Workstations are the tool of choice at SIGGRAPH

Workstations are the tool of choice at SIGGRAPH

Siggraph, July 2016 – The annual SIGGRAPH event is the meeting place for the academics, innovators, industry and professional media producers to meet and share their experiences.  The commonality is the blending of the technology and engineering with the artistic vision that drive cinema, TV and advertising.  To help realize these visions on a release schedule, the computers used had to change and became workstations.

Dell’s Precision Workstations had a lot of visibility at the SIGGRAPH 2016 show even though Dell did not have a booth on the show floor and the company did not introduce any new products. We living on providing solutions – said Molly Connolly, WW Industry Strategist, Media & Entertainment – We are looking for symbiotic microcosms. She confirmed that the company understands the balance with software professional community and also their customers. Her focus is on how we can engage with the community and listen what their needs are to make their workstations even better.

Dell’s workstation is a solution for the SIGGRAPH community.

The facts are that you don’t need the workstation if you are just running office and email but everyone who is creating visual and digital content, and those who are using the professional applications for creating the digital content;  those professionals need system commonality, multi-processors with multiple cores, ECC memory, professional graphics compute capability, fast storage, fast IO & networking. All that workstation provides.

Workstation are for time critical applications and they are designed not to fail and require the user re-crate the content. If you running a 3 day rendering task, and you know that your film has to be in theaters in 8 weeks, the workstation is the solution for you. The same for broadcasting space. Broadcast cannot let the screen go dark or have the content interrupted.

Dell’s workstations for M&E Tech space enables the magic to happen – said Molly. Dell’s workstation has been used by the last five winner of Academy Awards for Visual Effects. Molly went on to state that – “We’ve been very fortunate. Dell precision workstation has been recognized as leader in performance.”  This recognition has been for both the desktop and portable workstations.

This capability is what is driving Dell as one of the dominant platforms for the creation of VR content.  The workstations are designed to support all the pieces needed for this new stereoscopic and 360 degree content marketplace, and are being quickly adopted as the computer of choice for the VR creators.

Looking at the process. Artists create the content – mostly at the workstation, they manage the content – typically on server, then they deliver the content and you enjoy it (or consume it).  The workstations, with their fault tolerant design, construction for long hours of continuous operation and capacity for high performance computing allow this process to happen on a predictable schedule, freeing the artists to create their vision, rather than worry about the computing.

Consumerization of Flash Memory (2)

Consumerization of Flash Memory (2)

Flash Memory Summit, August 2016 – The process of consumerization of flash memory started around 2004. This year NAND prices drop below DRAM prices for the first time at the same density. Panasonic and Sanyo launched the first flash-based camcorders. SanDisk inaugurated Flash Sansa MP3 players. In 2005 NAND revenue exceeded $10 billion when Apple introduced its first iProducts.

Below is the timeline of consumerization of flash memory.

2005 – Apple introduced its first two flash-based iPods, the iPod shuffle and the iPod nano. Microsoft launched Hybrid Hard Disk Drive concept. MMCmicro card was introduced by MMCA. 70nm process was initiated. Micron introduced NAND product. Over 3 billion flash chips were shipped. NAND GB shipments overtook those of DRAM.

2006 – Flash revenue exceed $20 billion. Intel introduced Robson Cache Memory, now known as Turbo Memory. Microsoft launched ReadyBoost. M-Systems announced 4-bit MLC technology. That was an important year for SanDisk. The company announced 4-bit NAND technology and the microSDHC card. SanDisk acquired two enterprises: Martix Semiconductor and M-Systems. Samsung and Seagate demonstrated first Hybrid Hard Disk Drives. IMFT was formed by Intel and Micron to manufacture NAND flash. Spansion introduced ORNAND flash. 56nm process was announced. 300 mm wafers started to be produced.

