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July 28, 2010

Clouds Over SIGGRAPH

Steve Campbell

I believe it was George Bernard Shaw whose observations on British and American English coined the now famous quote –”England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”  Today I think I know how he must have felt, though my example may seem a lame in comparison.

I had the opportunity of spending the day at SIGGRAPH 2010, LA Convention Center.  SIGGRAPH today, is a shadow of its former self.  It is, nevertheless, a very important show for companies displaying their products and services and for users and potential users to see what’s going on.  The amount of compute power, graphics, and storage running at this show is staggering, high-performance computing in action.

In this LA location, there is an abundance of hardware and software companies, server, storage, graphics, software and a host of studios that render movies all demonstrating their role in the latest blockbuster movie.  All very flashy and a true sensory experience and at times sensory overload, almost like the consumer electronics show in Vegas.

What does this have to do with George Bernad Shaw you may ask.  Simple.  Here I am having deep discussion about cloud computing and where it is being used and the person I am talking with is deep in discussion about cloud computing.  Ten minutes later, I realize he is talking about using computers to design and render clouds fast and better, and I am talking about using cloud computing to render clouds cheaper than ever in a pay for usage model.  After pressing the reset button the answer to my questions concerning the use of cloud computing, as a service, for studios to render their latest movie was met with skepticism for a couple of reasons:

According to the rendering studios using a public cloud to dump 100′s GBs of ingested raw movie data, video, audio, etc, would result in slow access to critical data in an environment that where every minute is focused on production and time to market is worth millions.  Secondly, the secrecy involved in this industry is probably second only to banking.  A security breach or quality loss could destroy a movie before it gets in the theater.  No one in this industry segment is rushing out to use Amazon EC2 or Microsoft Azure public clouds. 

Private clouds are different story.  Private cloud may solve the access time issue and would at the very least be inside the corporate firewall to manage the risk of data loss. 

It is only a question of when cloud computing makes economical sense with access speed and security adoption barriers being removed.  With today’s announcement by NVIDIA — NVIDIA announced that it had partnered with PEER 1 to provide the industry’s first large-scale hosted GPU cloud.  According to the announcement, the system will run the RealityServer 3D web application service platform to further enable animators, product designers, and others who rely on advanced 3D applications to propel their business or research forward without the need for an in-house CPU cluster

A sign of times to come, maybe…

See below for some photographic highlights from the show floor yesterday