Home > Mac OS X > OS X Conference: Pixar talks OS X migration OS X Conference: Pixar talks OS X migration Eugenia Loli 2003-10-29 Mac OS X 41 Comments Despite the company’s deep connections to Apple, Pixar Animation Studios only completed moving its computer infrastructure to Mac OS X eight months ago. More on the O’Reilly Conference at MacSlash. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 41 Comments 2003-10-29 8:03 am I thought they were using Linux, but with Steve at the helm that wouldn’t last. Innnteresting. 2003-10-29 8:11 am Rumors persist of a Rendezvous enabled build of RenderMan, which would allow for point-and-click configuration of RenderMan clusters. Pixar announced MacOS X support for RenderMan late this July, following the release of the G5: https://renderman.pixar.com/products/news/power_mac_G5.html In reply to Christopher X, this was in the article: Pixar also had 500 computers running Linux that were slated to move to Mac OS X. Apple now has the technology to make Pixar a 100% OS X shop. And with Rendezvous support, why not? It will only simplify usage of their rendering cluster. 2003-10-29 8:14 am no, you are thinking about servers; they use, and still will be using, linux for their servers… the article refers to their desktop/workstation machines, which if you read the article, is a heterogenous environment of “375 desktop Macs running Mac OS 9 and around 100 PowerBooks also running Mac OS 9. Pixar also had 500 computers running Linux that were slated to move to Mac OS X. Finally, the company runs about 125 computers running Windows.” so, they are converting all 475 mac os 9 software to mac os x, which is probably a good idea with panther’s current standings Why wouldn’t you? Panther makes it easier to integrate with os 9, windows, & linux, so this is the perfect time for them to upgrade for such a heterogenous environment… Plus, as the article states, all of pixar’s needed software has finally been ported to os x. They aint ditching linux… just upgrading old tech… 2003-10-29 8:17 am They aint ditching linux… just upgrading old tech… I think this says otherwise: Pixar also had 500 computers running Linux that were slated to move to Mac OS X. Although the article is rather vague about whether or not this actually happened. 2003-10-29 9:08 am Just out of curiosity, how much performance will they lose with such a move? Last I knew, Linux was quite a bit faster than Mac OS X. Are they going to have to buy more/faster machines for this? 2003-10-29 9:52 am The performance difference between Linux and Mac OS X, IMHO, is most apparent in server situations – with something like rendering, which is purely CPU, I doubt there would be much difference at all. So, performace may stand to be improved if – with the move to OS X – they also widely deploy G5s. My first comment wasn’t a complaint about Pixar’s move away from Linux – hell, I expected it with Jobs at the helm, so much as a bit of a suprise considering they had only recently moved to Linux. Well, we shall see how this goes… 2003-10-29 10:28 am I’ve actually read in multiple places that Steve Jobs has very little to do w/ the happenings at Pixar, even though he’s obviously the CEO. Apparently, he kinda just lets the company’s founders run the show, only playing a consultative role himself. Not sure how true that is, but that’s just what I’ve read in books and interviews. What does this have to do w/ the story? Well, nothing really, sorry.. 😉 2003-10-29 11:12 am Steve wouldn’t endanger a working business just to score a few extra PR points for another company he also leads. Doubt the shareholders would approve. 2003-10-29 11:39 am “Pixar also had 500 computers running Linux that were slated to move to Mac OS X.” Aren’t they PCs with Linux ? How could they do it ? Migration from MacOS 9 to Mac OS X make sense for graphic workstation but for rendering clusters the solution Linux + PC is cheaper and efficient… I think that use Linux combined with MacOS X would be much smarter. 2003-10-29 11:42 am believe it or not, G5s w/ Mac OS X turned out to be cheaper and more efficient for Pixar than similarly equipped PCs w/ Linux. They aren’t idiots, and hence looked at all the cost/efficiency numbers before making any decisions. 2003-10-29 11:43 am “Steve wouldn’t endanger a working business just to score a few extra PR points for another company he also leads. Doubt the shareholders would approve.” However, he would be well placed to negotiate mutually beneficial deals, and put the right people in touch. Apple can offer Pixar a generous discount, and get good publicity in return. OS X in use for creating a popular film makes good headlines. 