From the dance floor to the data center

A server rack inside a data center. The entire shot is lit in stark, blue light.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

More than 1.5 million people have now seen the ABBA Voyage show since it debuted in 2021. This was the first gig the band had performed together in almost 40 years and, thanks to modern technology, they didn’t technically perform at any of the live shows. 

Instead, AI and motion-capture technology allowed the Swedish quartet to reach a younger audience and breathe new life into their work. To make the show happen, the original band members wore motion-capture suits while performing a 22-song set in front of some 160 cameras that were used to follow their movements and sounds over five weeks – younger body doubles also helped out. 

However, what you see from the dance floor is actually holograms, dubbed ABBAtars. These were created by the visual effects specialist Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) - one of many companies using the latest hardware and software to create award-winning experiences. 

The visual effects that have brought ABBA back to the stage would have taken years to create not so long ago, but now advances in processors, computers, and AI are changing the way we live and work. What’s more, it’s also helping to set us up for success in both areas.

Background magic  

Like ILM, has also pushed the boundaries of special effects, with its work on the blockbuster films Dune and Dune Part 2. The first installment of Dune was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won 6, including Best Special Effects.  

Wylie was founded in 2015 under the idea that it was possible to build a smaller team that could be more efficient and more capable of doing large chunks of work on feature films, according to its CEO Jacob Maymudes. 

“We create pre-vis, post-vis, and visual effects finals,” Maymudes says. “We do that in a very efficient manner, and we also do that at a higher quality than most other visual effects vendors provide.” 

For Dune, Wylie’s teams created highly detailed effects, large and small, throughout the film, from massive background structures to minuscule tweaks such as the color of a character’s eyes. For this kind of data-heavy work, companies tend to choose high-performance hardware, and that is certainly the case with ILM and Wylie, with both partnering with AMD to tap into the power of the chip giant’s Threadripper Pro processor which powers the Lenovo ThinkSystem P620. 



(Image credit: AMD)

Scale your AI infrastructure

On Dune, Wylie needed to turn around hundreds and hundreds of post-vis shots and hundreds and hundreds of final shots, according to Maymudes. To achieve that goal the firm deployed dozens of Lenovo’s P620 ThinkStations to its in-office and remote teams, allowing work to be created anywhere and at any time. 

“To be successful in this business, you have to be incredibly efficient and in order to do that you have to have the best hardware,” Maymudes says. “In our research, we found the AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro. It had an immense number of cores and just an unfathomable amount of bandwidth. And that’s what we needed.”

The ultrasound people 

By 2030, most major blockbuster films will be 90% created with AI, according to Gartner – reportedly none were generated in such a way in 2022. Similar predictions are being made in other sectors and other fields of work, with new advances enabling new ways of working and even better ways of living.

Physicians at the Elk Valley Hospital in Fernie, Canada struggled to treat patients who needed ultrasound scans because they didn’t have the equipment. Fernie is a town of 5,000 people, and its main medical facility had limited resources; no CT scans, no diagnostic ultrasound system. What's more, sometimes it couldn’t even provide X-rays. The residents of Fernie would have to travel hundreds of miles for diagnostic ultrasounds and in the winter that was a significant risk due to the remote location and heavy snowfall. 

“Traditional ultrasound systems are expensive, they’re not portable, and they’re very difficult to use,” says Ohad Arazi, the president and CEO of Claruis Mobile Health. “We got really excited about creating a solution that’s wireless, that’s inexpensive, and that’s powered by artificial intelligence.”

Claruis’ solution was to provide adaptive computing and AI technology in a handheld ultrasound machine. The device allowed doctors to give the residents quick and simple scans at their local hospital thanks to the innovative processor technology inside. 

With an AMD ZYNQ chip embedded in the device, the Clarius handheld solves several technical challenges by creating a platform that pulls software, automation, and artificial intelligence onto a single platform. This is a life-changing example of edge computing that has harnessed the potential of AI. 

Korean cloud company Kakao i Cloud has also used AMD tech to develop innovative AI services, with CPUs and GPUs powering its data centers and its edge technology. The company harnesses the AMD Epyc ‘Genoa’ processor and the Alved V70 GPU to power facial recognition and privacy systems 

“As a leading cloud service, Kakao i Cloud is focused on providing a platform with convenient access to high-performance cloud built on AI technology,” says Steve Lee, the CEO of Kakao i Cloud. 

AI is an incredibly transformational technology when applied to a wide range of settings and sectors, from entertainment to healthcare and everything in between. 

Whether we’re in the office or working remotely, so much more can be achieved thanks to data being processed in real-time, from the edge. Our work and the decisions we can make are becoming faster, more efficient, and, most crucially, more reliable. 


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