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Why We Need a $3000 GPU

Posted April 17, 2014 by Josh Jackson in Other

I can’t help but say that I’m really excited about the new Godzilla movie coming out next month. As a kid, I grew up on the old Godzilla films, had a decent number of action figures, and shared in the disappointment that was the 1998 remake. What I’m seeing now looks like a great homage to the old 1954 monster. This long lead-in would no doubt beg the question of what any of this has to with NVIDIA’s Titan Z. While $3000 sounds like a lot to average PC users, this card is a huge release for the movie industry.

Pixar may be a name you have already heard of, but just in case you haven’t, they really are the “undisputed king” of animation. The reason why they’ve turned out so many good movies is their attention to detail.

Ever since the movie Brave, Pixar has been using their own animation system called Presto. This system allows their animators to animate in real time. The included demo video above is worth a watch, and showcases some interesting details. While working on Sully from Monsters University, the animators from Pixar had to render 900,000 hairs in real time. Each hair has 4 points! That’s a total of 3.6 million points the system is running and all of these hairs run entirely on the GPU, not to mention all of the other objects going on in the scene. What was the secret weapon behind all this power? Why none other than NVIDIA’s Quadro K6000.

The K6000 is an impressive card. It has 12 GB of on-board memory and 2,688 CUDA cores. It also boasts 5.2 TFLOPS of single precision floating point performance. As impressive as all that sounds, the Titan Z has the same 12 GB of memory, but more than doubles the total CUDA count¬†at 5,760 cores and is supposed to have a theoretical 8 TFLOPS performance. That’s not the clincher though. A K6000 costs nearly $5,000! All at once the Titan Z doesn’t sound nearly as expensive as before. So while the Titan Z gave most hardware enthusiasts a heart attack with the specs and price tag, the film industry probably can’t wait to get their hands on them.


So while all of this translates to huge studio news, it’s also good news for us hardware enthusiasts that love to watch movies. The new Godzilla rendering fro the movie looks great to me. As hardware¬†improves, I’m sure he can improve too. Some of us may never reap the benefits of owning a Titan Z, but we certainly will reap the benefits of better animation and effects that the Titan Z will bring to the big screen.


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