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brandonpeterson
01-07-2005, 12:07 PM
Does anyone know if it's possible to use xserve in a renderfarm?
If you have been down this road your advice would be much appreciated.
thanks.
Brandon.

Ryhnio
01-09-2005, 02:54 PM
I would love to know as well-


-ryhnio

eblu
01-10-2005, 12:24 PM
umm...
i can't think of any potential gotchas. except for the normal ones.

look, the xserve is a very specially designed computer, see? it will work because its a computer, but it also won't make the renders go much faster, or have any special abilities that your desktop doesn't have.
the space saving feature of the xserve is nice, but the thing is as loud as a hurricane, slightly eating into the benefit of its form factor .

before you go out and buy an xserve as a render node, consider the following...

1. can I use a new computer? why not use the one you have as a render node, and get all new hardware for yourself
2. is space That important? remember, xserves cost some significant dough, and if you aren't seeing any benefit for the outlay, it was a bad decision.
3. are there any compelling reasons to get an xserve over everything else? with screamernet... chances are your answer to this question is no.

if your starting a network rendering service, and need space, then i can see xserves being a good idea, but for most of us, the best "new render node" is the current desktop we have. as you upgrade every few years, then your old machine joins the farm.

marble_sheep
01-10-2005, 12:30 PM
I would also like to know if it's been done. I haven't tried it, but I don't see why not. All a render node needs is to be able to access files on a network and be able to run apps remotely. So, if an xServe can do those things, it should work.

Just keep in mind that Lightwave's network rendering capabilities suck suck SUCK. It's ok for animations, but if you do any large print-resolution renders like me, then it's basically worthless. There are 3rd-party apps like Renderfarm Commander that allow all nodes to work on a single frame, but if one node goes down (as they frequently do) you are left with a hole in your image. I really hope Newtek gets their stuff together in the area of distributed computing as a solution to newtwork rendering.

/rant

eblu
01-11-2005, 03:31 PM
i suggest the new mini mac.
$499
when they say mini (6.5 inches square... 2 inches tall) they are serious.

it also comes STRIPPED down, so $499 = a good deal as far as a mac render node is concerned. for cheaper go to tiger direct, buy a BTO PC.

brayne
01-11-2005, 03:45 PM
I'm not using an actual Xserve as such, but one of my render nodes is running on a G5 using the Xserve operating system. It works fine.

Mind you, I agree with eblu. I can't wait to have a whole bank of iMac minis as a render farm!

Bruce

mlinde
01-12-2005, 08:09 AM
The benefits to an XServe(d) render farm:
I'm making a few assumptions about your "farm" -- basically you aren't just looking for a node, but a full-blown render farm (business/mission critical).
1) XServe has a failover network controller, if HW fails in one controller, it will continue to communicate data via the optional 2nd network controller.
2) XServe cluster nodes are priced equivalent to G5 towers.
3) In the space of 3 G5 towers, you can set up a rack of six Xserves.
4) With the G5 processor, 64-bit Lightwave (when available) will benefit from the additional processing capabilities
5) It gives you a coolness factor, which can, unfortunately, affect how clients view your business.
The benefits to an Mac mini render farm:
1) Bang for buck. For the price of one XServe you can get 6 Mac minis, and they take up even less space
2) Easy scalability -- unlike a rackmount, you don't have to buy a container for a specific amount of minis
3) Familiarity. The mac mini runs OS X, not server, which everyone should already be comfortable with.
4) In the space of 3 G5 towers, you can put about 12 Mac minis

eblu
01-12-2005, 09:03 AM
i'd like to add a disclaimer to mlinde's list... the failover network controller feature in the xserve... while nice, has nothing whatsoever to do with the day to day headaches you'll see from screamernet. chances are, if your network gets fried enough to use that feature, screamernet will shatter like a piece of stunt glass whipped across burt reynolds in a mid-80s car driving comedy.

similar kudos for clustering... screamernet can't do it. but it will be really cool idling in the background as screamernet sucks down all available resources on the system.

I like xserves, they don't make cost effective LW rendernodes.

Captain Obvious
01-13-2005, 04:32 AM
The benefits to an Mac mini render farm:
3) Familiarity. The mac mini runs OS X, not server, which everyone should already be comfortable with.

OS X Server is just OS X with some GUIs for the built-in network tools.

eblu
01-13-2005, 08:28 AM
boy, you really are captain obvious... just kidding. ;) c'mon, with a name like that you'd have to expect a joke or two...

um... yeah osx server is just osx with stuff welded onto it isn't it? but I do see mlinde's point there. another thing is that server 'costs' more so not only is X more familiar to you, its also more familiar to your wallet, especially if your not using those fancy front end network tools, as in a render node.

Captain Obvious
01-13-2005, 09:44 AM
boy, you really are captain obvious...

I do try. ;)

mlinde
01-13-2005, 06:07 PM
OS X Server is just OS X with some GUIs for the built-in network tools. In general this is correct. However you don't get post-fix (mail server) pre-installed & setup, mysql (pre-installed & setup), Quicktime Streaming Server, or the netboot tools.

And, the setup/installation isn't the same.

Just to nit-pick. Oh, and OS X doesn't start at $499 if you are just buying a copy...

Captain Obvious
01-14-2005, 04:26 AM
The price of the OS doesn't really matter if you're buying Xserves. ;) And you can use OS X Server as if it were ordinary OS X and never be aware of any differences.

Ade
01-27-2005, 09:34 PM
Can I just say that one g5 say a 2ghz is actually 3-4x faster than a g4 1.42ghz on its slug bus. So with this in mind how many g4's do you need to take on a g5?
BUT, space is an advantage for mac mini, I say though the mac mini should have been G5 1.6's. Why doesnt apple kill the g4 off for all it sux for 3d.
Also mac mini comes without gigabyte ethernet, will this affect speeds?
as well as its slower HD?

Captain Obvious
01-28-2005, 04:09 AM
Can I just say that one g5 say a 2ghz is actually 3-4x faster than a g4 1.42ghz on its slug bus. So with this in mind how many g4's do you need to take on a g5?

When looking at performance per clock, the G4 doesn't seem to be all that far behind the G5 (according to Blanos' benchmarks).