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phunkidude
05-23-2006, 09:23 AM
Hi
I am considering building a small renderfarm probably consisting of 3 machines. I currently use a G5 Mac but will probably use 3 XP PC's for the renderfarm as they are cheap to build from scratch. I have a few questions which if anybody can answer, will make me very grateful:

1. Are there any compatibility issues between working on a Mac and using PC's to render out? I'm thinking plug-ins like FPrime etc.

2. When building the PC's, should I concentrate on the GPU cards or CPU/RAM?

3. If CPU is more important, would a Dual Core make a huge difference? If GPU's are more important, can anybody recommend fast but reasonably priced ones?

4. Given that LW seems to have a 2gb RAM limit (on the Mac it seems to), I figure that about 1gb of RAM would be enough for each machine. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks for any answers plus please feel free to comment on any other aspects of this. I would be very interested to hear from others who have replicated such a system.

Sean

manproof
05-23-2006, 10:32 AM
"1. Are there any compatibility issues between working on a Mac and using PC's to render out? I'm thinking plug-ins like FPrime etc."

From everything that I've read, using both Mac and PC should work fine.
Plugins will probably give you mixed results. For instance, Worley states the following on their site:

"FPrime runs only within LightWave Layout. There is currently no Screamernet-like, FPrime-engine-based, network rendering system."

I haven't heard of any workaround for this, however if you are using a lot of plugins you may want to avoid FPrime as a final renderer, as there are a number of plugins that FPrime itself doesn't support.

phunkidude
05-23-2006, 10:45 AM
Thanks, I had a feeling that FPrime didn't support ScreamerNet. I'd be interested to know if people use other third party renderers that do distribute over ScreamerNet.

lesford
05-23-2006, 11:03 AM
I have been looking at this myself, and have many of the same questions. I asked Bruce Rayne (Renderfarm Commander) about the Mac/XP thing. He said that Renderfarm Commander can control the XP nodes, but that, unlike Mac nodes, they would have to be set up manually.

I asked about the linearity of speed increase with a quad G5 and he replied that if you run a separate Screamernet instance for each core, the speed increase per core is linear. Each core runs at 100 percent. This got me thinking that the Quad G5 could be a renderfarm in a box. Viewed this way, the cost is not prohibitive compared to four XP boxes, and the noise and power consumption factor would be greatly reduced, as well as setup being greatly simplified through Renderfarm Commander.

Les Ford

ercaxus
05-23-2006, 01:36 PM
2. When building the PC's, should I concentrate on the GPU cards or CPU/RAM?

You don't need gpu power for render nodes.

phunkidude
05-23-2006, 02:52 PM
You don't need gpu power for render nodes.

ercaxus,
could you expand on this a little? Does the GPU have no effect whatsover? Would I even need cards in the PC?

Earl
05-23-2006, 03:04 PM
ercaxus,
could you expand on this a little? Does the GPU have no effect whatsover? Would I even need cards in the PC?
The GPU simply accelerates the realtime display of 3D objects. It does not affect ray-traced render times at all. So a renderfarm can use a basic graphics processor - it would probably be cheapest to use one embedded on the motherboard (if you choose a motherboard with an embedded display adapter).

The most important components to a renderfarm are the CPU and RAM.

ercaxus
05-23-2006, 03:08 PM
Your graphics card doesn't help with render speed. It helps with display and user interface speed/responsiveness.
You can find a motherboad with an onboard graphics chip. Since you won't be needing any OpenGL rendering capabilities (not in LW at the moment) there's no point in getting a high end graphics card. After you install the operating system you shouldn't even be using those computers directly, so they are not even going to need monitors :)

Earl was faster :)

phunkidude
05-23-2006, 03:11 PM
Thanks guys! Any thoughts on Dual Core and how much RAM?

ercaxus
05-23-2006, 03:12 PM
Thanks guys! Any thoughts on Dual Core and how much RAM?
As much of those things as possible. :)

Speedmonk42
05-23-2006, 09:06 PM
Thanks guys! Any thoughts on Dual Core and how much RAM?

I read, on this site, somewhere that not all dual cores are created equal.

THat is the core-duo, laptop thinies are a lot better than the Pentium-D or something to that extent.

If you are going to go with the desktop Dual Core, you want AMD X2.

I might have that wrong....can someone reaffirm that?

phunkidude
05-24-2006, 05:52 AM
Everywhere I look everybody recommends the X2 so I reckon that seems to be the way to go.
Any thoughts on Windows 2000 over XP given the sort of overheads that XP demands on a system? Also, has anybody ever had any experience with this:

http://software.franticfilms.com/index.aspx?page=deadline

phunkidude
01-08-2007, 10:11 AM
Hi,
I haven't gotten around to building this yet and I have a few more questions. I am looking at Bruce Rayne's Renderfarm Controller and Jon Baker's ScreamerNet Controller for Mac OS X. They both seem to do the same thing unless I'm mistaken yet some people like to use both. Can anybody who has both give me some idea of the benefits of one over the other.
I am also curious to know what OS people use for their Renderfarms. From my posts above you can see that I was initially considering XP but now I'm thinking Linux might be better.
Any comments/advice much appreciated.

