Nowadays, you can’t produce an effects-heavy movie without a high performance computing (HPC) system. HPC has played a critical role in diverse pursuits like generating photo-realistic images, modeling the structure of human genome, simulating the movement of weather, and searching for oil and gas.
However, most HPC resources are only utilized by major entities. It is difficult for smaller projects and organizations to set up these cutting-edge facilities because of hefty upfront costs and high technical threshold.
But that is changing, as processing power is moving onto the cloud and becoming available to anyone with an internet connection. Following the same path of development for personal computers and servers over the past decades, the cloud is breaking down barriers to entry for small organizations that require HPC. Cloud-based solutions now help businesses of all sizes to perform critical simulations and batch calculations, and allow many startups to innovate in emerging technology sectors even if they have limited budgets.
GridMarkets is a software company that helps consumers wield cloud HPC capabilities without breaking the bank. It developed a product that renders animation, visual effects, and drug discovery simulations, so that enterprises and small teams can produce content that is on par with big-budget productions.
A decade ago, Mark Ross and Hakim Karim, the founders of GridMarkets, noticed that the demand for computing power and data transaction volumes was escalating dramatically in various sectors. This was particularly true for the media and entertainment industry, as the visual effects were becoming increasingly realistic. They established GridMarkets in 2011 to meet the rising demand for HPC.
The startup aims to “democratize creativity” by opening access to high-caliber computational resources. This specifically addresses the needs of small studios that struggle with mounting infrastructure costs and complex cloud solutions.
GridMarkets serves students like George Simms, a graduate student majoring in computational arts. GridMarkets’ student deal made it affordable for him to render his final project and the quick turnaround meant his piece was ready before the deadline.
“GridMarkets as a platform provided a super quick and easy way to develop the project, letting me go way beyond my hardware restraints and push out tests quickly for fast project development. The focus remains on the content and creation instead of the rendering limitations,” said Simms.
The startup’s service reduces two weeks’ rendering time to just hours, co-founder Hakim Karim told KrASIA. To trim overhead, GridMarkets does not own or maintain any hardware. It partners with major cloud providers such as Alibaba Cloud, Oracle Cloud, and Lancium so that the cost of running cloud computing is reduced by as much as 70%.
Customers pay for the exact processing capacity that they need. This eliminates the necessity of going through the complex process of setting up infrastructure on the cloud, paying rent for computing power, and calculating the time needed for computation. Altogether, this saves the time and effort for 2o steps, said Karim.
So far, GridMarkets has kept a low profile. The company is backed by several angel investors and has focused mainly on optimizing its product in the past decade.
Going forward, GridMarkets aims to move beyond visualizations for pharma and entertainment, Karim told KrASIA. The company is developing plug-ins for other professional tools in fields like financial services, academic research, and biotech, following the development of HPC being applied in a wide range of industries.
The company plans to scale up services for suppliers and consumers of computational resources. GridMarkets has formed partnerships with Pixar, SideFX, Maxon, Chaos Group, and Autodeskro to source rendering licenses. It offers discounts to students and researchers attached to specific institutions and universities. Currently, GridMarkets has more than 5,000 registered users across 110 countries.
GridMarkets was one of the ten finalists of the Alibaba Cloud x KrASIA Global Startup Accelerator Hong Kong Demo Day that was held on December 14. It was named as the Asia Star of the event alongside Vika, an enterprise software developer.