Avatar film rendered with enormous Ubuntu server farm

It turns out that Avatar, the hugely successful science fiction epic film from James Cameron, was rendered using a huge Ubuntu rendering server farm, at Weta Digital.

Avatar Movie Ubuntu

The Weta Digital server farm or ‘rendering wall’, as they call it, has a disk array capable of storing roughly 2 petabytes of data in total. The individual servers are linked by a 10 gigabits per second networking infrastructure, and in total there are 35,000 cores based in over 4000 Hewlett Packard Blade servers. In the case of Avatar, each minute of rendering equates to approximately 17.28GB of data.

The system is entirely water-cooled, as traditional air and fan cooling systems are not sufficient during near deadline times, due to constant high load on the servers.The photograph below shows the enormous water cooling system cooling a portion of the server farm.

Weta Digital Water Cooled Servers
The high power server farm used to render many films computer generated imagery (including Avatar), shown with its advanced water cooling system.

According to Paul Gunn, a systems admistrator at Weta Digital, Ubuntu is at the core of almost all their systems. Ubuntu runs on all of their 3D rendering servers, and at least 90% of all their desktop systems. More detailed information about the Ubuntu powered rendering farm that rendered the CGI of Avatar is available from the Information Management and IT World websites.

2 Replies to “Avatar film rendered with enormous Ubuntu server farm”

  1. WOW massive render farm eh, how long it took for
    their servers to render all the 3d scenes that
    made up the whole movie? Did they set it up on
    batch rendering? I mean, Pixar’s rack mounted
    server render farm the size of a typical 24
    person long tabled meeting room rendered the Toy
    Story 3 movie in less than 2 hours though the
    textures and the animation settings they set in
    each characters and scenes are not so realistic
    as those in Avatar’s characters and environment.
    My guess is, the producers of Avatar have spent
    around 5 to 10 million dollars for the rendering

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