2003-10-29 11:59 am Many of you are getting some important thing wrong here: On the one side, there’s the workstations, where people actually sit in front of and let their creativity live. And on the other side, there’s the rendering farm which should pretty much run on its own. The rendering farm has been moved entirely (I believe) to x86-based Blade servers running Linux. A Blade server is a server containing *many* CPUs. 128, 256, maybe 512 – you name it. Not a machine you could afford working on, and not at all the kind of machine Apple is interested in selling. These machines are absolutely optimized for one single task. The workstations used to be Mac OS 9, Windows and Linux computers, about a thousand all in all, I believe. They plan to move *all* of these to Mac OS X. Why all? – Mac OS X is quite a nice OS to work with – unlike, say, Linux. – Unlike Mac OS 9 and Windows, it’s somewhat Unix-y. – They mostly work using their own software anyway, so the rest of the OS isn’t *that* important. – A consistent OS is much easier to administrate. “The performance difference between Linux and Mac OS X, IMHO, is most apparent in server situations – with something like rendering, which is purely CPU, I doubt there would be much difference at all. So, performace may stand to be improved if – with the move to OS X – they also widely deploy G5s.” Except they don’t plan to do anything like this. Rendering is done by a couple of ten thousand CPUs in total (I would guess). Mac OS X was never designed for this task. It is, however, quite nice for *workstations*. 2003-10-29 2:04 pm believe it or not, G5s w/ Mac OS X turned out to be cheaper and more efficient for Pixar than similarly equipped PCs w/ Linux. I won’t argue whether this is true or not, but I will point out that Pixar made no such claim. 2003-10-29 2:20 pm For the same hardware, Macs do end up cheaper than its PC counter parts. I’m talking about the same disk space, memmory, graphics, and top speeds, and the Mac comes out cheaper. I’m just happy the Big Mac is now pushing out ~9.5 TFlops now. =) That shows the power these Macs can have. Linux is only cheaper if you download it, and have a techy already know how to use it. Otherwise, it does end up expensive for the techy to learn the OS. Time = Money. 2003-10-29 2:41 pm For the same hardware, Macs do end up cheaper than its(sic) PC counter parts(sic). I’m talking about the same disk space, memmory(sic), graphics, and top speeds, and the Mac comes out cheaper. Back it up with proof, zealot-boy. Show me a Mac that can compare (on price and speed) with this: P4, 3.0GHz (800MHz FSB) 1GB DDR RAM Radeon 9800Pro Abit IC7-G motherboad 240GB RAID 0 storage (2 120GB SATA drives) I built that box, with the case, for $1800. Show me a Mac that you can get for $1800 that has anywhere near the same specs as that. I’m not bragging, I’m just calling you out on your baseless claims. Show the proof of your statements, please. I don’t believe that you can. PC parts are commodity items, made by a large number of manufacturers. The prices will always be less than those for a Macintosh just because the economies of scale. I don’t quite understand why you would personally be happy about the raw speed of a supercomputer that you will probably never have the chance to use. But, whatever. The synthetic measured speed of a room full of Macintoshes running on custom clustering software does not, in any way, show the “power these Macs can have” for the general case. All it shows is that with a hard core engineering effort and a lot of custom software that, yes, Macs can be used as an effective supercomputer at a certain price range. 2003-10-29 2:48 pm And I dont believe for an instant any large company would buy your 1800+ setup box from a small time company when their workstations are directly responsible for their income. 2003-10-29 2:57 pm first off, you are comparing the price of a DIY box to a commercial product. of course yours will be cheaper to make, you are not charging the labor costs and the extra money needed to make it profitable, Dell would not be able to beat you on that price. second off, if a company really needed 1000 computers, do you think they would buy all the individual parts, then pay a bunch of techs to put them together, test the machines to make sure they run well, and then install them? HELLLLLLLLL no, that would cost way to much money since Labor costs WAY more than parts. if you are into building your own machine, then yes, it will be cheaper feature for feature in comparison to any OEM, but your model does not scale and would end up costing millions more to deploy on large scale…hell even small scale, a small businessman would not pay 5 guys to put 50 computers together for him. DIY computers scale to 1 computer. that is the only place you can save money, and even then, you are only saving money if you are not sacrificing valuable time to build the machine in the first place. 