Cloud Computing: How GPUs will Change Your CG Dreams

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GPUs for 3D Production and Efficiency

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Cloud computing has been the big buzzword in the tech industry for last decade or so.  In an industry where a new evolution of software technology are driving new hardware and vice versa, artists and companies have to invest a lot of money in their technology  to keep efficiency and quality at a high level.  Cloud computing and virtualization are finally beginning to catch up to the graphics industry’s needs, and this will lead to more flexible options for company’s and employees.

The Dream

Here is my dream.  I want the hardware to be able to calculate liquid and smoke simulations in real time and near real time updates with lighting changes.  I want to be able to handle immensely complicated scenes without the viewport screeching to a halt, and without having to constantly hide things from view that then take even longer to un-hide again.  Many of you may be thinking, well you can get that capability now.  There are a few companies that specialize in creating workstations for the 3D animation and visual effects industry.  This is true, but my dream is to be able to do this from anywhere in the world with a decent internet connection.  To hop from train to train in Europe perhaps from France, to Germany, and on down to Italy without lugging a giant expensive desktop computer or an even more expensive laptop that almost makes my baggage exceed weight limits.  I dream of a simple, light weight travel solution, without losing efficiency and productivity, and perhaps a warm beach and a cool drink.

The Reality

Companies like boxxtech have built desktop workstations that make apple fan boys jump up and down with excitement like it is Christmas morning.  With NVIDIA’s Maximus GPU system that became available last year workstations are able to provide immense boost in efficiency and productivity.

“For the media and entertainment industry, Maximus gives digital content creators more freedom and creative flexibility. Film editors and animators can work in real-time on their most challenging projects, create complex simulations and interactive visual effects, and work in 3D texture painting workflows without being constrained by a maximum number of textures.”

These are the solutions that get me the first half of my dream.  Real time feedback with render engines, like Chaos Group’s Vray RT and Mental images iRay, harnessing the calculation power of Graphic Processing Units(GPU’s) giving artists more immediate feedback with even the most complicated simulations.

Most recently NVIDIA announced the release of its Grid VGX software, with partners Hewlett-Packard and VMware, that will help improve the performance of high end graphics software on virtual desktops.  NVIDIA has also launched the Grid Visual Computing Appliance (VCA), for those companies not wanting to virtualize quite yet.  This system provides up to 16 concurrent users improved computational power without having to buy separate systems for each user.

It could be in the future we are able to access these virtual workstations through smart phones and tablets.  THAT’S THE DREAM!!!  Obviously it is just the beginning of the dream, but in the last couple years the improvements made in the GPU processing, and now the handling of virtualization are really exciting.  I can practically feel the Carribean breeze on my face as I virtually work from under a thatched umbrella.


On the Beach 3D Art

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