Monthly Archives: September 2008

Progeniq accelerates animation rendering

There is a press release from Progeniq on the wires today, announcing their new RenderBoost product for higher performance CGI and image effects rendering.

Progeniq is a Singapore-based company focused on FPGA-based reconfigurable computing applications. They previously announced a product called BioBoost oriented toward bioinformatics acceleration. By following BioBoost with a product in a very different target industry, Progeniq appears to be establishing themselves as application-independent reconfigurable computing experts.

But why image rendering? Aren’t there some heavy players in that already, most notably Mental Images and Pixar?

There’s no question that image rendering in the entertainment industry is a big deal. Applications such as Pixar’s Renderman/PRMan are typically run on clusters and perform such things as solid modeling, ray tracing, shading, texturing, hidden object removal and many other tasks. These tasks can be parallelized and scaled up on multiple processors, but nonetheless the rendering of a single frame of a movie such as Rattatouie or The Incredibles can require vast amounts of CPU time. In fact it has been reported that Rattatouie required over 1500 CPU-years to render.

Obviously, anything that can speed image rendering is of great interest to the business. Not just the movie business, but also the advertising industry as well as animated solid models for engineering, science, and medical applications. But what might make this particular industry most attractive to a company like Progeniq is the existence of standards (de facto and real) and the opportunity to hook into existing tools via APIs and animation workflow tools.

There’s an important lesson here, I think. Any dramatically new technology, even one based on commodity devices such as FPGAs, is much easier to promote if it ties into existing and well-understood tools and workflows. If it can be as simple as plugging in an extra box or a PCI Express card and adding a few simple API calls to an existing application… well that seems like a darned easy sale to make. Good luck to Progeniq!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under News Shmews