June 19, 2007
The largest commercial Linux installation
Almost all movie studios primarily use Linux for animation and visual effects, but with more than 1000 Linux desktops and 3000 Server CPU’s Dreamworks Animation is the largest commercial Linux installation. We all know Moore’s law which states that computing power will double every two and a half years, here is a little known corollary from the animation world ‘cartoon animation CPU render hours will double every three years’. In 2001, the original Shrek movie used about 5 million CPU render hours. In 2004, Shrek 2 used more than 10 million CPU render hours. And in 2007, Shrek 3 used 20 million CPU render hours. Dreamworks uses the popular Linux package Maya for animation. Solid support for threading, NFS and LAMP toolsets are a few of the advantages with Linux. At the desktop, Dreamworks uses HP xw9300 workstations running RHEL 4 and the renderfarm uses HP DL145 G2 servers, with 2GB per core the servers have 8GB of RAM as they have 4 cores.
DreamWorks uses its own TIFF-like file format based on 16-bit binary fixed point, a limited High Dynamic Range (HDR) image format with a color range of 0 to 2.0. Letting images go whiter than white leaves headroom for image adjustments.