Prana Studios leverages Intel® Xeon® Processor 5500 Series to get better 3D animation rendering

Introduction: Prana Studios is a leading Animation house based out of Mumbai and Los Angeles. Prana's core business is focused on four main areas: Long-form CG content, location based entertainment, game cinematics, and feature film effects. They began collaborating with Intel to resolve a technical challenge they were facing while working on an ongoing animation movie co-produced with a leading Bollywood Studio.

The Challenge: The technical challenge was to resolve the renderer performance of displacements and 3D motion blur in the Improving SitexGraphics* Air* product .
The Solution: To meet this challenge, the Prana* team explored Air* multi-core software optimizations and also evaluated the latest hardware platform powered by the Intel® Xeon® processors 5500 series with its Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology (Intel® HT Technology).

The Impact: The performance of Air* renderer was significantly higher on the Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series-based machine as compared to the earlier generation of the hardware with the Intel® Xeon® processor 5355 series-based platform. The Air* renderer showed phenomenal performance improvement on the Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series with average gains of 1.8X with Intel® HT Technology ON and 1.45X with Intel® HT Technology OFF as compared to the older generation Intel® Xeon® processor 5355 series-based platform.

Application Optimizations in Air* Software: During evaluation of the Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series-based platform, the Prana* team found some scalability issues with the Air* renderer when moving from 8-thread to 16-threadexecution. This feedback was given to the SitexGraphics* what? Group?, who investigated the threading issues in the Air* renderer and released a fix that enabled 16-thread execution on the Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series-based  platform (with the Intel® HT Technology feature ON).

Deploying the Intel® Xeon® Processor 55xx Series-based Platform: Performance of Air* renderer was evaluated using workloads that constituted foliage, fur and texture scenes. Performance measurements on the Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series-based platform were done with both Intel® HT Technology ON and OFF. It was found that the Intel® Xeon® processor 5355 series-based platform took 199, 871, and 728 seconds? while the Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series-based platform took 137, 616, and 527 seconds with Intel® HT Technology OFF (8-thread execution) and 93, 495, and 419 seconds respectively, with Intel® HT Technology ON (16-thread execution) for rendering the 3 workloads. Therefore, optimum rendering performance was achieved on the Intel® Xeon® processor5500 series-based platform with the Intel® HT Technology ON (Ref Fig. 1).

The average performance gains on the Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series-based platform with Intel® HT Technology OFF and ON were 1.45X and 1.8X respectively, when compared to the Intel® Xeon® processor 5355 series-based platform.

Fig. 1: Lower is better
Prana_fig+1.jpg

"Good things" about Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series: Intel® Xeon® processor-based servers provide reliable, efficient, and proven performance, designed from ground up to meet data-demanding enterprise requirements. The Intel® Xeon® processors are the ideal choice for business-critical computing.


Configuration of the machines tested:

Intel® Xeon® processor 5355 series-based Platform
•  Hardware: Dual Processors Intel® Xeon® CPU 5355 Series @ 2.66GHz with 8GB FBD2 800MHz RAM
•  OS: Windows* XP* Professional x64 Edition v5.2.3790 Service Pack 2 Build 3790
•  Software Stack: Maya*2008 Ext2 (32-bit), MayaMan* 2.0.15 (32-bit), SitexGraphics* Air* 8.09 (32-bit)

Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series-based Platform
•  Hardware: Dual Processors Intel® Xeon® CPU 5560 Series @ 2.8GHz with 8 GB DDR3 1066MHz RAM
•  OS: Windows XP Professional x64 Edition v5.2.3790 Service Pack 2 Build 3790
•  Software Stack: Maya*2008 Ext2 (32-bit), MayaMan* 2.0.15 (32-bit), SitexGraphics* Air* 8.09 (32-bit)

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