View Full Version : PC Specs for a Render Farm

06-22-2007, 05:19 PM
Hello All,

This is my first post, so please be kind. I am a Network Engineer that has been asked to help implement a Rendering Farm. Excuse my ignorance, but I am a complete newbie to LW and ScreamerNet. I searched the forums before asking the questions but did not find what I was looking for.

1. I wanted to see if a P4-2.8Ghz computer with 512MB-1GB of RAM will suffice for a rendering node? I plan to use 5-10 computers with the same specs to setup the Rendering Farm.
2. I wanted to keep the cost down and run all of the nodes on Linux and use Wine to run ScreamerNet, but it seems like too much of a hassle. The artists computer is running XP 64, but the nodes will be running XP Pro, will that pose a problem?
3. I have read some info that network speed is not crucial and some that state that it is. I plan to setup a GB network if needed.
4. How many nodes, at the PC specs above would be sufficient for a single artist to use, rendering very large textured images or video? His current render has been running 24/7 for 2 weeks on a very high end system.

Thanks for any input on these questions!!! If I have missed some threads on the questions, please point me in the right direction. Thanks again for your time!!!


06-25-2007, 01:11 PM
I use mule, it has easy setup. go to there website and wacth there setup tut's

06-25-2007, 04:18 PM
Check out Amleto (I give it 12 stars out of 5!!! and 6 thumbs up) at


it uses IP protocol and has auto config along with three ways of communicating. I have found that it is very easy to use, very reliable and with an HTML interface it is quite easy to keep track of progress. The price is reasonable.

I do not know about the XP 64 issue but in general it is not a good idea to mix processors. I do cloud animations for my weather broadcasts using LW and a plugin that creates the cloud volumes using procedural textures. Different processors implement pseudo-random number generation, (important in procedural textures) slightly differently and frame jumps occur using different processors. The problem is you never know when a LW plugin will rely on rounding, pseudo-random numbers etc. If processors differ the results can be a disaster.

In my work, I have found though that Celerons, Xeons and P4s work well together but PIIIs will yield different render results.

From your description, as long as Amelto will run in 32 bit mode under XP64, and as long as you use the XP 64 machine as a server only, and have all rendering done on the other machines with identical specs, there should be no problem at all. In fact your artists will benefit too because if there is no render load on the XP64 machine because it is acting as a traffic cop their work flow will not be affected.

In fact I think you will be quite pleased. For example I recently rendered a 300 frame cloud animation on a Dual Proc Xeon 2.66GHz, blew out all background processes I could, and it was 5 days (24/7) of intense rendering and the computer would barely do anything else.

Using 2-P4 2.8GHz machines, a P4 1.7GHz laptop, a Celeron 2.0GHz and my Dual Xeon 2.66GHz (as both client and server) the render took less than 24 hours.

If you can set up even 5 nodes your artists will be amazed at the decrease in render time, but the more the merrier.

If you use the company network you may benefit from a GB setup, but because I am using a peer-to-peer network that does nothing other than internet access and render farming I would not benefit from the GB set up.

Amletos's manual explains how the three options so you can optimize your resources.

I hope this helped.

Steve Horstmeyer

06-25-2007, 10:14 PM
how many artists are you responsible for? the advice above is very solid regarding the render nodes. another competitive render manager is:

ButterFlyNet Render (http://www.liquiddreamsolutions.com/)

(keep in mind that the different render managers all do the same thing essentially: use screamernet. if you have programmers or are yourself, a render manager might not be necessary)

06-26-2007, 03:22 AM
Hi Igogusto,
512meg of ram isn't enough. Absolute minimum is 1 gig these days and I would also advise you to get leave room on the motherboard for another gig one day.

Butterfly NetRender is wonderfully simple, reliable and effective here. Gigabit networking is just fine. With ten computers, you can still use a normal version of Windows on your server. Over ten you'll need Server2003 or Linux etc. My advice; get it running on Windows to start with.

I have ten nodes here for my own personal use and it feels very, very comfortable. I cannot keep them busy all the time, but when I really need grunt, then ten is fab!!!
Dave Tracey

06-26-2007, 04:51 PM
Thanks for all of the input!

Moosedog - answer to your question, 1 artist.