2003-10-29 2:58 pm oh…BTW, a Mac uses all commodity parts as well (eccept fo the Motherboard, but then again…no OEM uses off the shelf mobos) 2003-10-29 3:22 pm “oh…BTW, a Mac uses all commodity parts as well (eccept fo the Motherboard, but then again…no OEM uses off the shelf mobos)” That’s utterly rediculous. Dell is just one example that uses off the shelf motherboards. Which ones you ask? Intel. Please, before you make a comment, at least check the facts. 2003-10-29 3:32 pm debman, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m tired of people talking about DIY boxes compared to retail boxes. Of course a DIY is cheaper; but when comparing a Dell to an Apple, you will see that the Apple is similarly price if not sometimes cheaper. I’m been building DIY boxes since college. My next machine will not be a DIY. It’s to much trouble these days. Looking for the parts, putting it together, support, driver upkeep, and dealing with Windows. Once the powerbook comes with the G5, I will be making the switch. 2003-10-29 3:42 pm “Back it up with proof, zealot-boy. Show me a Mac that can compare (on price and speed) with this: P4, 3.0GHz (800MHz FSB) 1GB DDR RAM Radeon 9800Pro Abit IC7-G motherboad 240GB RAID 0 storage (2 120GB SATA drives) I built that box, with the case, for $1800.” Show me an x86-based machine that *offers* this. Nothing “I am so l33t and built it yourself”. Pixar ain’t gonna buy 23,456 pieces of hardware and stick them together, hoping it’d work. They buy *systems*. From DELL. T-Systems. IBM. Apple. SUN. You name it: system builders, not cheapass hardware piece stores. And from such companies, I would guess the above configuration costs at least $2400. “I don’t believe that you can. PC parts are commodity items, made by a large number of manufacturers.” Right, and in that regard, the Mac is, and has always been, a PC: a personal computer. It has PCI slots (or now PCI-X), AGP, USB (now USB2), FireWire, a chipset (custom-designed by Apple), a motherboard (custom-designed by Apple), a CPU (PowerPC model from either IBM or Motorola), hard drives, optical drives, a keyboard, a mouse, a screen, and even an OS. 90% of a Mac’s hardware is just “commodity” hardware. 2003-10-29 3:42 pm no they don’t. I have cracked them open my self to replace bad parts, and Dell motherboards are not off the self. they might run an intel chipset, but the board is built to specs decided on by dell for dell machines, just like Apple boards are built to specs decided on by Apple. you cannot buy a motherboard off the shelf and replace the board n a Del machine. 2003-10-29 3:48 pm Is it possible to build a Mac from scratch? 2003-10-29 4:01 pm no. you could build a PPC machine from scratch and run Linux on it or AmigaOS4 or something, but you cannot build a Mac because OS X will only run on Apple motherboards, which you cannot buy. 2003-10-29 4:08 pm “Back it up with proof, zealot-boy. Show me a Mac that can compare (on price and speed) with this: … I built that box, with the case, for $1800.” Did you buy XP or Win2000? Or.. Linux? you should add that to the cost… and, yeah… how long did it take for you to assemble this? 1 hour? 5? let’s see… 4 hours of my labor could be worth at least US$200.00. Did everything go together seemlessly? Jb 2003-10-29 4:12 pm believe it or not, G5s w/ Mac OS X turned out to be cheaper and more efficient for Pixar than similarly equipped PCs w/ Linux. Well yeah, if your CEO can give himself volume discounts. For the same hardware, Macs do end up cheaper than its PC counter parts. I’m talking about the same disk space, memmory, graphics, and top speeds, and the Mac comes out cheaper. The surgeon general says that long-term exposure to a Reality Distortion Field can be hazardous to your health. 2003-10-29 4:14 pm grapegraphics, your comment is a wee bit confrontational, and rather than pointing out the entire process that goes into building a computer at an OEM, you leave it wide open for him to argue his point. 2003-10-29 4:16 pm well, rather than spouting conspiracy theories, why don’t you actually get some hard facts? Jobs does very little at Pixar any more, and considering the Pixar runs a mixed network, I would not think they are buying macs because Jobs is their CEO. 2003-10-29 4:46 pm Dear Anonymous It is not only Brando((IP: —.che.psu.edu) )who thinks that Mac are cheaper to use than even PC running Linux. So think many companies or Varsities replacing large amount of computers. see below for one example http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/09/27/1732259&mode=thre… You will always come up with a cheaper deal if you build your own bown using Tchnernobyl debris but I doubt you will receive the kind of support you can expect from IBM, Apple, Dell you name it. 2003-10-29 4:49 pm Well I thought id give an example: Brand:Ciero CPU:AMD-XP 2500+ RAM: 256MB HD: 80GB 7200RPM GPU: Radeon 7500 64MB(Bought seperatly) NetGear Ethernet Card)Bought seperatly) OS: OEM WINXP Home (Of course I replaced it w/ linux) Grand Total = $900 (CAN) or $535(USD) Comeon, you can buy an equally powerful Mac for that kind of money. 