Perhaps the biggest challenge for a workstation PC within the Media and Entertainment industry is trying to keep up with the ever-evolving technology trends. Many of these trends were on display at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in Las Vegas; and they are shaping the way professionals do their work. I want to highlight four specific technologies and the impact they are having on workflows.
Thunderbolt 2 I/O
At last year’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) event, Intel® announced Thunderbolt™ 2, the latest version of its Thunderbolt technology, with a bandwidth increase of up to 20Gb/s. At this year’s NAB show, Intel takes Thunderbolt 2 capability even further, with the addition of Thunderbolt™Networking, a new and exciting way to directly connect computers together with a standard Thunderbolt cable.
Thunderbolt supported workstation-class systems are emerging. Workstation vendors are now introducing Thunderbolt as a standard I/O config. Lenovo has started shipping its ThinkPad W540 with a Thunderbolt port. We can expect Lenovo desktop workstations with Thunderbolt in the near future.
Industry veteran, Gary Adcock, Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) for USA Networks’ new television series Sirens, goes further stating:
“Thunderbolt 2 has fundamentally changed both our Production and Post workflows, while allowing us to perform the most data intensive tasks currently required for 4K production, in an efficient, simple schema without sacrifice to the image or the crew. Thunderbolt 2 is the only technology available that can provide the bandwidth, functionality, and ease of use necessary for optimized 4K workflows.”
GPU-Accelerated Workflows for 4K Video and Animation
With the NVIDIA® Quadro® K6000 GPU, professionals can do their best work at high resolutions and high frame rates. The 12 GB on-board memory and NVIDIA’s Kepler GPU architecture deliver breakthrough power, letting users work at unprecedented scale, complexity, and richness. Among the capabilities provided are: interactive 4K animation workflows in Autodesk® Maya® or 3ds Max®, real-time 4K video editing through Adobe® Premiere Pros GPU-accelerated Mercury Playback Engine, and interactive final-frame production rendering in Chaos Group’s VRAY RT.
Several of these new technologies were shown at NAB, including: GPU-accelerated 4K workflows in Adobe Creative Cloud, powered by the NVIDIA Quadro K6000, Real-time GPU debayering for RED Camera media playback in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, NVIDIA’s Quadro K6000 powering real-time final-frame rendering via Chaos Group’s V-Ray, and 4K hi-res animation in Autodesk Maya, powered by the NVIDIA Quadro K6000.
Interactive Photo-Realistic Rendering with NVIDIA Iray VCA
NVIDIA recently unveiled its Iray® Visual Computing Appliance (VCA), which dramatically accelerates ray tracing, enabling visual-effects artists, animators, and modelers to design and render in real time with photorealistic digital models and scenes, speeding up the review and approval processes by letting artists work interactively with directors and supervisors. The turnkey appliance combines hardware and software to greatly accelerate NVIDIA’s Iray, a photorealistic rendering plugin integrated into such software solutions as Autodesk Maya. Iray VCA boasts eight of NVIDIA’s highest-end GPUs, with 12 GB of memory each and a total of 23,040 CUDA cores.
Virtualized GPU-Accelerated Applications for Media Enterprises with NVIDIA GRID
Virtualized and cloud-based workflows continue to become more accessible for media and entertainment professionals. Industry leaders such as Amazon Web Services, Citrix, and VMware have all recently announced new VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) and on-demand cloud platforms powered by NVIDIA GRID technology. These new offerings transform broadcast and postproduction workflows by delivering graphics-intensive 3D applications in virtualized environments. NVIDIA GRID is now available on Lenovo ThinkStation workstations.
NAB reminded us about the increasing bandwidth demands of Media and Entertainment professionals. Technology has answered back with I/O, grid and Iray to keep the powerhouse workstations churning out models and renderings at breakneck speed.