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DC777
07-26-2005, 07:51 PM
Hello all,
I am looking to build a 20-30 computer render farm, does anybody have any good resources concerning this? Can anybody suggest a Network Render Program? It will be PC based. Currently using Lightwave 8.3

Thank you all,

DC

Bushmsn
07-26-2005, 11:08 PM
Check out mule I have not used it myself. But I here it makes network rendering a breeze with little or no setup for the files.

http://www.epicsoft.net/products/mule/

Hoopti
07-28-2005, 06:57 AM
I use Butterfly Net Renderer as my render farm manager. With the addition of the renderme3.p plugin, it allows users using the farm to remotely send the files directly to the farm, and check on the results and que. Very easy to setup and keep updated. Support is awesome. It can also be setup to work with more than just LW as well.

Hoop

Limbus
07-28-2005, 08:51 AM
I have used Smedge from Überware. Very easy to set up and it can controll almost every software out there.

fabmedia
08-01-2005, 12:26 PM
I use Renderfarm Commander. It makes rendering on multiple machines completely idiot proof. Mind you, it's for the Mac, but has recently implemented the control of PC machines. The nice thing about it is that you tell it where everything is (preferences and the content directory) and it builds the LSWN command files directly for you. You start your nodes and then get RfC to load the scene, hit go, and presto... your rock'n.

BTW, you don't need a powerhouse mac to do it either, just enough to run the program to control the nodes.

beverins
08-01-2005, 01:57 PM
I'm a great fan of Butterfly Net, its a very robust program, and the price is reasonable. Fairly easy to set up too... though if problems do arise it can be somewhat tricky to troubleshoot since its error messages aren't the most forthcoming. Its pretty **** hard to crash this system though, and believe me I've tried.

Lightwolf
08-01-2005, 02:25 PM
I've been using the (now) free Spider for the past five or six years.

I adivse you to set-up one or two machines for practice (whatever controller you intend to use) and then the other ones. We also run LW from our server, which makes upgrades a breeze.
Right now I can set-up a render node in about 30 minutes, including the OS installation (which takes up 29 of those 30 minutes ;) ).

Cheers,
Mike

Mr. Black
08-02-2005, 09:26 AM
Sounds like no ones using Screamernet. Are these other programs that much easier?
Jeff

Lightwolf
08-02-2005, 09:28 AM
Sounds like no ones using Screamernet. Are these other programs that much easier?
Jeff
Absolutely. Especially since using the native screamernet you'd have to start the remote nodes manually, and you can't change content directories easily...

Cheers,
Mike

Karmacop
08-02-2005, 09:51 AM
How do these people write screamernet controllers? It's something I've been thinking about and I was just wondering if there's any information on how to control it.

Lightwolf
08-02-2005, 10:00 AM
Well, there are basically two ways to control lwsn:

lwsn -3 which is a batch command line rendering mode. Spider uses that for example.
In this case just type in lwsn in your shell (PC, right?) in the lw/programs directory and have a look at the options.

The other method is lwsn -2, which starts lwsn and it will then expect certain files to communicate with the controller. Through these files the controller sends commands to lwsn (like change content, load scene, render frame) while lwsn will send back status messages.

I actually don't have the exact documentation on that the contents of those files should be... I think is was part of the SDK ages ago and probably communicated on the plugins mailing list.

Cheers,
Mike

Karmacop
08-02-2005, 11:34 AM
Great, thanks for your help. At least I know where to start now :)

archiea
08-02-2005, 06:55 PM
Mule sounds great.. but if you have a mac render farm...

I have a PC, just to make sure that my Battlefield 2 skills doesn't waste. Can that be used to run the mac render farm?

DC777
08-04-2005, 09:47 PM
I have looked into MULE and sorts great suggestion!.. any hardware suggestions? for example....how to build the array? or OS setup? or Do they all have to have keyboards and OS to boot? I guess these are other major questions still pending. Thank you all so far for your input!

Red_Oddity
08-05-2005, 03:37 AM
We use Muster, it's available both for Mac and PC and can manage pretty much everything...
http://www.vvertex.com

I also found this one, Deadline, from FranticFilms, which looks very promosing, but never tried it...
http://software.franticfilms.com/index.aspx?page=deadline

Lightwolf
08-05-2005, 03:56 AM
I have looked into MULE and sorts great suggestion!.. any hardware suggestions? for example....how to build the array? or OS setup? or Do they all have to have keyboards and OS to boot? I guess these are other major questions still pending. Thank you all so far for your input!
Currently I'd get dual core AMDs as the render node, they seem to have the best price/performance. You might want to look at dual opteron solutions as well... Basically, try to estimate the rendering performance of such as system (www.blanos.com can help a lot) and weigh that against the cost of the complete set-up. Make a chart and find the sweet spot, i.e. render speed per dollar or something like that.

As for the Array, make it Raid-5 or Raid-6 with a spare drive, you don't want to risk loosing data. SATA is great, but be aware of the fact that the drives aren't quite as reliable as the priviers SCSI drives (there are special raid SATA drives coming out right now though). If you want high performance, make the network gigabit and may be install a dual intel NIC on the server (that allows you to aggregate both NICs to one, effectively doubling the speed from the server to the switch), or get a server board with dual NICs. Since you're talking 20-30 nodes, this can make a difference....
Processor performance on the server is no issue really, since all it does is i/o. Get a server board though, with PCI-X slots.

