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iSGTW Link of the week - FennoGrid: gridding with the people

Link of the week - FennoGrid: gridding with the people

Assembly is billed as a four-day non-stop party for computer enthusiasts. This shot shows participants in the FennoGrid challenge, battling wits in a huge multiplayer game that took place while the animation was rendering.
Image courtesy of Antti Hartikainen

What happens if you gather 5000 gamers, with almost 3000 personal computers, and ask them to hook together an ad-hoc grid at a massive gaming festival?

FennoGrid recently found out.

FennoGrid is a Finnish non-profit organization set up to share information about grid and peer-to-peer research.

Our most recent event took place at Finnish computer festival Assembly, a great place to raise awareness of grids with computer-savvy future users.

Mission: possible?

The challenge: to build and operate a huge ad-hoc cluster for 15 minutes, recruiting as many participants as possible to help render a 3D animation, all while playing a big-screen multi-player computer game.

The technology: We used Blender software to render the animation and our modified version of NetBlend to distribute the rendering. To chip in their power, participants needed to download a small self-contained package, available for Windows and Linux.

Wipe out, but we'll be back

The event gained a lot of publicity, even though it did not work out exactly as planned.

The most visual part-a multiplayer game displayed on a large screen-worked well and attracted nearly 800 players. However, our rendering software was not robust enough and failed under the strain, despite running on two powerful servers.

We did not manage to get the animation rendered during those 15 minutes; however, we consider this event a success.

We raised interest in grids and also held a 45-minute seminar about grids the day before our demo. Our attempt also raised a lot of interest and publicity, and we're looking forward to holding a similar event: next time we will know better what to do and how!

- Kalle Happonen, FennoGrid

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