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By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-07-07 Print this article Print

The rapid advances in commodity hardware also means that DreamWorks now replaces all its hardware on the workstation and server side every 18 months rather than every 5 years as used to be the case. While DreamWorks is using HP x4000 workstations running Linux to create "Shrek 2," it is also adding the newer xw8000s for the "SharkSlayer" movie. "Every six months we adopt a new platform and you can see three generations of hardware here at any time. Moving to commodity hardware and Linux means we now pay just 20 percent of the infrastructure costs we used to, which helps," he said.
DreamWorks current platform was also both a mission-critical and enterprise tool. "The scale of what we are doing here is quite significant. We have nearly 1,000 HP workstations across two sites as well as another 3,000 processors in render farms.
"If we can get it to work well at a creatively and technologically demanding environment like here at DreamWorks, it should have a far broader general appeal. Ive been in a lot of environments and this seems pretty mission critical to me," Leonard said. HP will also be hosting its first Studio Advisory Council over the next month where it would talk to CTOs from studios around the world on what their rendering needs were and what the next issue was that HP needed to solve for them, Balma said. Leonard agreed that the movie industry was changing and a lot of the technology was moving out of the intellectual property space and becoming more technology plumbing for movies. Technologies that all the studios used like rendering and compositing were no longer competitive and, while some parts of the business, like its tools and staff talent, remained its competitive advantage, the core operating system was not part of that. "Wed rather share and learn focus our effort on what really matters and in the end if we do that more as an industry, well all benefit. So we give technologies like that to the open source community, like all the technologies we co-developed with HP found its way back into open source," he said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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