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."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.
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.