Architectural Practices: Preparing for 4K visualisation

There are many IT challenges confronting architectural services firms today. Take, for example, the design of storage environments to support the high-end 3D graphics, virtualisation and modelling applications required to deliver the hyper-realised digital models and images clients expect.

Computer-aided design has come a long way in recent years. Today’s integrated visualisation models incorporate both architectural and building services components – creating truly photo-realistic, highly rendered images and spaces.

Increasing Demands of Architectural Technology

Compressing design cycles and reducing costs to boost competitiveness is just part of the story. A global delivery remit often means architectural design groups need to ensure remote teams, as well as external suppliers and partners, have faster and better access to data. That requires a secure deployment model that can support a highly distributed workforce, and the centralised data storage and processing resources required to cope with the demands of a highly dynamic environment. All of which has to be achieved without sacrificing performance.

Preparing for 4K visualisation

The adoption of ultra-high definition display monitors, like 4K screens, is set to push the demand for storage capacity through the roof. A full HD display with a resolution of 1920×1080 has about 2.1 megapixels, but a typical 4K PC display has a native resolution of 3840×2160 or roughly 8.3 megapixels. While this enhanced resolution is great news for creative teams, it represents a major challenge for the IT team. Because the storage implications and data rates associated with 4K design workflows are significant.

Video & VR Go Mainstream

Some of our architectural clients have estimated their storage requirements will more than double with the introduction of 4K screens and are enabling 10Gbps to the desktop to future-proof the user experience when working with high-end visualisation applications and files. In addition, with film and virtual reality just around the corner, we are anticipating that the growing move to video representations will chew through terabytes of data.

Raw 4K files are massive, and the cost of hard drive space to meet the demands of ultra HD 4K video production can balloon very quickly; one hour of RAW 4K content requires close to 110GB of storage – approximately 2GB per minute.

Digital visualisation processes and technologies represent a big data storage challenge that has big cost and performance implications. Architectural practices need to prepare for file sizes to grow exponentially – containing up to four times more data. Holding all that metadata is just one aspect to consider; transferring all that data to users means your network costs are also set to increase dramatically too. Therefore, alongside looking at high-performance storage, capable of supporting file streaming, preparing for 4K will also mean taking a close look at the best storage architecture for big data sets.

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