One Data Center To Rule Them All

You may not immediately recognize the name Weta Digital. But you almost certainly know its work. Weta is the New Zealand special effects shop that created the computer artistry for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the 2005 version of “King Kong.” The company was co-founded by Peter Jackson, the Academy Award-winning director of the LOTR series.

That kind of digital imagery requires a lot of computing power. Weta recently announced the completion of a new “extreme density” data center featuring HP’s new 2-in-1 server blades, which combines two server in a single energy-efficient blade. Weta is running four computing clusters, each equipped with 156 of HP’s Proliant BL2x220c server blades, which hold spots 219 through 222 on the current Top 500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

“The increased density of the blades allows us to add a significantly higher number of processors into a confined physical footprint while still managing within tight power consumption and cooling requirements,” Adam Shand, the acting CTO of Weta Digital, told VFX World.

That kind of density creates a cooling challenge. “One of our most important decisions was to invest in water-cooled racks from Rittal, which allows us to precisely control the amount of cooling that a specific rack requires,” said Shand. “The tangible benefit is that we can manage our energy costs at a very granular level. Instead of the traditional and less responsive method of eliminating hot spots around cooling, these racks self-regulate the amount of cooling they require in real time, adjusting the waterflow and fan speeds as required.”

Shand says the New Zealand climate allows Weta Digital to use free cooling for a large portion of the year.

HP has posted a video on its web site in which Richard Taylor of Weta Digital discusses how the company uses HP’s blade servers in its work.

Other stories on the topic that may be of interest:

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Joe Ardent

    Richard Taylor is not "of Weta Digital"; he's "of Weta Workshop"; they are two separate entities. Workshop makes models and other physical things; Digi does the CG effects. The two companies are jointly owned by Taylor, Peter Jackson, and recently added, Joe Letteri.

  2. Peter

    Pics or it didn't happen.

  3. matt

    Does anyone know the network connection which was used? I presume it was 1000BASE-T, but interested to understand if it could have been 10GbE or other.