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Disney embraces HP Linux for animation

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HP today announced that something called Walt Disney Feature Animation had fixed on HP Linux workstations and servers as components (we'll italicise the weasel words) in its next-generation digital animation production pipeline (oh screw, no we won't).

HP winning Disney for Linux is of course a massive victory, but if you pick through the release it's all a bit vague really. We've got a "broad range of products and services" including something that renders in an Opera browser on Win2k as "Intelâ Xeon-powered HP x4000 workstations" (goodness only knows what it looks like in Mozilla on Linux, a configuration we appear not to have handy) and "high-density HP IA-32 based servers for rendering."

So how many machines, how much money? Such releases tend not to mention these things, and we fear nobody will tell us. But there's an intriguing mention of something called the "Leadership Graphics Program," which HP is also delivering to Disney. This "allows participants to partner with the leading graphic card vendors and graphics software developers to provide the broadest choice of graphic solutions for the entertainment industry." And we are no doubt both cynical and entirely erroneous in presuming that this is a cunning dodge to get graphics vendors to gouge one another's margins into the red zone, thus reducing the cost for both parties.

Enough. Almost. HP tells us that: "In 1938, Disney became one of HP 's earliest customers after purchasing eight HP Model 200B resistance- capacity oscillators from founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. At the time, Disney was seeking a way to produce their new movie 'Fantasia' with lifelike sound by weaving works from Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Stravinsky and others to produce an early version of SurroundSound in exclusive theatres around the country."

Note that the critical role of said oscillators in Fantasia is not clearly identified. Note also how impressed Disney was by whatever it was said oscillators did: "More than 60 years later, Disney is again turning to HP technology to drive innovation in animation." Time's a great healer.

Some guy from HP called (no, we're not making this up) Martin Fink reinforces this by telling us: "Disney and HP have worked together at very pivotal points in history -- at the inception of the companies and now as the digital animation industry approaches a key turning point." And that, really, is enough. ®

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