerelink's president and chief strategy officer. "We want to replicate this service with every other animation or CG production studio out there. We've talked to half a dozen other major studios and have technical proof of concept projects with three of them. But our goal is to be the dominant provider of render services in the U.S."
The genesis started with the following proposition: How does Cerelink use technology for economic development in New Mexico. Since the founders were all Intel vets, they decided to put their technical skills to work and decided to focus on the rendering of CG content for studios. They deployed $15 million in computer equipment for the DreamWorks experiment and are now ready to expand their capabilities.
"Right now we have two operating platforms just under 5,000 cores, the majority of which are Westmere core processors on HP Blade," explains Cerelink CEO James Ellington. "So we're in the early stages of providing diversity -- physical, network, security protection, which all of the studios want."