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Techno Babe Struts as SIGGRAPH Attendees Get Soaked in Tech

By John Virata

As SIGGRAPH wound down on Thursday it became apparent that there is a lot more technology than can be seen in just a few days of cruising the show floor. This is always the case, more so when the show is local and you have to fight through L.A. traffic each day to get to the show. I visited quite a few booths and missed a whole lot more for lack of time. The toolsets that are used to drive entertainment are becoming less expensive and more powerful, and some toolsets previously unavailable have made their way into the commercial software realm. Although the show was more compact than those of recent years, the focus has never wavered. Read on for some of the more interesting aspects of technology that I witnessed as the show wound down.

AMD was out in full force at the show, with many showgoers checking out the latest in 64-bit technology from the CPU underdog. the big news came from AMD itself when it announced that AMD Opteron CPU based servers and workstations are being used in Star Wars' Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The company announced that JAK Films is using AMD technology in everything from pre-visualization and pre-postproduction to compositing and rendering.

Judging by this news, it appears that its 64-bit Opteron offerings are beginning to be noticed, and many in the DCC industry packed the AMD booth, where the company's collaborators were showing everything from 3D animation tools to motion capture devices running on AMD CPUs. Michael Sagan, senior designer and technology principal in Trek's Advanced Concept Group was also in the booth, discussing how Trek's designers built the bikes (on BOXX Technologies AMD workstations) that helped catapult Lance Armstrong to his sixth victory at the Tour de France. AMD and its partners showcased a lot of technology at its booth, proving that AMD CPUs are a viable solution to Intel when it comes to the DCC market. there are many specialized workstation manufacturers that offer AMD Opteron based systems, and IBM, which builds 64-bit CPUs for Apple Computer, even offers an AMD Opteron based solution with its IntelliStation A Pro line of workstations.

Verari Systems, which debuted its first workstation offering for the DCC market at SIGGRAPH 2003 when it was formerly known as RackSavers, was back, showcasing its new NemeSys X64 workstation with PCI Express graphics in a new case designed to provide the ultimate in cooling for these high performance systems. Heat is the killer of high end workstations, and with the heat generated by the latest 64-bit CPUs and the accompanying graphics processors, heat dissipation is fast becoming a top priority issue that workstation engineers must address. Verari, whose clients range from Industrial Light & Magic to Conoco Philips, has chosen to tackle this with a chambered system solution, whereby the power supply and hard drives are located at the bottom of the system, in a chamber separate from the rest of the system. To alleviate noise, David Driggers, CEO of Verari Systems told me that Verari has chose to go with a larger fan that spins at a lower RPM, thereby pushing more air out of the system than that of a faster, but noisier, smaller fan. This larger fan is located in the center of the unit, right above the chambered section of the system. Couple this with a perforated metal case, and the result is a fairly quiet system that offers ample heat dissipation at the top of the system. Did I also mention that the system Driggers showed me was on wheels? Hopefully we can take a look at one of these systems in the near future and see how they perform. 

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Related Keywords:SIGGRAPH 2004, Massive Ready to run, AMD, Apple Computer,


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