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Titanic goes digital on film

Visual effects studio Digital Domain develops a "rendering network" of Carrera workstations running Windows NT for the movie Titanic.

Workstation maker Carrera Computers is helping to refloat the Titanic, if only on the big screen.

Visual effects studio Digital Domain has developed a "rendering network" of high-speed Alpha-processor-based computers running Windows NT for the rendering of scenes in the upcoming movie Titanic, based on the famous ship's demise.

Digital Domain now has 230 Carrera Alpha workstations in its studio, with 160 of them solely dedicated to rendering tasks. All of the modeling and rendering stations are connected by a high-speed network, and each runs two operating systems.

The systems as a whole produce a rendering network capable of a staggering 400 billion instructions per second for use in rendering the high-resolution frames of animation needed for feature films. This approaches supercomputer power.

The workstations are based on Digital Equipment's Alpha microprocessors. Alpha processors are some of the fastest in the world and run at speeds of up to 600 MHz. Digital Domain's Carrera systems communicate using 10/100-mbps network adapters. The rendering network is controlled from a single terminal for administration of the 160 nodes.

The movie, originally expected to come out this summer, is now scheduled for release later this year. Scenes being computer-generated for the film include the cruise liner's collision with an iceberg and its being torn into two pieces. The movie's budget is reported in the range of $100 million.