2007 – Flash revenue exceeded $22 billion (NAND $14.5B) Toshiba introduced eMMC NAND and first MLC SATA-based SSD. IMFT started shipping 50nm NAND flash. Apple launched the iPhone with 4GB or 8GB of flash. Fusion-io announced 640 GB ioDrive MLC NAND-based PCIe X4 board. BitMicro launched 3.5”SSD with capacity of 1.6TB for military applications. Spansion acquired Saifun. Several laptop MLC SSDs were introduced with up to 128 GB of flash. Dell launched SSD option for laptop models. Sub-$200 netbook computers were introduced with flash memory storage. Microsoft initiated flash-based Zune Player. Seagate launched the Hybrid Storage Alliance and the first hybrid HDD, the Momentus PSD.

2008 – SanDisk introduced ABL to enable high speed MLC, TLC and X4 NAND. 34nm process announced by Intel and Micron. Toshiba initiated first 512GB MLC SATA-based SSD. Intel and STMicro spanned off Numonyx. IBM demonstrated first “Million IOPS” flash array. EMC announced use of flash-based SSDs for enterprise SAN applications. Apple introduced two generations of MacBook Air, with 64GB and 128GB SSDs and no HDD option. Micron, Samsung and Sun Microsystems announced high-endurance flash memory. Violin introduced first fully flash-based storage appliance. Samsung announced 150GB 2.5”MLC SSD with SATA II Interface. Several companies demonstrated MLC flash SSDs with up to 256GB for notebook apps. Micron introduced first serial NAND flash. Toshiba developed 3D NAND structure, BICS. Apple sold 1M iPhone 3Gs in 3 days, with 8GB or 16GB of flash.

2009 – Intel, Micron introduced 34nm TLC NAND. Samsung introduced the first full HD camcorder with a 64GB SSD. Seagate entered SSD market. SandForce introduced first compression-based SSD controller. Virident and Schooner launched first flash-based application appliances for the data center. Pillar Data converted Axiom SANs to SSD. Plaint introduced first SAS SSD. SanDisk shipped 4-bit/cell SDHC and Memory Stick Pro cards. Western Digital acquired SiliconSystems and got into SSD business. NVELO introduced first PC flash caching software “Dataplex’. SanDisk introduced 100-year flash storage vault. The revenue reached 19 billion.

2010 – Toshiba introduced 128GB SDcard based on sixteen-chip stack. Intel, Micron introduced 25nm TLC and MLC NAND. Numonyx was acquired Micron, SST by Microchip. Samsung started producing 64 Gb, 3-bit NAND and introduced high-speed 512 GB SSD utilizing toggle-mode DDR NAND memory. Seagate announced first self-managed hybrid HDD, the Momentus XT with 4GB of NAND flash and 500GB HDD storage. The revenue reached $26 billion.

2011 – Year of many acquisitions: LSI acquired SandForce; SanDisk acquired IMFT, Apple acquired Anobit, Fusion-io acquired IO Turbine. Intel announced Smart Response SSD caching for PCs. Seagate introduced II generation Momentus XT hybrid HDD with 8GB of NAND flash and 750GB HDD storage. Richard Pashley, Stefan Lai, Bruce McCormick and Niles Kynett from Intel received FMS Lifetime Achievement Award.

2012 – Ultrabooks begin to ship with Smart Response SSD cache. SanDisk and Toshiba announced 19nm flash memory enabling 128Gb chips. Macronix and Winbond entered NAND flash business. Seagate introduced SSHD combining flash memory with a HDD. Elpida introduced ReRAM. Micron and Intel launched 20nm 128Gb NAND chip using hi-k planar cell. SK Hynix formed upon SK Telecom’s acquisition of controlling interest in Hynix Semicondactor. MOSAID sampled 333GB/s HL-NAND. Adesto acquired Atmel’s Serial NOR business. Spansion introduced 8Gb NOR chip. DensBits Technologies introduced Memory Modem. Proximal Data introduced AutoCache. SanDisk acquired FlashSoft. OCZ acquired Sanrad. Samsung acquired NVELO. Intel acquired Nevex and introduced CacheWorks. LSI introduced Nytro flash with MegaRAID CacheCade caching software. Micron introduced 2.5-inch PCIe enterprise SSD. SanDisk co-founder, Eli Harari, received FMS Lifetime Achievement Award.