2003-10-29 4:51 pm “Comeon, you can buy an equally powerful Mac for that kind of money.” Whoops that should be “can’t” 2003-10-29 4:55 pm no one is claiming that you can not build a cheaper PC (and you did build it, buying a bare bones type system and then adding the parts you need is building). but you cannot scale the savings due to Labor costs. a corperation is not going to buy a partial solution, pay to have techs put the extra parts in, then deploy them and test them. that costs way to much money. 2003-10-29 5:22 pm Apples to oranges, brah. That cheapa$$ system isn’t what Pixar would use for workstations. Try comparing WORKSTATION class computers, and you’ll see what the earlier posts are talking about. 2003-10-29 6:09 pm Actually for heavy duty rendering you’d use rack mount systems which are not commidity items and cost considerably more (3X the price for a lower spec). PCs don’t have much (if any) price advantage over Xserves. Then there’s support costs ($loads) running costs and cooling costs. The cooling system alone for a large cluster will cost several times the price of the computer hardware. The fact thats Macs have lower power consumption / run cooler could be the deciding factor. So, the home brew PC Vs Mac price debate is not only completely irrelevant but largely turned on it’s head. 2003-10-29 6:41 pm Hey annonymous – who cares? …and that’s not directed as an insult. Just a matter of fact! Who CARES if you built your own “box” and for what price??? Your “spec’s” and price point are built around a “hardware only” argument. Mac user’s buy Mac’s because of the “whole widget” concept – which ultimately, albeit arguably ends of becoming a question of the “total cost of ownership”. Mac User’s aren’t impressed with the supposed cost savings of a custom built box, as that’s the very reason we purchase the “entire widget” solution. In fact, it makes more sense to us to build “our own box” and slap in our own copy of WindowsX, Redhat, or whatever – versus buying an alternative OS box such as Compaq, Gateway, Dell, etc… Where’s the value in that? You appear to start the argument well, but end it rather splintered and without any substance…’ Nuff Said! Concerning your comments reguarding the “mac supercomputer” – you just completely miss the point. This is not a vague issue of “hard core engineering and a lot of custom software that, yes, Macs can be used as an effective…. Yada, Yada, Yada!!! First point: show me a “supercomputer” that doesn’t use proprietary custom software? Second Point: show me a supercomputer “hosed together” from out of the box, off the shelf parts (hardcore engineering?) – and to boot at a 5mil price point??? This is not some sort of “home brew” mac effort to place a “mac supercomputer” in the leagues with the “intel hegemony”!!!! This is about building a “3rd place supercomputer” (may go onto take 2nd very soon) for substantially less than the nearest competition (Dell systems running on Itaniums for 9mil plus!). Hell man, it’s not even a mac argument… The fact that they used G5’s just helps illuminate what us mac folks already knew – they’re bad to the bone! Educate yourself before you come to argue at the mac table, buddy! Otherwise you just come across as another “idiot with a box he built” for the LAN party! 2003-10-29 7:16 pm The rendering farm has been moved entirely (I believe) to x86-based Blade servers running Linux. A Blade server is a server containing *many* CPUs. 128, 256, maybe 512 – you name it. Not a machine you could afford working on, and not at all the kind of machine Apple is interested in selling. These machines are absolutely optimized for one single task. This is actually a cluster of many, many smaller systems, each operating independently with a different instance of the operating system and each possessing 2-4 processors, at least on the Linux side. It’s likely these were (slated to be) replaced with XServe systems. For something as CPU bound as RenderMan, the performance difference between Linux and OS X will be negligable. So obviously, either their Linux systems were originally Macs to begin with (running Linux until the OS X port of RasterMan was completed) or they’ve recently purchased new hardware. Regardless, there’s no reason not to use OS X over Linux for a RenderMan cluster. Also, it’s unlikely any PC OEM could sell systems to Pixar for less than what Steve Jobs is willing sell them Macs for. 2003-10-29 8:47 pm I think a machine that was built for $1800 that only one person in the world can maintain is extremely expensive. Maintainance cost of Macs requires: .5 technician to maintain 80 Macs, versus 4 technicians to maintain 200 PCs. The PC boys are continually trying to get a handle on Windows Updates, and virus updates. The Mac boy grins. I can’t show you their paychecks, so you will have