Post Magazine

November 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 45 of 51

EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES 44 POST NOVEMBER 2015 NEW OPPORTUNITES OFFERED BY VIRTUAL, GPU-ACCELERATED DESKTOPS t Nvidia, we work with many studios who are actively trying to figure out the best way to separate their artists from the physical workstations required to do their work. The benefits of remote workstations are pretty well understood at this point. For artists, they can work on essential- ly any computing device and get the same experience as having a powerful workstation at their feet. And they can work pretty much anywhere as long as they have a network connection. Imagine being able to run the Linux version of Maya with the performance of a high- end Nvidia Quadro GPU on your iPad while in Vancouver but the data and your workstation is in San Francisco and you'll get the idea. For the IT department, the advan- tages are that it is considerably simpler to manage racks in a single data center than spread out across facilities, and security is greatly enhanced because the data never actually leaves the data center — it's only a stream of pixels that is delivered to the remote artist. So if someone leaves his or her laptop at a train station, you don't need to wor- ry that the studio IP is now out in the wild. And it's easy to set up freelancers because they all get a single approved desktop with all the right apps and plug- ins, even if they bring their own device. TRADE-OFFS AND CONSIDERATIONS Pretty much an ideal scenario for many studios, but there are some trade-offs and considerations, so let's drill down on how this all works. Essentially, every desktop content creation application, such as the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, 3D tools such as Autodesk Maya and 3DS Max, and all the video editing, compositing and color correction tools are accelerated today by GPUs. That means they require a GPU to work at optimal performance or, in many cases, to work at all. So if you want your artists to be able to work remotely, you have to make sure you have either rackmount workstations or servers that have GPUs in them in your data center. Major systems vendors like HP, Dell and Lenovo offer a variety of choices, as do a number of other vendors. The next step is to get the remote desk- top to the artist. You could potentially run the video, keyboard and mouse connec- tions to each individual artist or, more like- ly, use software and hardware designed specifically to support remote workers to get their desktop to them via a network connection. The latter approach works by taking the output of the GPU, compress- ing it, and sending it through the network as a video stream to the artist station where it is decompressed for display on the monitor. From the perspective of the user, this appears to be their local desk- top. This can be a very effective solution, with a good user experience in terms of the responsiveness of the keyboard and mouse, and the fidelity of the monitor. Depending on the approach you take and the vendor you choose, it can also have the advantage of working with essentially any client device. VIRTUALIZING THE GPU In addition to remote delivery of the desktop, with the adoption of Nvidia GRID vGPU technology, companies like Citrix and VMware now offer the ability to virtualize the GPU. That means that there is no longer a 1:1 relationship be- tween users and GPUs. Artists working with applications that need as much performance as they can possibly get can be allocated a full high-end GPU with a large amount of memory, while users with more modest requirements can share a GPU with other users — as many as 16 users on a single GPU when using the latest Nvidia GRID technology. That means you can balance your resources in a much more cost-effective way than allocating too much or too little comput- ing power to individual users. But not every application is well-suit- ed to being virtualized and remoted. Finishing and color correction apps that use multiple GPUs and require the high- est possible levels of color accuracy are still best suited to desktop workstations, and applications like Final Cut that are only available on Mac OS are not current- ly able to be virtualized, at least using any conventional means. But for studios that have teams spread out in different locations who need to collaborate on projects in a Windows- or Linux-based workflow, or who want to take advantage of a workforce that is in a different location than the data, virtual GPU-accelerated desktops can potentially be a great answer. BY GREG ESTES VP MARKETING NVIDIA SANTA CLARA, CA WWW.NVIDIA.COM HOW GPU TECHNOLOGY IS ENABLING REMOTE WORKFLOWS & RESOURCE SHARING A The latest Nvidia GRID technology allows up to 16 users to share a single GPU.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - November 2015