Fermi: Entering the Era of Computational Visualization
ILM opted to write its GPU-accelerated fluid solver using NVIDIA CUDA rather than Open GL because it simplified the development process.
"Every new generation Quadro is designed to leverage the latest features of CUDA," Spina continues. "We are now working with studios like ILM to integrate their production data sets into our quality performance test suites. This will now provide a more reliable method of regression testing and reduces the risk of making pipeline chances during productions.
"The Fermi's tight coupling of computation and visualization processes makes achieving final renders on the GPU in one step a reality. No longer does the design need to incorporate a pre-computational step and an additional render process, CUDA can provide the framework to compute and render on the GPU within a single process reducing latency. This opens possibilities for implementing similar techniques in other physical simulations such as RBD and water."
In fact, ILM plans to incorporate additional NVIDIA CUDA-based tools into future project pipelines and continues to explore new ways to implement Quadro GPU-accelerated rendering into its vfx workflows.
Meanwhile, Mari, the 3D texture painting package developed at Weta Digital for Avatar is GPU-based and was developed with Quadro hardware, providing up 700 4K textures. With quick turnaround, you can paint creatures in realtime, in motion, with no need for a render farm. Mari was also used on The Lovely Bones).
As Senior R&D Engineer at Weta, Jack Greasley led the team that developed Mari. He has taken Mari to The Foundry, where he serves as product manager for the system. "Running Mari on Fermi Quadros immediately gave us a dramatic speed boost," boasts Greasley. "Having access to more texture units, more GPU RAM and larger texture sizes will allow us to better support our user's creativity. Freeing people from the constraints of hardware means they can concentrate on their art and not arbitrary technical limitations."
Internally, The Foundry developed Blink, a multi-device image processing framework, which allows the same software to run on CPUs and CUDA-based GPUs. The Foundry decided to tackle one of its hardest algorithms first: the motion estimation-based retimer, Kronos. On the Quadro 5000, The Foundry can compute a 10:1 slowdown on SD footage at the peak rate of about 200 frames-per-second.
Ray tracing, too, will be much faster and more efficient, thanks to Fermi architecture, enabling software developers to create high performance solutions in their choice of computing languages. NVIDIA also assists developers to quickly take advantage of the GPU by providing the NVIDIA OptiX ray tracing engine for accelerating custom solutions, and iray from mental images, for a complete, world-class renderer.
"Our photorealistic iray rendering solution demonstrates the massive speedup delivered by NVIDIA's new Fermi GPU architecture," said Rolf Herken, CEO & CTO of mental images. "iray delivers dramatically higher performance on a single Quadro GPU than on a quad-core CPU. In addition, iray can leverage multiple GPUs in a single workstation or across a cluster of machines for ultimate performance scalability."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.