2013 – Samsung announced availability of 24-layer 3D V-NAND and demonstrated 1TB SSD at FMS 2013. Diablo Technologies announced Memory Channel Storage technology. SMART Storage Systems incorporated Diablo Technologies designs into ULtraDIMM. Western Digital and SanDisk introduced SSHD using iSSSD combined with an HDD. Toshiba introduced line of SSHDs. Everspin Technologies announced shipments of STT MRAM. Micron and other companies sampled 16nm flash memory. SanDisk released CFast 2.0 memory card, fastest memory card for professional video. M.2 PCIe interface formalized NVMe standard issued to accelerate communications with flash storage. Western Digital acquired sTec, Virident and Velobit. SanDisk acquired SMART Storage Systems. NVMdurance introduced software to extend flash endurance. Micron acquired Elpida. Intel introduced Intel Cache Acceleration Software. Fujio Masuoka, formerly of Toshiba, received FMS Lifetime Achievement Award. The revenue reached $30 billion.

2014 – Samsung, SanDisk and Toshiba announced 3D NAND production facilities. SanDisk introduced 4TB Enterprise SSD. SanDisk announced 128GB microSD card, a 1000x increase in capacity on device’s 10th anniversary. IBM announced eXFlash DIMMs using SanDisk ULLtraDIMM’s implementation of Diablo Memory Channel Storage technology. Samsung rolled out II generation of 3D V-NAND with 32 layers. Spansion introduced HyperFlash NOR with 333 MB/s HyperBus. Toshiba acquired OCZ. Everspin introduced and ramped production of ST-MRAM. Samsung introduced 3-bit/cell 3D NAND SSDs. Adesto shipped one-millionth CBRAM. SK Hynix acquired Violin’s PCIe SSD business. Seagate acquired LSI/Avago storage business. SanDisk acquired Fusion-io. HGST acquired Skyera. Samsung acquired Proximal Data. Simon Sze, formerly of Bell Labs, received FMS Lifetime Achievement Award.

2015 – SanDisk introduced InfinitiFlash storage system. Cypress Semiconductor acquired Spansion. Toshiba and SanDisk announced 48-layer 3D NAND. Intel and Micron announced 384Gb 3D NAND. Samsung introduced first NVMe m.2 SSDs and 4 B layer V-NAND. SanDisk introduced 200GB microSDXC UHS-I-card. Cypress introduced 4MB serial FRAM. Intel and Micron announced 3D XPoint Memory. Intel introduced XPoint-based “Optane” DIMMs and SSDs. Bob Norman, formerly of SanDisk and Micron received FMS Lifetime Achievement Award. The revenue reached $35 billion.

2016 – SK Hynix sampled 3D NAND m.2 NVMe SSD. XMC broke ground on first China-owned NAND flash fab. Micron presented 768Gb 3D NAND. Western Digital acquired SanDisk. Micron shipped 3D NAND. Everspin announced 256Mb MRAM chips and 1 Gb chips by the end of year. IBM adopted TLC to PCM. Samsung shipped 48-layer 3D NAND. Kinam Kim, President System LSI/Semiconductor Business, Samsung received FMS Lifetime Achievement Award.

The revenue for 2016 is estimated to reach $37 billion.

Information from Flash Memory Summit. Flash revenue numbers provided by Objective Analysis.


A Short History of Flash Memory (1)

A Short History of Flash Memory (1)

Flash Memory Summit, August 2016 – Flash memory is the enabling technology for most of the mobile devices today.  It allows for very high capacities of storage for things like music, voice, photos and videos to be stored for long periods of time, without needing power to store the information when it is not being used.

Eli Harari, who holds over 100 patents and has widespread recognition (including IEEE Reynold B. Johnson Data Storage device Technology Award in 2006 and IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal in 2009), described flash memory as descriptive technology in that time. This descriptive technology enabled consumer applications such as cellphones, digital cameras, music players etc. that we enjoy today and they shape our lives. Here is a timeline of history of flash memory development.

The beginning of successful story of flash memory started at Bell Laboratories. In 1967 Kahng and Sze invented the floating gate memory device which allows a transistor to remember a digital value of 0 or 1, without power, until it is ready to be checked. Few years later Eli Harari of Hughes Electronics filed for first practical floating gate EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory) using thin SiO2 and using the electron characteristic of Fowler Nordheim tunneling for program and erase.

