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SGI Technology Accelerates Rendering and Effects Processing for Vanguard/Starz CG Feature Film

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- SIGGRAPH, PipelineFX Booth #337 -- To successfully create and complete Space Chimps, a computer generated (CG) animated feature film due to be released in theatres by Twentieth Century Fox in Summer 2008, Vanguard Animation has purchased high-performance server technology from SGI (Nasdaq: SGIC). SGI delivered a proven rendering solution that managed the complexity of handling multi-megabyte files throughout the process while delivering breakthrough performance.

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SIGGRAPH, PipelineFX Booth #337 — To successfully create and complete Space Chimps, a computer generated (CG) animated feature film due to be released in theatres by Twentieth Century Fox in Summer 2008, Vanguard Animation has purchased high-performance server technology from SGI (Nasdaq: SGIC). SGI delivered a proven rendering solution that managed the complexity of handling multi-megabyte files throughout the process while delivering breakthrough performance.

Space Chimps, an irreverent and comedic adventure starring three chimps that boldly go where no man has gone before, is the latest project from producer and Vanguard CEO John Williams (Shrek, Shrek 2). The film is being produced through a partnership between Vanguard Animation and Starz Media. It has been pre-sold to over twenty foreign territories through Odyssey Entertainment. The production of the 80-minute feature will require between 180 and 200 people in the 30,000-square-foot space on Production Way in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Aspiring to deliver the highest quality images, the Vanguard team found that it didn't have enough fire power from the older server farm to move and render the large, finely detailed, high-definition files generated by Renderman, a leading animation rendering software running under the Linux(R) OS. At Vanguard, the software renders animations created in Maya, a top-of- the-line animation program. For Space Chimps, Maya files are typically several megabytes in size and it is not uncommon to have hundreds of frames in a shot, starting with a 10MB Maya scene file and generating 100 or 200 multi-megabyte image files. To get the most value out of the Renderman licenses, Vanguard needed to have the most efficient hardware to render Maya files as rapidly as possible.

Along with PipelineFX personnel and data management specialist Seven Group, Vanguard tested a number of servers from various manufacturers running PipelineFX Qube! Render Management software. They found, in a head-to-head comparison, that the SGI(R) Workflow-Ready Solution for Render Management employing SGI(R) Altix(R) XE310 servers came out on top in terms of price- performance. Because of their use of Renderman and Maya, the fact that SGI Altix servers all run the Linux environment and use Intel(R) processors, was critical to the studio.

"The Altix XE310 servers deliver the ultimate performance density; they have given us a 20-30% improvement in speed," said Troy Brooks, on-site Pipeline supervisor at Vanguard. "That's largely due to the fact that the SGI server has 3GHz processors, the fastest available versus the 2.2GHz processors we were using. The two most important things to us are processing speed and I/O, because the data sets tend to be very large and the output images tend to be very large. With the Altix XE310, SGI has taken a dual socket, dual-core Xeon motherboard — that's 4 CPUs — and put two of them in a 1U box. That's actually better than a quad socket board because it means I have two network interface cards on two totally separate machines. Rather than having 8 or 16 cores behind one network interface card, I have two interfaces, and it's still in a 1U package. From my point of view, it's overall great: I get better throughput and the system is very size efficient."

The SGI Workflow-Ready Solution for Render Management has removed production bottlenecks and greatly accelerated rendering tasks. The SGI solution is designed to integrate with and enhance the performance of PipelineFX Qube! scheduling and render farm management software.

"The biggest expense in any CG production is the labor — the skilled and talented animators, lighting artists and modelers — and maximizing their time is key," said Floyd Christofferson, business development manager, Digital Content Management and Media at SGI. "The way you maximize their time is turning things around in the render farm as fast as possible. The more iterations they can do on a shot, the better it will be, and by having an efficient render farm running on the fastest, most efficient hardware possible, you get as close as you can to an optimal workflow."

"We are creating an amazing film while striving for excellence on a very aggressive schedule, and we are thrilled to have SGI as part of the backbone of our technical and render support," said Tom Jacomb, Space Chimps Associate Producer. "Qube! alone is amazing at empowering our artists. With the added speed from the SGI Altix we can constantly refine the characters, lighting, and effects we strive for and still meet the production schedule."

Co-Producer Curtis Augspurger added, "It's great to be returning to SGI, a tried and true company which has proven their ability to support productions for decades."

Vanguard Animation purchased 10 SGI Altix XE310 servers with 64GB RAM and four Quad-Core Intel(R) Xeon(R) processors running Red Hat Linux Fedora Core 5.

The Vanguard Animation project will be featured in the PipelineFX booth at Siggraph 2007, booth #337, in San Diego, Calif., August 7-9, 2007.

About Qube! and PipelineFX

Qube!(TM) is the leading enterprise-class render farm management system for film and game production. Qube! is highly customizable, extensively scalable, can be integrated into any production workflow, and is backed by 24 x 7 technical support. Qube! has custom pipelines for creative applications like Autodesk(R) 3ds Max(R), Autodesk Maya(R), NUKE(TM), SOFTIMAGE(R)|XSI(R), Shake(R), Adobe(R) After Effects(R) and many more. Qube! is database driven and operates in Linux(R), Windows(R) XP, 2000 and 2003, and Mac OS(R)X environments. PipelineFX, with headquarters in Honolulu, HI, and offices in San Francisco, CA and Vancouver, B.C. was founded in 2002. Qube! is used by world-class film and game studios and post houses including South Park Studios, Electronic Arts, Vanguard Animation, Rainmaker Visual Effects, Disney Interactive Studios, Starz Entertainment, Reel FX, and Attitude Studio. Qube! is used by schools around the world including the School of Visual Arts in N.Y., Carleton School of Architecture, Full Sail in Florida, the University of Advancing Technology, Pratt Institute, and the University of Hawaii-Academy for Creative Media. More information can be found on the Web at www.pipelinefx.com.

SGI – Innovation for Results(TM)

SGI (Nasdaq: SGIC) is a leader in high-performance computing. SGI delivers a complete range of high-performance server and storage solutions along with industry-leading professional services and support that enable its customers to overcome the challenges of complex data-intensive workflows and accelerate breakthrough discoveries, innovation and information transformation. SGI solutions help customers solve their computing challenges whether it's enhancing the quality of life through drug research, designing and manufacturing safer and more efficient cars and airplanes, studying global climate, providing technologies for homeland security and defense, or helping enterprises manage large data. With offices worldwide, the company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., and can be found on the Web at sgi.com.

(C)2007 SGI. All rights reserved. SGI, Altix, the SGI cube and the SGI logo are registered trademarks of SGI in the United States and/or other countries worldwide. Qube! is a trademark of PipelineFX, LLC. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in several countries. Intel and Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

This news release contains forward-looking statements regarding SGI technologies and third-party technologies that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in such statements. The reader is cautioned not to rely unduly on these forward-looking statements, which are not a guarantee of future or current performance. Such risks and uncertainties include long-term program commitments, the performance of third parties, the sustained performance of current and future products, financing risks, the ability to integrate and support a complex technology solution involving multiple providers and users, and other risks detailed from time to time in the company's most recent SEC reports, including its reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q.

Contact: Lisa Pistacchio PR Programs Team Manager SGI pistacchio@sgi.com tel: 650.933.5683 cell: 650.270.5683 PR Hotline: 650.933.7777 www.sgi.com/company_info/newsroom

SOURCE SGI

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