In a unique showcase of how Ethernet can drive modern day connectivity to the next level, Beijing, China based ‘Light Chaser Animation Studios’, a startup computer graphics animation company has deployed a new high-performance fabric-based network from Brocade to support its animation production business.
The new network links storage and computing resources at Light Chaser’s data center with artists’ workstations at Light Chaser’s main office in a seamless Ethernet fabric that delivers the wire-speed, low-latency performance required for 3D animation production.
Light Chaser was founded last year by Gary Wang, the founder and former CEO of the country’s most popular video-sharing Web site, Tudou.com. Its goal is to produce world-class animated movies and capitalize on the opportunities in China’s rapidly growing movie market, which expanded by 28 percent last year and is widely expected to overtake the US in market size by 2020.
“At the moment there’s a distinct lack of high-quality CG animation content being produced in China, so we’re aiming to fill that gap by creating world-class animated movies. Doing so requires world-class animation talent and world-class technology, which is where the new network from Brocade comes in,” said Ye Yuan, Head of Technology of Light Chaser Animation Studios.
“As a startup, we’ve been able to deploy the latest and most cutting-edge technology to support studio operations. This includes 900 terabytes of network-attached storage (NAS), a 400-server render farm and 200 animation workstations. Tying these all together to create an efficiently functioning whole that gives us maximum performance, however, required a seamless network that could handle our highly demanding workload, as each frame in a digital production file is now a few gigabytes.”
The Brocade® solution was a unified Ethernet fabric built around the Brocade VDX® family of Ethernet switches. These switches feature Brocade VCS® Fabric technology, which has enabled Light Chaser to create a seamless network at its data center and artists’ studio that is practically self-managing.
Within the data center, Brocade VDX 6710 Switches have been deployed as top-of-rack (TOR) switches to provide wire-speed Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) connectivity to the 400 multiprocessor, multicore servers that provide the computing power for Light Chaser’s video rendering. The switches feature hardware-based inter-switch trunking capabilities, enabling them to be linked over their 10 GbE ports in a cluster that acts as a single, highly resilient virtual device. This approach delivers port-to-port latency of just 600 nanoseconds, allowing rapid intercommunication between the render farm servers.
A Brocade VDX 6720 switch also forms part of Light Chaser’s data center switching cluster, providing 10 GbE pathways to the server switches and connecting the NAS array into the network over multiple 10 GbE links. It also supports dual 10 GbE links, over fiber-optic connections, to another Brocade VDX 6720 switch that is clustered with several Brocade VDX 6710 switches at the Light Chaser studio site. The latter provides wire-speed GbE connectivity to the animation artists’ workstations.
“The beauty of this design is that it creates a single Ethernet fabric that spans Light Chaser’s two sites, delivering high capacity and low-latency connectivity across its entire IT infrastructure,” said Sam Lo, regional director for China, Brocade. “It is also ridiculously easy to manage since, as a single virtual device, configuration information is shared between all the Brocade VDX switches in the fabric. It is very much a plug-and-play network. When Light Chaser needs more network capacity to support additional servers or workstations, it can simply add another switch into the fabric cluster.”