In 1978 Hughes Electronics introduced first CMOS NOVRAM 256-bit chip (non-volatile SRAM) and two years later the 1980, first CMOS EEPROM 8Kbit chip was released.  Both of these chips used Fowler Nordheim floating gate EEPROM technology. In 1980 Intel introduced the Intel2816, a 16K bit HMOS EEPROM with Fowler Nordheim tunneling and 3 years later the Intel2817A 16K bit EEPROM. While these chips were in the marketplace, the first paper describing flash EEPROM was presented by Fujio Masuoka of Toshiba at IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco in 1984, the year after Exel filed patent for the first NOR organized flash memory cell. In 1986 Intel introduced the flash card concept with ECC and on-card controller and the company formed unit focusing on solid state drives.

The flash memory industry financial success started grown rapidly at the end of the 1980s ($1.6M in 1987; $6.4M in 1988; $25M in 1989) followed by many inventions and patents.

1987 – Fujio Masuoka of Toshiba presented first NAND-type flash memory technology at IEDM. Intel invented first Flash File System concept and introduced NOR flash chips.

1988 – Early EEPROM inventor/investigator Elli Harari along with Sanjay Mehrotra and Jack Yuan founded SunDisk (later the name was changed to SanDisk) in 1988 to develop new “system Flash” architecture combining embedded controller, firmware and flash memory to emulate disk storage. The company filed the first two MLC (Multi-level-cell) flash patents. JPEG and MPEG standards allowed economical production of digital cameras and first flash-based digital camera, Fuji DS-1P was demonstrated. Intel sampled 1Mb NOR flash. Intel and Psion designed flash-based mobile PC.

1989 – SunDisk filed System Flash patent. M-Systems was founded and shorty after introduced the Flash Disk concept, that was precursor to flash SSDs. The same year Intel shipped 512K and 1Mb NOR flash. Psion introduced flash-based PC. Microsoft joined effort with Intel and introduced its Flash File System. Western Digital and SunDisk launched a NOR-based Flash SSD fully emulating a traditional rotating ATA HDD.

At Comdex (Computer Dealers’ Exhibition), the largest computer trade show in the world (precursor of today’s CES) that was held in Las Vegas, DiGiPro introduced 8Mb NOR Flashdisk. The flash industry reached 100 million parts shipped and made many introductions such as EReader by Sony, camera prototypes by Kodak, 1MB and 4MB linear flash PCMCIA card and 2Mb NOR chip by Intel, first NOR flash SSD: 20MB 2.5”, fully compatible with Conner Peripherals 2.5” ATA HDD. This year also PCMCIA set standard on ATA PC card form factor and pinout, using SunDisk “System Flash” specification for full HDD compatibility.

At the beginning of 1990 flash memory industry expanding amazingly fast like never before and the revenue grown from $170 million in 1991, $295 million in 1992, $505 million in 1993, $864 million in 1994 and reached over $1.8 billion in 1995.

1991 – Toshiba developed world’s first 4 Mb NAND flash. Kodak shipped DCS-100, its first DSC at $13,000. Zenith Poqet and HP showed palm-sized notebook computers using flash memory cards at Spring Comdex.

1992 – Information Storage Devices introduced flash based voice recorder chip. AMD and Fujitsu released its first NOR product. M-Systems demonstrated TrueFFS that was adopted later by the PCMCIA as FTL. That was a year when Intel launched few products including: second generation FFS2, 8Mb flash chip, 4MB-20MB linear flash memory cards and   1Mb “boot bloc” NOR flash with sectors for BIOS applications – first use of internal write state machine to manage flash write algorithm. SunDisk introduced first serial 9Mb NOR Flash chip for SSD applications. Starting 1992 PCs began using flash for BIOS storage.

1993 – Datalight introduced “Card Trick” flash management software. Apple initiated the use of NOR flash in their Newton PDA. Intel inaugurated 16Mb and 32Mb NOR flash. Intel and Conner jointly developed 5MB/10MB ATA flash disk drive. AMD introduced 5-volt-only NOR using negative gate erase.

