The Force is Now With HP

Fresh off a strong quarter
server and storage sales, HP has secured a technology
contract to prop up visual effects works for Lucasfilm.

Specific financial terms of the deal were not made public, though HP said
the deal with the producer of the “Star Wars” films, is a multi-million-dollar contract spanning three years.

HP’s Workstations Marketing Director, Jeff Wood, said the pact calls for
the Palo Alto, Calif., company to provide between 1,000 and 1,500
high-performance workstations and storage to the high-profile film

Wood said Lucasfilm will use its new AMD Opteron-based xw9300
workstations, primarily for game development and special effects content creation for major films.

The executive said that, for production studios, Opteron architecture is
actually superior to Intel because the embedded memory controller in the AMD
chip reduces the latency of high-performance applications.

Lucasfilm previously used Opteron technology on machines from so-called
“white-box,” or non-brand-name vendors. Wood said the company switched to
the xw9300 because it’s fast and supports up to 16 gigabytes of main memory
and dual PCI Express graphics cards.

This allows users to put two high-end graphics cards in one workstation,
which is crucial for composite work and game development.

To back up the work, HP will also provide Lucasfilm
its high-end StorageWorks xp12000 disk array, which boasts 35 terabytes of storage capacity.

Contracts between major IT vendors and film companies are nothing new. The proliferation of digital animation in children’s films like “Shrek” and
even arty films geared for adults such as “Sin City,” creates new revenue
opportunities for vendors of heavy duty systems.

To date, HP has enjoyed success with Hollywood animation
studios DreamWorks and Pixar with
its servers and workstations.

But Woods said the deal with Lucasfilm is special because it is the first
time the companies have worked together. “They are our first
major studio customer for visual effects and game development.”

Wood confirmed the HP/Lucasfilm deal Lucasfilm will use the HP machines at
its Presidio campus in San Francisco and its Singapore campus, which they
will be building later this year.

HP has sparked quite a turnaround in its server and storage sales under the
leadership of new CEO Mark Hurd. This time last year, the company announced that third-quarter server sales dipped 8 percent while storage revenues plummeted 15 percent.

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