Alacritech Accelerates Visual Effects Studio

Alacritech announced that visual effects company Logan has deployed Alacritech’s ANX 1500 Network File System (NFS) acceleration appliance to deliver productivity increases and dramatic performance acceleration.

Increased Productivity, Lowered Cost

Logan has done creative design and production for movies such as The Avengers and Zonbie Land, and ads for Apple, Lexus, Sony and others. Faced with the issue of using only 10 of the company’s 45 render nodes due to performance problems, network consultant Brian Krusic looked for something that was reliable, scalable, and most importantly, cost effective. He coupled  the ANX 1500 with file servers running Linux (CentOS), and avoided purchasing excessive and expensive network-attached storage (NAS).  Using Alacritech’s ANX 1500 Logan also dropped render times from as long as two minutes and 38 seconds per frame down to just 38 seconds per frame. Additionally, the load on the filer was reduced because of the ANX’s ability to service client NFS requests.

“We were blown away by the performance gains we saw at the low price point,”said Krusic.  “Not only did the render times drop dramatically, but the fact that artists could access data while all 45 render nodes were rendering was fantastic.  It was a major turnaround and has really increased the productivity of our artists.”

“The Logan use case is particularly interesting in that Brian was able to apply the same level of creativity that his industry is known for to his storage infrastructure,” said Doug Rainbolt, Vice President of Marketing of Alacritech. “By using the ANX 1500 to maximize their existing NAS system performance, they were able to boost NFS reads and metadata operations into overdrive, giving cycles back to NAS so that it can do more. They did this at a much lower cost than what he would have spent in capital and power required of a more expensive NAS solution.”

Handling bulk data such as large files, and a lot of those large files, like rendering and computer graphics animation projects is a common use for Alacritech products. Other cases for NFS-intensive use include oil and gas exploration, life sciences and virtual desktop environments.  It’s TCP/IP offload engine (TOE) technology is used to increase NFS throughput, and the ANX 1500 is a caching system made up of DRAM, solid state disks, 10GbE TOE network cards, and software. The NFS acceleration appliance sits between the clients and NAS, using its many patented technologies to offload processes to silicon, thus having a large impact on utilization performance.

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About the Author

John Rath is a veteran IT professional and regular contributor at Data Center Knowledge. He has served many roles in the data center, including support, system administration, web development and facility management.

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