When you plan to develop a world class animation facility capable of delivering big-screen films to compete with the current crop of high-end animation businesses, you better be prepared with a strong technical infrastructure. With the aid of Brocade, China’s Light Chaser Animation Studios is doing just that. Founded in 2013, Light Chaser is the dream of Gary Wang, who developed China’s most popular video-sharing website, to be the top producer of animated feature films in a country whose appetite for them grew by 28 percent last year.
Like many animation facilities, Light Chaser faced the need to deploy storage, servers, and workstations in a network that allowed high-performance connectivity while not necessarily being in the same location. In this case they were setting up a 400 server rendering farm, 900 terabytes of network attached storage, and 200 animation workstations, with the workstations residing in a separate facility from the rendering farm. According to Ye Yuan, head of technology for Light Chaser Animation Studios, they needed a seamless networking solution that could handle an environment where a single frame of digital animation could a file a few gigabytes in size.
To address their networking needs, they went with a unified Ethernet fabric solution from Brocade, using their VCS Fabric technology in the VDX 67X0 series family of switches. The 400 servers in the rendering farm are connected with top-of-the-rack VDX 6710 switches. With hardware-based inter-switch trunking capabilities, the switches are connected via 10 GbE to allow them to present as a single virtual device. This makes management much simpler and allows for the rendering farm to grow with the addition of new equipment without changing its appearance to other network attached devices.
Connections to the NAS array are also via multiple 10 GbE links thru fiber using a VDX 6720 switch which sits between the datacenter rendering farm, the NAS network, and another 6710 switch which provides wire-speed connectivity to the 200 animation workstations. Port-to-port latency is in the 600 nanosecond range between the rendering farm servers and overall performance appears to be wire speed to the animators at their workstations.
From a management perspective, the switching fabric extends through all of the switches and allows applications to treat the render farm, storage, etc., as single, virtual devices rather than as a collection of hardware. Management is simplified and as Sam Lo, regional director for China, Brocade said, it is very much a plug-and-play network design.