Sean

phunkidude
01-09-2007, 07:49 AM
Here is what I've specced so far:

Hardware:
HP ProLiant DL145 G2
• 2.0GHz AMD Opteron 246 Processor
• 2-Way
• 1GB RAM
• 80GB Hard Drive
• DVD-ROM
• 10/100/1000 Ethernet

wavk
01-09-2007, 11:02 AM
huh? x2? the intel core 2 duo are better.
amd was king for a long time but with the new core 2 duo cpu's intel took the lead again and which is really well know in the community by now..

the 6600 core 2 duo is currently the best cpu to buy in terms of speed/price.


mlon

jbingaman
01-10-2007, 08:26 AM
I recently helped Mark here at our shop set up a renderfarm using

5 dualcore xp pro laptops (maybe 2.8's or something) w/ 1g ram
1 macbook pro booted to windows that was the controller and target drive
1 1gig hub
1 small time router for ip's

the macbook ran screamernet and he had to have lightwave open in the background for the plugins (he had a seperate config file - will ask him). then all it did was control the 5 nodes. the overall render took a mere 35 hrs instead of 4 days on the original g5 system.

I'll have to ask Mark to bounce in here and share his thoughts, but the reason for the post is to mention that the nodes need to be MATCHED cpus, as we've discovered (and read). Different cpu's calculate renders differently and can effect the end result (ie one frame can look different from the next depending on which node created it).

J

phunkidude
01-10-2007, 08:55 AM
Guys,
does it matter whether the nodes are Linux or Windows?
I was under the impression that they only ran ScreamerNet which is a terminal app. no?
The controller would be a mac running Renderfarm Commander.
Thanks for all your continued advice.

avkills
01-10-2007, 09:19 AM
Personally, I think that mixing and matching CPUs and OSs is just going to make a headache for yourself in the long run. The way Windows and OS X handles drives, directories and networking is different.

Since the UB press release, I would personally wait until that is released and what the render times are compared to Windows. Right now Windows renders a lot faster than OS X, but the UB is suppose to give render optimizations across the board for PPC and Intel on Mac systems.

If you use procedural textures, then mixing CPUs will result in different patterns, the same goes with different LW versions.

If you do end up getting Window based nodes, then you will want to render on them, and not at all on the Mac.

-mark

Bog
01-11-2007, 03:09 PM
Can I ask why the frak you've set up a renderfarm with laptops, jbingaman? The devices with the highest price-per-component and the worst heat-disspation you could possibly acheive?

If you had a pile of laptops lying around anyway, then woah yay frosty. If you bought them specially... well... I love you man, you're a fellow waver. But tovarishch, you be crazy mad.

kopperdrake
01-11-2007, 03:32 PM
I believe he had a pile of 50 to choose from, if my memory serves me well?

Talk about getting your hands into the sweet jar :D

Bog
01-11-2007, 03:54 PM
I believe he had a pile of 50 to choose from, if my memory serves me well?

Talk about getting your hands into the sweet jar :D


Well, if you got lots o'cookies, it's time to make cookie-ice-cream-sammiches with the ice-cream of sweet rendearables!

T-Light
01-11-2007, 05:51 PM
Bog -

Well, if you got lots o'cookies, it's time to make cookie-ice-cream-sammiches with the ice-cream of sweet rendearables!
A cookie Ice cream sandwich???

It may not have ocuured to you, but the lord but Bog is a bit MAD, ice cream cookies are reserved for the LW 'IT' crowd that have unfortunately been affected by MADnesss.ssSxSSfGS

Make of it what you will!

Those of us with accute mental awareness would of course inform you that Tuna cookies are the way to go. In fact tuna +crab + Xmas fruit cake coated with covoussier is the ultimate solid beverage in time's of need :D

I wish you well.

jbingaman
01-11-2007, 07:28 PM
I believe he had a pile of 50 to choose from, if my memory serves me well?

Talk about getting your hands into the sweet jar :D

Yup! But only when everything is in town. We work at a production company and 'borrowed' the laptops from IT when it was set up at the office. Then Mark took everything home and rendered it there (he mentioned his kitchen WAS pretty warm tho LOL)

I sometimes rarely get to see Mark, as he's on the road a lot and I'm just the fledging disciple :thumbsup: taking care of the denver stuff, but when it's quiet we get to play and think up stuff for intros and opener vids for upcoming shows.


Those of us with accute mental awareness would of course inform you that Tuna cookies are the way to go. In fact tuna +crab + Xmas fruit cake coated with covoussier is the ultimate solid beverage in time's of need

Dude. That's just wrong. I have GOT to try that with the remaining fruit cake! :bowdown:

avkills
01-11-2007, 07:41 PM
What Jay said. ;)

Besides, 5 laptops are a **** of lot easier to pack in the car than 5 desktops + monitors.

Not to mention the laptops have Core 2s in them, which is the same CPU as my MacBookPro, you know, keeping it all the same and such that is recommended for renderfarms.

We've been getting quite the snow here in Colorado, and my car is one that does not function in snow....but I can easily work from home.

-mark

avkills
01-11-2007, 07:43 PM
I might add that if I decide to make my own render farm, it will be with either Mac Minis (or 1 8 core MacPro) or real cheap Core 2 Duo motherboards and my insane idea of running more than one of them off the same power supply. :D

-mark