Quadrillions and Quadrillions of Cycles

Not having enough to do one day, Jon started wondering about all those lazy processors out there that don't have enough to do. He counted 'em up and thinks they might be put to good use rendering.

Robert Dow

The number of processors, both x86 and GPU, available for rendering has been increasing exponentially. Rendering is one of the applications that can soak up all the cycles that are available to it, which is an example of Peddie’s first law – In computer graphics, too much is not enough.

We looked at the installed base of x86 and GPU processors, applied a factor for the average number of cores and developed the following chart.

potential rendering cores

Cores alone don’t tell the whole story, the real measure is how millions of operations per second can the processor execute. A general figure of merit is to multiple the processor’s clock by its word size. The GPUs running at one fourth the speed of a CPU, and with just a 32-bit processor compared to the 64-bit CPU still delver the most MIPS because of their overwhelming number of cores.

Total Mips Available for Rendering
The chart indicate that there is at least 450 billion computer cycles available every second. Carrying that to its ridiculous extreme assuming the processors ran 24 hours a day, there are 38 quadrillion processor cycles available a day for rendering.

These computer cycles are almost free, they’re going to be available just by the sheer momentum of the industry and they represent new opportunities and developments. Think about how fast and cheap rendering is going to be. Think about all the background functions that will done automatically and invisibly. It’s Peddie’s Third Law: the technology works when it’s invisible.