For the nodes: You will need one OS license per node, obviously. A small hd and cheapo gfx board will suffice. Try to get the highest capacity memory modules that make sense, so you have DIMM slots free and may expand later on. Don't worry about upgradeability of the processor in your farm. Once you reach that stage, your likely to be better off getting new boards and CPUs anyhow.
Good PSUs and cases are a must, be aware of cooling. You're talking 20-30 nodes that are likely to drain 100 Watts of power each and will also produce an appropriate amount of heat.
No need for a keyboard, mouse or monitor per node, but do get a decent KVM switch for that (a software only solution like VNC is o.k. once the nodes run, but as long as you set-up, need to re-boot, access the bios etc... you need a KVM).

Depending on your budget you might want to look into getting Blades as an alternative. They are more expensive, but use less space.

Yes, you can spend a _lot_ of time doing research for a farm (or for any computer that is).

Cheers,
Mike

Bushmsn
08-05-2005, 09:25 AM
Hello, watch the video at there web site I thing the network is a simple network. all you need for the render farm computers are motherboard, lots of Ram, video card, onboard video may be ok, And as far as the keyboard it is up to you if administer you system from the main computer then you don't need them for each computer, Hard drive, powers suppl, ethernet card, Router.

Bushmsn
08-05-2005, 09:27 AM
I have noclue how this posted here it is not the post I was replying to.

Bushmsn
08-05-2005, 09:28 AM
Oh second page Ha HA

DC777
08-24-2005, 08:40 PM
Lightwolf

Thank you for your information. It has proven very valuable. We are testing different render farm solutions thus far, MULE has worked great and we are using current computers on the network after hours for the crunching, we stil need a Farm resolution. I was thinking some sort of rackmountable situation like you suggested. I will keep you posted on progress!

Thanks again

DC

Lightwolf
08-25-2005, 03:23 AM
Lightwolf

Thank you for your information. It has proven very valuable.
You're welcome. If you need any more help, just post...

Cheers,
Mike

JML
08-25-2005, 07:11 AM
we use tequila scream here, it works great and good price/quality ratio.

butterflynetrender looks nice too , and so does mule.

it would be nice if newtek would buy one of those and include it in LW..

gstonebank
08-25-2005, 07:49 AM
I have used tequilascream for a few years & had no problems. I like that you don't pay for nodes, only for the controller. Only seems to get updated when it has to ie new version of LW.

DC777
08-26-2005, 02:29 PM
Lightwolf,

We are looking into blade solutions. Most effective for space and cooling. We also can build our own blade if we choose. We have looked into Extremenode.com and Rackmount.com they offer some solutions any thoughts on comparison systems and horsepower. Do we build for dual chip dual core support, and just pop in a new processor as we scale up. What do you think about the leasing factor? Let me know some thoughts if you can.. Thanks again.

DC777

Lightwolf
08-27-2005, 03:28 AM
Hi DC777.

I wouldn't bother thinking about upgrading the processors, except maybe starting with single core and then moving on to dual core later on.

I think it makes more sense to get less boxes, but have them maxed out processor wise (always thinking of price vs. performance, you're probably better off with processors that are a couple of steps below the current high end of the range). RAM is easily and cheaply plunked in, processors aren't. Less boxes also means less administration work which is always a good thing.

Cheers,
Mike

Riplakish
08-27-2005, 06:53 AM
Well, there are basically two ways to control lwsn:

I actually don't have the exact documentation on that the contents of those files should be... I think is was part of the SDK ages ago and probably communicated on the plugins mailing list.

Cheers,
Mike

Someone was nice enough to send this to me when I asked this exact question a couple of years ago, so I figured it'd only be fair to send it back along, since I don't think anyone has yet.

-R

Lightwolf
08-27-2005, 06:58 AM
Someone was nice enough to send this to me when I asked this exact question a couple of years ago, so I figured it'd only be fair to send it back along, since I don't think anyone has yet.

Bingo, thanks.
I think it was extended after that (change of content directory for example)...

This is a good start though.

Cheers,
Mike

Lightwolf
08-27-2005, 07:02 AM
We have looked into Extremenode.com and Rackmount.com they offer some solutions any thoughts on comparison systems and horsepower.
I just checked those links. Hehe, neat stuff, Blades with standard ATX motherboards...
However, they seem to only support single CPU motherboards... I think you're better off with "real" dual CPU blades ... or 1U cases and dual boards.

Edit: O.k., single Opteron only, but dual Xeons (weird...) then again, the apparently are working on a dual Opteron compatible chassis...

Cheers,
Mike

DC777
08-27-2005, 04:40 PM
That's what I thought, no dual Operton, however, we were thinking of
scaling it back to take a P4 2.8 and a basic motherboard as 1 blade...this way we could get more nodes, however the recomendation is that 2 seperate CPU nodes will render faster than a Dual CPU motherboard Node, and also render faster than a Dual Core node... Any thoughts?

DC777

Lightwolf
08-29-2005, 02:24 AM
... however the recomendation is that 2 seperate CPU nodes will render faster than a Dual CPU motherboard Node, and also render faster than a Dual Core node... Any thoughts?

That depends really (as I said, prive vs. performance ... if a dual CPU solution costs 50% more on the complete system, but renders 60% faster then it is worth it).
We only use dual CPUs here. For simple, low memory threads we can run one lwsn task per CPU, giving us almost full speed, on high memory scenes we can multi-thread, still giving us a much higher performance than a single CPU, but now quite as much as two set-ups. (We use spider which allows you to set a scene as multi-threaded or not).
Remember, price vs. performance also includes RAM etc. And once you need to buy 2GB of RAM per node duals can be comparatively(sp?) cheap. Or at leats dual cores, which make a lot of sense at the moment (those dual Opterons are a tad expensive imho).
Also, I'm not sure if a P4 2.8 is a good deal if you add up up the prices for the other components.
Cheers,
Mike