1994 – SunDisk presented CompactFlash card and 18Mb serial NOR Flash chip for SSD applications. Norris Communications introduced Flashback, the first portable digital voice recorder with flash memory.

1995 – Casio launched the QV-11 digital camera with flash rather than film or floppy. Mitsubishi introduced DiNOR. M-Systems initiated flash-based Solid State Drives and NOR-based DiskOnChip. SunDisk that changed the name to SanDisk introduced 34Mb Serial NOR Flash, first MLC flash chip for SSD applications.

In 1996 flash memory revenues reached $2.6 billion and noted 163% growth in 10 years.

1996 – Toshiba introduced SmartMedia Memory Card also called Solid State Floppy Disk Card. Samsung started shipping NAND flash. Kodak DC-25 was first DSC with CompactFlash card. Datalight launched “FlashFX” flash management software supporting NOR and NAND in the single driver. SanDisk initiated first flash cards with MLC serial NOR. Palm introduced flash-memory-based PDA.

1997 – First cell phones were shipped with flash memory. SaeHan Information Systems presented flash-based MPMan MP3 player. SanDisk and Siemens introduced the MultiMedia Card (MMC and MMCplus). Sony demonstrated the Memory Stick. M-Systems launched NAND based DiskOnChip/200 mm wafers began production/500 million flash chips were shipped. Intel introduced 2-bit/cell 64 Mb MLC StrataFlash.

1998 – NOR revenue exceeded $2 billion. 250nm process was announced. SaeHan Information Systems and licensee Eiger shipped world’s first mass-produced MP3 player (MPMan) with 32MB. Diamond Rio demonstrated its PMP300 MP3 player. Panasonic, SanDisk and Toshiba launed SD card.

1999 – NOR revenue exceeded $4 billion. Toshiba and SanDisk created flash memory manufacturing joint venture. Micron announced NOR products/over 1 billion flash chips were shipped. Dov Moran of M-Systems applied for patent on a USB-based flash drive.

2000 – Flash (NOR and NAND) revenue exceeded $10 billion. M-Systems (working with IBM) and Trek Technology introduced USB flash drives. Intel shipped its one billion flash unit/160nm process was announced.

2001 – NAND revenue exceeded $1 billion. Toshiba and SanDisk announced 1Gb MLC NAND. SanDisk by itself introduced first NAND System Flash product. Hitachi launched AG-AND. Samsung began mass production of 512Mb flash memory device.

2002 – Olympus in the cooperation with FujiFilm presented xD-Picture Card. MMCmobile card was introduce by MultiMediaCard Association (MMCA). Sony and SanDisk jointly launched the Memory Stick PRO and half-size Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. AMD introduced MirrorBit charge trap flash. 130nm process was announced.

2003 – NAND revenue exceeded $5 billion. SanDisk introduced mnSD card. Sony in cooperation with SanDisk launched the Memory Stick PRO Micro. Spansion was created out of AMD and Fujitsu.

2004 – NAND prices drop below DRAM prices for the first time at the same density. SanDisk and M-Systems introduced U3 software system for USB flash drives. SanDisk and Motorola launched the TransFlash card, now known as microSD card. Datalight initiated multi-threaded “FlashFX Pro” management software to support multimedia NAND devices. Spansion introduced MirrorBit Quad 4-bit NOR. The 90nm process node was announced for flash memory production. Hynix and ST Micro formed joint venture and Hynix NAND product was introduced. Infineon NAND product based on Saifun Charge Trap Flash was announced. Panasonic and Sanyo launched the first flash-based camcorders. SanDisk inaugurated Flash Sansa MP3 players.

In 2005 Apple introduced its first two flash-based iPods, the iPod shuffle and the iPod nano. The process of consumerization of flash memory started.

Information from Flash Memory Summit. Flash revenue numbers provided by Objective Analysis.


Vicon Advances MoCap at SIGGRAPH 2016

Vicon Advances MoCap at SIGGRAPH 2016

Siggraph, July 2016 – In an interview with Jeffrey Ovadya, Director of Sales and Marketing for Vicon Motion Systems, we got a chance to hear about their latest mocap camera and also Project Katana which was being demonstrated on the conference expo floor at SIGGRAPH 2016.

