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Jul 28, 2011 8:53 am

An introduction to Pixar’s Tractor 1.0


As we head into SIGGRAPH 2011 coverage in the coming month we thought it would be useful to introduce some new or new-ish software tools that many in the 3D community may not yet know about–especially those (perhaps?) on the Mac side of the equation.

Pixar is famous for its movies and its RenderMan software. Those in the know, have known for quite some time now that Pixar’s RenderMan is back on the Mac in a big way but the company continues to develop software (most of it for exclusive internal use) and some of it is for distribution.

One such piece of software is Pixar’s Tractor. Tractor 1.0 is Pixar’s totally new, next-generation, distributed processing rendering solution. In other words, it is a network-intensive application for distributing software rendering tasks.

What makes Tractor special is that it is specifically engineered for extreme scalability and performance, ideal for multi-core networks with upwards of tens of thousands of processors–perhaps a hundred thousand processors or more.

Tractor is designed to replace Pixar’s Alfred and Alfserver, which are network rendering tools which are still in production. Both will be phased out over a term ending in June of 2012.

Tractor 1.0 has three parts. The Tractor-Engine maintains the central job queue and dispatch of tasks. Tractor-Blade is a Python based execution server running on each remote node. Finally, Tractor-Dashboard is a customizable web browser user interface providing centralized control of the Tractor-Engine.

Tractor 1.0 is based on a streamlined architecture designed for rapid deployment. The licensing model is simplified compared to Pixar’s Alfred products. Performance-wise it can deliver over 500 tasks per second to the queuing engine.

Tractor is extendable to non-rendering applications, such as compositing or physics simulations. A single license of Tractor 1.0 comes with each single license (or seat) of RenderMan Studio. No licenses come with RenderMan Pro Server. With this initial release Tractor 1.0 is intended to appeal to mid-sized to large installations of RenderMan.

Both RenderMan Studio and RenderMan for Autodesk Maya have full support for Tractor 1.0. Tractor is of course a multi-threaded application coded in C++ and responds to HTTP transaction requests and maintains a database of spooled jobs as a shallow (flat) hiearchy of files on desk.

Tractor 1.0 today is planned for dispatching RenderMan Pro Server tasks, but because of its extensibility will support plugins in the future for integration with other CG applications.

Microbiological features

CoNS, Enterobacter species, Serratia species, A. baumannii , and Candida species were more likely to be isolated from patients in ICUs ( P < .001), whereas S. aureus, Klebsiella species and E. coli were more common in patients in wards ( P < .001). No significant differences were seen for enterococci or Pseudomonas aeruginosa ( table 1 ).

When stratified by clinical service, the following patterns emerged: CoNS were the most frequently isolated pathogens for all services, except orthopedics and obstetrics, where S. aureus and E. coli , respectively, were more frequently isolated. S. aureus , enterococci, and Candida species usually followed in various rank orders ( table 2 ).

Table 2
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Distribution of nosocomial bloodstream infections (BSIs) and most frequently isolated pathogens causing BSIs, by clinical service.

Table 2
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Distribution of nosocomial bloodstream infections (BSIs) and most frequently isolated pathogens causing BSIs, by clinical service.

When different age groups were compared, the proportion of CoNS decreased from 49% in patients <1 year to 27% in patients >65 years, whereas the proportion of S. aureus in the same patient populations increased from 9.5% to 24%, respectively. For gram-negative pathogens and Candida species, the proportions remained stable.

When patients were stratified into those with neutropenia and those without neutropenia, 2 differences emerged. BSI due to S. aureus was more common among nonneutropenic patients (21%, compared with 9% among neutropenic patients), whereas BSI due to viridans group streptococci was more common among patients with neutropenia (2%, compared with 0.5% among nonneutropenic patients). Other organisms accounted for about the same proportion (absolute difference, <2%) of BSIs in each group.

In patients with monomicrobial BSIs, the crude mortality ( table 1 ) ranged from 21% and 22% (for CoNS and E. coli , respectively) to 39% (for P. aeruginosa and Candida species). In ICU patients, the crude mortality ranged from 26% and 34% (for CoNS and E. coli , respectively) to 48% and 47% (for P. aeruginosa and Candida species, respectively). In patients with polymicrobial BSIs, the crude mortality was 32%.

