Sony Pictures Deploys CACHEfx

CACHEfx scalable caching appliances from Gear6 deployed at Sony Pictures Imageworks to accelerate image-rendering applications

August 7, 2007

2 Min Read
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Gear6, accelerating storage for real time application performance, today announced that Sony Pictures Imageworks is deploying its CACHEfx scalable caching appliances to dramatically accelerate image rendering for digital film production. Imageworks selected the Gear6 centralized caching solution because it delivers I/O response times under one half of a millisecond for applications running on thousands of processors. The Gear6 solution also easily fits into Imageworks’ existing environment, reducing the need for data replication while simplifying storage tiers. This enhances the flexibility and manageability of Imageworks’ storage infrastructure.

“The real time data access capabilities of the CACHEfx appliance ensure we can maintain optimal application performance as we scale our processing render farm,” says Nick Bali, systems research and development, Sony Pictures Imageworks. “In the past, we faced challenges keeping I/O performance in balance with our compute power. Gear6 has helped us address this performance gap.”

Sony Pictures Imageworks is an Academy Award®-winning, state-of-the-art digital production studio dedicated to the art of visual effects production and character animation. Recent feature films from the studio include the summer blockbusters Spider-Man™ 3 and Surf’s Up. The company has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Oscars® for its work on Spider-Man™ 2 and the CG animated short film The ChubbChubbs!, as well as nominations for Superman Returns, Monster House, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Spider-Man™, Hollow Man, Stuart Little and Starship Troopers.

Digital effects and animated film production require rapid processing of terabytes of data to create the highest quality visual effects. An efficient production process is critical in meeting the release deadline with the highest quality film, maximizing production and marketing investment. To meet its business goals, Imageworks needed a solution to support a strategic rendering application scaling across thousands of processors. Rendering applications involve millions of random I/O Operations per Second (IOPS) that can generate a heavy workload for traditional disk-based storage systems. As a result, the company evaluated ways to accelerate I/O access performance in order to scale efficiently.

Imageworks selected centralized storage caching from Gear6 to address IOPS and low latency needs. CACHEfx appliances attach to the network, centralize cache resources in a coherent pool of shared memory, and scale to terabyte levels. Because the appliance serves data to applications from memory with very high throughput and extremely low latency, performance improves significantly over stand alone disk-based solutions. By delivering caching as a shared network service, data can be accessed simultaneously by thousands of clients with no modifications to existing applications, storage systems, or management software.“The CACHEfx appliance was very simple to deploy and we quickly saw performance jump through the roof,” stated Bali. “Once the performance bottleneck was removed, we simplified our overall configuration by placing our data in a single storage tier. This eliminated the need for replicated data which provides significant cost, resource, and management savings.”


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