July 13, 2007
Purdue makes distributed rendering available at SIGGRAPH 2007 via TeraGridWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Academic animators and researchers doing scientific visualizations have a new resource that will allow them to render their 3-D animations in a fraction of the time it can take on a single computer.
Attendees of the 2007 ACM SIGGRAPH conference in San Diego on Aug. 4-9 can bring animation files with them and submit them for rendering at a Purdue University-sponsored "render farm."
The rendering service will use distributed computing and will be available to any university staff or faculty member who receives an account on the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid. The Purdue resource is called TeraDRE, which stands for TeraGrid Distributed Rendering Environment. During SIGGRAPH 2007, the TeraDRE will be available to attendees in the Guerilla Studio, without the need to request an allocation. Animations can be created and submitted for a variety of applications, including Maya 8.5, Blender, POVRAY and nVidia's Gelato.
Laura Arns, research scientist and associate director of Purdue's Envision Center for Data Perceptualization, said the TeraDRE was run as a pilot version at the July 2006 SIGGRAPH conference.
"We were able to take several animations that would have required 142 days of rendering time running on a single machine and complete them during the six days of the conference. This year we hope to have many more people bring files and try to maximize the rendering we perform during the week," she said.
The TeraDRE offers several different user interfaces so that users can choose from the interface most comfortable for them. Regular users of the Maya animation package can use a script created in Maya Embedded Language, or MEL. Submission can also be done via a simple Web page application.
"All the user sees is a small MEL script or Web page, and the TeraDRE handles all of the details of the job submission," Arns said.
The TeraDRE runs using Condor distributed computing allocation software to distribute the jobs to machines in Purdue's pool, which has more than 4,200 computers. Purdue has the largest academic Condor pool, which speeds the rendering.
Gary Bertoline, co-principal investigator of Purdue's TeraGrid Project, said that to use the TeraDRE other than at the conference, users must first request a TeraGrid allocation.
"To get that, they need to submit an abstract about their work," he said. "When they receive their allocation, they should request access to the Condor pool at Purdue to use for rendering."
TeraGrid allocations can be requested online at http://www.teragrid.org/userinfo/access/accounts.php
"Students can also use the TeraDRE if they work through a faculty member who has a TeraGrid allocation," Bertoline said. "A faculty member can get an account for a class to use, and then anyone in that class will have access."
Nathan Hartman, assistant professor of computer graphics technology, said the TeraDRE will benefit academic institutions around the globe.
"Given the amount of graphics programs used at universities now, such as high-end 3-D models and value-based scientific visualization, many more institutions around the world are getting involved in rendering," Hartman said. "This is a resource that allows these institutions to be able to do this work without allocating capital."
More information about TeraDRE is available online at http://www.purdue.teragrid.org/content/view/48/25/
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