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AMD plays fetch with Scooby

Advanced Micro Devices goes behind the scenes to help the canine sleuth and gets production credits for "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones."

AMD, where are you? Behind the scenes of "Scooby-Doo" and "Star Wars," too.

Following the trend of Hollywood retreating from the use of specialized computers, several companies involved in the production of these two movies used servers and workstations with Advanced Micro Devices' standard Athlon MP processors to speed preproduction and create visual effects.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker said Rhythm and Hues, a visual effects company involved with "Scooby-Doo," used nearly 70 computers fitted with Athlon MP chips to create effects for the movie. Rhythm and Hues used 42 dual-processor Athlon MP 1800+ servers to create a so-called rendering farm, which helps create the digital images of characters in movies. It also used 25 dual-processor Athlon MP workstations on the movie.

Technology companies have long been looking to branch out into Hollywood, with most successes so far going to specialized machines like those from SGI. But more recently, new software and higher-performance mainstream processors have combined to win over movie producers.

Standard processors such as the Athlon and software such as the Linux operating system are relatively inexpensive, helping to cut costs considerably compared with the more proprietary equipment and software used in the past to create visual effects.

Following the same trend, the DreamWorks studio used Hewlett-Packard computers running Intel chips and Linux software to create the recently released "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron." This system cost half as much and offered four times the computing power of specialized computers used to produce the studio's movie "Ants" in 1999 and 2000, Ed Leonard, Dreamworks' chief technology officer, said in an interview earlier this year.

Computers using the Athlon MP helped Scooby and his pals uncover villains; they also fought the dark side during the production of "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones."

JAK Films, which worked with Lucas Digital's Industrial Light and Magic on the film, used several Athlon MP-based workstations in its labs to create storyboards for the movie, AMD said. Industrial Light and Magic also used Athlon MP-based servers from RackSaver on the film.

AMD did not say if its own sequel to Athlon MP, the Opteron chip, will be used to create a "Scooby-Doo II" or subsequent Star Wars episodes.