Motion Capture, or MoCap has moved to the mainstream for VFX production in movies, TV, advertising and most content creation.  It has even expanded to support automated PTZ camera movement for live TV production using virtual studios.  The primary product from the company is high speed cameras for motion capture that are mounted to a scaffolding system or framing to define a 3D space where the movement is captured.  The new cameras and software are designed to be smarter and easier to use, as mocap moves from the professional space to the prosumer market.

For simplicity in the use of mocap, Jeff said that Vicon has started a program called “Project Katana”.  The idea behind it is to have a system that in real time will create a mocap skeleton model ad bring the data into systems like Final Cut.  The goal is to have final quality, fully rigged and articulated skeletons of the mocap session at the end of each shot.  This will provide full skeletons of all characters in the 3D capture space, at the end of each day, along with the production dailies.  In order to perform this analysis, the studio setup and network has to be self-healing.  The data environment for motion and the rigging connections in the project are being done using a Matlab mathematical modeling core.

The booth at the SIGGRAPH expo was showing the system however there is not release date or a “product name” for when Project Katana will be released.


To address this shift towards simplicity, Vicon has introduced the Vero camera.  It is available in two models the v1.3 which is a 1.3MP camera and the v2.2 which is a 2.2MP camera.  Designed specifically for mocap applications, the cameras are an 850nm IR greyscale camera that operates at either 250FPS for the v1.3 or 330FPS for v2.2.  The high frame rates on the cameras allow for real time and full range live motion capture.

The cameras have a variable focus lens from 6mm-12mm for use in low angle and high angle applications.  A major design simplification for the user is the single cable connection.  The cameras have standard RJ45/Cat5e Ethernet connector that serves to be the interface for the camera control, data connection from the units and power the units using the POE specification.  For this single cable connection system, the cameras have been designed to only require 12W to operate.  Like the prior generation and larger camera the Vantage, the Vero has on-board sensors that monitor camera position and temperature to ensure optimal performance.

Architects bring 3D printing to the outside world

Architects bring 3D printing to the outside world

August 2015, Siggraph – Two panelists came from Amsterdam to attend Siggraph 2015 and at the Lenovo’s panel share discussion about their new project. Tim Geurtjens and Gijs Van Der Velden are co-founders of MX3D, a company researching and developing groundbreaking robotic 3D printing technology. They developed 3D large scale printers that allowed printing large structures and different materials including plastic, stainless steel and aluminum. Tim and Gijs recently came up with an ambitious plan to build a steel bridge over the canal in Amsterdam. Geurtjens confessed that idea of building a bridge using 3-D printing techniques started with frustration about the 3D printing market. “We use 3D printers all the time, but they make only the small parts. We asked the companies that manufacture 3-D printers to develop printers for large parts but the companies were not interested in developing them” said Guertjens, “so we decided to do it on our own.”

Tim and Gijs discussed their plan to build a 3D printed steel bridge over the canal in Amsterdam. “We want to show the world what that technique could do”. The founders of MX3D are getting government support for this project as the city officials are really interested in presenting Amsterdam as an innovative and progressive city. Even though they invented the technology, they estimate that it will take them a year to understand fully, the capacity and the limits of their technology in an outdoor application and do a design. The starting date is set for spring 2017 and with an estimate to take 3-4 months to print the bridge. The most interesting thing about this 3-D image technique is that we can not only print the building as a new object, but we can use the multi-robots in the system to build in place from an existing structure. In that case, the projects can be of unlimited size” said Geutjens.

Using these 3D printing techniques, it is possible to recreate things. Geurtjens sees the printers as an extension of the existing techniques. Currently, there is a Chinese company that is us using additive manufacturing to print buildings, but it is more efficient and most appreciated, if we use the technology to create additional decorative pieces. It is well known that decoration is the heart of architecture. The use of computers and printers allows these designs to be extravagant, as it does not matter how complex the pieces are. Why use traditional techniques if we can add to them with the time and money consuming details?