Green Rendering

The production of realistic animations and effects sequences requires clusters of computers and mass storage known as "render farms". One approach to strike a balance between availability and energy consumption is to integrate power management tools into workflow. Here are two examples, along with one even more aggressive approach to green rendering.

"Like many design firms, [AEC company Perkins+Will Inc.] has a 'rendering farm' through which architects can tap into idle desktop cycles during off-hours to run compute- intensive design software. But P+W has taken the idea a step further than most companies. Previously, employees left their PCs on overnight, but now they turn them off. When designers want to do renderings — which turn design specs into images — they use Wake-on-LAN hardware and software in the PCs to power them up." (Vertatique's sustainable real estate development readers can click thru to Computerworld's case study to review more of P+W's green IT actions.)

Frantic Films Software advertises its "The Deadline(TM) Power Management system can significantly reduce energy consumption by automatically turning machines on and off based on the current render farm load. When coupled with a custom temperature switch, this feature can also protect your render farm investment by shutting down machines if the environment becomes too hot."

EMECSTUDIOS NV takes green rendering a step further with Render Farm Deadline, a "WATERCOOLED nature friendly professional 64-bit render farm". Among its advertised features are "an indoor system where the heat (from our nodes) gets transported by the water throughout our floors and releases the heat to get a comfortable environment.". The operation claims "We don't use ANY energy to cool down our cooling water."