Proximity meets requirements for Edge-based immersive VR and AR experiences

Proximity meets requirements for Edge-based immersive VR and AR experiences

The GRID Factory needed to offer its client a new approach for delivering highly accurate 3D city models and found the solution in Proximity’s Edge 7, 89,000 sqft. Edge data centre in Swindon. Ben Jones, Founder and CTO of The GRID Factory, outlines some of the benefits of the project and the ways in which Proximity ticked all the boxes.

In May 2022, Proximity Data Centres completed an advanced implementation of a sophisticated Edge Computing platform at its Edge 7 data centre in Swindon. This was for The GRID Factory. The 25kW high-density racks, supported by a highly efficient climate control, use a three-stage cooling system to ensure IT equipment performs efficiently.

Description of application

The GRID Factory is an Immersive Technology Integrator and Cloud Services Provider which specialises in NVIDIA technologies such as CloudXR, vGPU, Omniverse and EGX Server. Its client required a new approach for delivering highly accurate 3D city models which enable designers, architects and engineers to work from a variety of remote locations, enabling a building to be conceived, co-designed, engineered and deployed as a 3D model both on and off site. The 3D city models starting initially in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Detroit and Dublin have been added to the portfolio, with more available on request.

Powered by NVIDIA RTX data centre technology, the application allows high levels of collaboration through the design, approval and build phases and so reduces the associated costs to the client. It allows key stakeholders to quickly visualise and understand any changes and to measure progress without physically being together.

The GRID Factory platform uses a combination of high performance, low latency, Edge networking provided by its partner, BT, which connects customers to NVIDIA RTX 8000 and NVIDIA A40 data centre GPUs to allow highly performant, real time, 3D and immersive experiences.

Key requirements and challenges

The GRID Factory platform requires high levels of power (25kW) in a single rack as well as cooling in a secure environment. Power requirements of this level are still very rare in the data centre market and are challenging to deliver cost-effectively.

Due to the design of the Proximity Edge 7 data centre, Proximity was able to create an extremely comprehensive package that not only allows support for these new 3D and immersive workloads to be delivered but will also support resource-intensive computational workloads such as Blockchain, AI and ML on The GRID Factory platform.

Lastly, The GRID Factory required an Edge data centre partner that could support the deployment of multiple platforms across the UK to ensure a best-in-class service, minimising latency and reducing network costs.

The solution 

Commencing in February 2022, Proximity and The GRID Factory worked closely to understand the unique requirements for the computing platform and to develop the solution.

In April 2022, Proximity’s Edge 7,  89,000 sqft. Edge data centre in Swindon was chosen as the initial deployment site for the application. Along with significant power, the facility offers easy access to digital fibre routes connecting London to Ireland and the US. It is also highly accessible to the major R&D hub at Harwell which is home to numerous research organisations in biotech, genome and space tech.

The site uses a modular and flexible blade room design to support The GRID Factory platform which will allow the platform to grow as well as ensuring continuity of power and high levels of cooling.

The cooling unit uses primarily fresh air cooling for external temperatures up to 24°C degrees centigrade, with secondary evaporative cooling controlling temperatures up to 34°C. However, the system has been tested up to 48°C. Direct Expansion (DX) refrigerant cooling provides final backup for temperatures exceeding 34°C. DX cooling is also used during full re-circulation mode should the outside air become contaminated, or to contain the fire-extinguishing gas system in the event of an internal fire.

The GRID Factory technology stack uses specially designed cold aisle technology which is sealed and pressurised with blanking panels to stop cool air loss. Thermal imaging is used to check for leakage from the hot aisle. A key factor was not only the ability to support a 25kW rack today but be able to increase to 50kW in the future.

In addition, the availability of diverse high-capacity fibre connectivity was a key consideration to minimise latency. This was achieved through Proximity Edge 7 and BT.

Further benefits

To support the required future deployment of multiple platforms, Proximity Data Centres has 10 Edge facilities in the UK on stream and has identified another 10 sites to acquire in the next 12 months. Proximity’s policy of full on-site support, transition and onboarding and provision, along with server migration services and a straightforward contract with a single set of SLAs covering one or multiple sites was also a key factor in the decision to partner. 

“The GRID Factory has delivered a variety of Virtual and Augmented Reality experiences for partners and clients including NVIDIA, Autodesk, Cavrnus, BT, EE, Vodafone, Coventry University, Ericsson, Hyperbat and DivisionX,” said Ben Jones, Founder and CTO of The GRID Factory.

“As an Immersive Technology Integrator and Cloud Services Provider which specialises in NVIDIA technologies, we make major demands on data centre power, connectivity and engineering support. Proximity has ticked all the boxes in this respect when it comes to power availability, scalability, low latency and onsite support,” said Jones.

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