to take my work for it. 2003-10-29 9:08 pm Pixar is replacing their MacOS9 systems with MacOSX. Windows is not being phased out and Linux is a proven powerhouse in render farms so thats not going away either. White Box PCs These are great for home users and DIY types. For businesses and production environments they just suck. Dell has a white box program and it hasn’t really generated a profit for them. Their name brand Dell systems do better. So don’t compare Apple and white box PCs cause they are not the same. 2003-10-29 9:29 pm “Back it up with proof, zealot-boy. Show me a Mac that can compare (on price and speed) with this: P4, 3.0GHz (800MHz FSB) 1GB DDR RAM Radeon 9800Pro Abit IC7-G motherboad 240GB RAID 0 storage (2 120GB SATA drives) I built that box, with the case, for $1800.” Where is your OS? Where is your installed OS? Where is your license for your OS? Where is your SuperDrive? Where is your warranty and tech support? Where is your gig ethernet? Where is your bluetooth? Where is your FW800? Where is your FW400? Where is your bundled software? Where is your iApps? Where is your no BIOS hardware? where is your time? Is it worth anything? Where is your onboard 802.11g support? Where is your case that is as good or better than a G5 case like a CoolerMaster? Where is your auto switching power supply? Where? The point is, a G5 is a system solution. Your system is I don’t know what. I know it doesn’t run right out of the box cause you don’t even have an OS. If you supply 100 G5s to a business they will all function the same. Supply 100 of your DIY systems and you have 100 systems that may perform differently from each other. I don’t see the logic of DIY systems used for a business, especially for a company as rich as Pixar. 2003-10-29 11:24 pm “Well I thought id give an example: Brand:Ciero CPU:AMD-XP 2500+ RAM: 256MB HD: 80GB 7200RPM GPU: Radeon 7500 64MB(Bought seperatly) NetGear Ethernet Card)Bought seperatly) OS: OEM WINXP Home (Of course I replaced it w/ linux) Grand Total = $900 (CAN) or $535(USD) Comeon, you can buy an equally powerful Mac for that kind of money.” Ok, lets pick your PC apart. Who the hell is that brand name. Are they even around anymore. Good processor, but its no dual processor, with a gigabit bandwidth bus for both processors. Memory probably not up to standard with the macs. Hard drive doesn’t have the same capasity and not Serial ATA. Graphics card is not up to standard with the mac. NIC card is not Gigabit ethernet so not up to Mac Standard. OEM, you killed yourself there, go buy it for real. Things missing, SUPER DRIVE, and APPLICATIONS (very nice iApps and standard installed applications) Everyone, go to the apple website, and look at the price for the standard dual G5 Mac don’t configure, just see what its made of. Then go to Dell, or IBM, or some other Major PC vendor, and Make the same PC. PC will cost more. PCs only cost less, because the parts they are made out of are cheaper parts or don’t have equal hardware, and they don’t have the same amount of power or flexability to do so many things like the Mac. Sorry PC guys, building it yourself might be cheaper, but not practical. 2003-10-30 5:52 am Anonymous is a malcontent, a loner and very un-enlightened so comments to this individuals post should have been avoided. It is very obvious that this poster doesn’t hold a job in the IT industry or else they wouldn’t have spewed their cheap beer on us. Brothers and Sisters, you rose to the bait of this poster. You gave them the credence they lack elsewhere in their NON existence. THEY posted an intellectual insult to a MAC forum and you guys replied. It happens every time. If you like Jobs, Apple, Pixar and OSX don’t give slobs anything to get their rocks off with. Nothing. This poster would kill someone in a violent way, then read the news articles about THEMSELVES, not the victims. Hello smart people. In my world I would pick an Apple over a Sun, SGI, HP, IBM, Dell, Gateway and so on. A MAC is less expensive when compared evenly, easier to intuitively use, and has a built in ear for support right out of the box. I have had far fewer exceptions with Apple than with many of the other OEM’s workstations I just listed. Apple listens. The others are too high and mighty for me to feel like I’m really being supported cost effectively in any way. Call a Sun tech out and see how much that runs for just a PM. Call on an Apple tech and they are probably a dedicated home user of the equipment they service who wishes to share more tips with you than you paid for. You gain far more for equal dollars is what I’m trying to say. Unix rules period, always has for heavy, critical work. Now it’s incorperated into Apple’s OS with 64bit processors doing the pumping. Way cool guys, don’t knock Pixar for making a wise, wise choice. There really is no other option that makes good sense, at least not right now.