The mean time from hospital admission to onset of BSI due to the major pathogens ( figure 2 ) ranged from 12 days (for E. coli ) to 26 days (for A. baumannii ). Time to infection decreased with increasing age, from 26 days, in patients <1 year of age, to 16 days, in patients >65 years of age. No significant seasonal or geographical patterns could be observed for any of the organisms when different time periods and US geographical regions (northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast) were compared.

avoidance of exploitation

Reciprocity is the notion that, because one party (X) benefits another (Y), Y is obliged to benefit X in return. Reason Mentions classed under reciprocity differed as to the identity of X (participants or the host community) and of Y (the sponsor, researchers, society, the world, any host country non-participant or host country non-participants who have the same medical condition as participants). Eight of the 12 possible combinations of X and Y were mentioned. Some reciprocity Reason Mentions differed also regarding why participants/communities may be entitled to benefit, e.g. because they assumed risk ( Lie, 2000 ; Chang, 2002 ; Macpherson, 2004 ; Ashcroft, 2005 ; Merritt, 2007 ; Carse and Little, 2008 ; Sachs, 2009 ; Shah et al. , 2009 ) or were used to create benefit for mankind ( Gostin, 1991 ).


Role Reason Mentions collectively reflected conflicting views regarding various role-related obligations, powers, and limits to the powers of researchers, sponsors and governments. For example, many reasons for the view that PTA need not be ensured appealed to researchers’ or sponsors’ lack of influence on health policy or on the drug approval process. A key conflict regarded whether researchers have the same role as doctors (implying that researchers should ensure PTA) or different role (implying that researchers need not ensure PTA); reasons appealing to the purpose of research or to the relationship between researchers and participants/communities were similarly polarized.

purpose of research relationship

Although logistical obstacles were most often left unspecified, a broad range was mentioned. Such obstacles were almost without exception taken to imply that PTA need not be ensured. Concerns about the safety and/or efficacy of the trial drug were only used to argue for the view that PTA need not be ensured in specific cases or against the view that PTA should always be required.

logistical obstacles safety and/or efficacy

Fourteen non-maleficence Reason Mentions appealed to the view that participants should not be worse off after the trial, but completed ‘not be worse off after the trial than … with respect to … ’ differently. For most such Reason Mentions (11, 76%), participants should not be worse off than during the trial; for two (14%), than before it; for one (7%), than if they had not participated . For most (13, 92%), the relevant respect was health, whereas for one (7%) it was health care.


Publications endorsing 4 a narrow reason for a conclusion agreed about whether the reason was for ensuring PTA or for the view that PTA need not be ensured. The most frequently endorsed reasons 5 included ones used just for ensuring PTA ( avoid exploiting participants, participants’ health need ), and others used just to argue that PTA need not be ensured ( host community’s interests may be better served by receiving benefit other than PTA ).

Despite the lack of controlled studies, there is strong consensus that education and lifestyle modifications have a high impact in reducing recurrence of syncope.

Careful avoidance of agents that lower BP, i.e. any antihypertensive agents, nitrates, diuretics, neuroleptic antidepressants, or dopaminergic drugs, is key in the prevention of recurrence of syncope. In a small randomized trial 260 performed in 58 patients (mean age 74 ± 11 years) affected by vasodepressor reflex syncope diagnosed by tilt testing or CSM, who were taking on average 2.5 hypotensive drugs, discontinuation or reduction of the vasoactive therapy caused a reduction of the rate of the primary combined endpoint of syncope, presyncope, and adverse events from 50 to 19% (hazard ratio 0.37) compared with a control group who continued hypotensive therapy during a follow-up of 9 months. In the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, 261 patients at high cardiovascular risk who were already using antihypertensive drugs targeting a systolic BP of 120 mmHg had an approximately two-fold risk of syncope vs. the control group targeting a systolic BP of 140 mmHg. In a short-term randomized trial 262 conducted in 32 patients affected by CSS, withdrawal of vasodilator therapy reduced the magnitude of the vasodepressor reflex induced by CSM.

There is moderate evidence that discontinuation/reduction of hypotensive therapy targeting a systolic BP of 140 mmHg should be effective in reducing syncopal recurrences in patients with hypotensive susceptibility. Further research is likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate.

Isometric muscle contractions increase cardiac output and arterial BP during the phase of impending reflex syncope. Three clinical studies 119 , 120 , 263 and one prospective multicentre randomized trial 121 assessed the effectiveness of physical counter-pressure manoeuvres (PCM) of the legs or arms and showed that they allowed the patient to avoid or delay losing consciousness in most cases. In the Physical Counterpressure Manoeuvres Trial (PC-Trial), 121 223 patients aged 38 ± 15 years with recurrent reflex syncope and recognizable prodromal symptoms were randomized to receive standardized conventional therapy alone or conventional therapy plus training in PCM. Actuarial recurrence-free survival was better in the PCM group (log-rank P =0.018), resulting in a relative risk reduction of 39% (95% CI 11–53). No adverse events were reported. A limitation of this treatment is that it cannot be used in patients with short or absent prodrome and that PCM are less effective in patients older than 60 years. 264 An instruction sheet on how to perform PCM can be found in the Web Practical Instructions section 9.2.

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