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Johnny
05-15-2009, 04:06 PM
I'm considering an 8-core MP and would like to learn from others how to best use those cores in rendering animations...my workflow is to render an image sequence of PSD files...

Is it always better to set up a Screamer Net and assign 1 core to a node, or to simply hit F10 and let all 8 cores blast away together?

With these new Macs, is there some flexibility to assigning cores to tasks, or does the OS "decide" how that's done? Does Lightwave?

I've been reading comments here and there that not all processes benefit from multi-core machines, so wanted to get informed on how this relates to Mac-based Lightwavers.

thank you!

Johnny

bassmanjam
05-15-2009, 05:19 PM
I'm definitely not an expert on the subject. However, I used several octo-core MP's for a render farm. I set up a node of Screamernet on each core and let it rip. I had network bottlenecks so I couldn't give you specific figures about render times and such. I output EXR sequences which are kind of big like PSD sequences. The bottlenecks in writing these to my shared output volume would significantly slow down a core here and there. For my purposes though, it was super.

It was so nice having a good 18 nodes rocking away. I did it all through command line so it was tough to keep all my terminal windows organized. - again I'm not an expert.

I wish there were more (and cheaper) options for render managers on Mac. sigh.

Read through Scazzino's super info at Dreamlight Interactive.

JonW
05-15-2009, 11:59 PM
Unless you are really good in this area of setting up Screamernet, it will take some time. It is a good idea to set SN up & get a good and tidy order to your files (PC, on gaps in file names, Mac maybe different?), you may not really need SN now (or other render farm) but you will be prepared. Its best to get organised when not in a rush! Read Matt’s PDF tutorial, its for PC but the basic principal will be the same & it does give you insight in these areas. Once you have a second computer set up as a node, any more computers you add later are really easy to do, It’s just getting going & the second computer that can test ones patience. If you have a spare old Mac just use it for the second node even if you don’t use it in the long run. By the time you have set a two computer render farm up, you will easily be able to apply the knowledge to your next or upgraded farm.

toby
05-16-2009, 01:03 AM
I'm betting that one 8core box will only be faster with screamernet/8nodes if you have enough ram for 8 copies of the scene to be loaded at once?

JonW
05-16-2009, 03:43 AM
Toby,

As you said, I’ve found LW renders faster with 8 threads on 1 frame at a time rather than 8 frames & one core ea.

If one doesn’t want the hassle or have the time. it would be wise to buy a top of the range Mac with the new 55xx CPUs (the faster the better).
.
Pre processing (radiosity) my i7 940 (OC @ 3.55 Ghz) is about 50% quicker than my E5450 V8 (3.0 Ghz), but depending on the the % of render the E5450 usually finisher first. A new pair of X5570s or W5580s (PC only) would be very nice.

The 2.26 is going to be very similar to the old top of the range model.
The 2.66 one is only going to get 15% better performance &,
The 2.93 one will get about 23% more performance over the 2.26.
If one can justify the cost then its worth it.

Johnny
05-17-2009, 05:56 PM
The 2.93 one will get about 23% more performance over the 2.26.
If one can justify the cost then its worth it.


correct me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't look like a very good boost in return for an extra $2600 US

the stock 8-core 2.26 is about $3300 US, and to upgrade to the 2.93 costs another $2600US!!

So, I spend 79% more money, yet gain a 23% boost in performance.


mmmmmmmnaw thanks..

the stock 2.26 is soundin' purty good to a guy with my wallet.

thanks for the other tips though about SN versus bringing all threads to bear on a render....

J

JonW
05-17-2009, 08:15 PM
I didn't have the money for the top of the range Mac, that's why I got the PCs. I basically do everything on the Mac, LW on the PC. Just get a i7 920 with 6 or 12 gb ram, & if you don’t want to put it together yourself get a local small computer shop to do it for you. You will have a killer box at bargain basement price. & you can keep adding cheap boxes as you need more rendering power.

Dexter2999
05-17-2009, 09:11 PM
correct me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't look like a very good boost in return for an extra $2600 US

the stock 8-core 2.26 is about $3300 US, and to upgrade to the 2.93 costs another $2600US!!

So, I spend 79% more money, yet gain a 23% boost in performance.


mmmmmmmnaw thanks..

the stock 2.26 is soundin' purty good to a guy with my wallet.

thanks for the other tips though about SN versus bringing all threads to bear on a render....

J

That extra jump in price is the cost of bragging rights. A rule of thumb a friend taught me about stereos 20 years ago, I found applies to most electronics.
Find the top of the line and then go down one step to get the best "bang for the buck".

JonW
05-18-2009, 01:07 AM
Dexter,

I partly agree, or actually agree a lot in this situation.
But with computers, with LW its all about “Ghz”, where not talking about word processing or even Photoshop. My old Dual 533 does PS really well & I am working with 1 gb files for photomontages, I just allocate 90% of my ram to PS & I have a dedicated scratch disk.


The reality is one must look at the numbers, 3d rendering is all about Ghz. One can’t look at the just the price of the CPUs, you need to look at the whole set up, including OS. If you render on a Mac or PC it just doesn’t matter, or XP or Vista for that matter.

For the cheap Mac it’s $365/Ghz, for the expensive Mac it’s $503/per Ghz. Ok, its dearer but its not the end of the world & if one has a stack of work it is most likely a good investment.

Likewise when I got my E5450 V8 it was the cheapest CPU per whole box set up, I would have got the 3.16Ghz at the time but it was dearer for the whole box, & I was also looking at cheap render boxes in the near future (i7 920s).

One can do it all on the Mac & render on some cheap PC boxes, all they need is a fast CPU & enough ram, you don’t even need a graphics card once set up with SN & virtual desktop.

Or.... Most monitors have a second connection, use this for the PC, or get a cheap monitor, one will only be using it for setting up the render, I use a 30” & 24” Dell for the real work & a AU$179 Asus for sending off frames to be rendered on very cheap CPU boxes with absolutely no redeeming features, eg iCute cases.

The 920 is a killer CPU, just use it for rendering!

http://www.3dspeedmachine.com/?page=3&scene=39

eblu
05-18-2009, 07:49 AM
threads vs. nodes...
since the jump to UB, screamernet has basically had the same performance with both. the differences are negligible.
what IS telling though, is that if you use 8 instances of screamernet instead of 8 threads, you use 8 times more resources. you read/write 8 times more files, you use 8 times more ram, etc...

so with both approaches being roughly the same, I'd say go with threading.

Dexter2999
05-18-2009, 08:04 AM
Dexter,

I partly agree, or actually agree a lot in this situation.
But with computers, with LW its all about ďGhzĒ, where not talking about word processing or even Photoshop. My old Dual 533 does PS really well & I am working with 1 gb files for photomontages, I just allocate 90% of my ram to PS & I have a dedicated scratch disk.


The reality is one must look at the numbers, 3d rendering is all about Ghz. One canít look at the just the price of the CPUs, you need to look at the whole set up, including OS. If you render on a Mac or PC it just doesnít matter, or XP or Vista for that matter.

For the cheap Mac itís $365/Ghz, for the expensive Mac itís $503/per Ghz. Ok, its dearer but its not the end of the world & if one has a stack of work it is most likely a good investment.

Likewise when I got my E5450 V8 it was the cheapest CPU per whole box set up, I would have got the 3.16Ghz at the time but it was dearer for the whole box, & I was also looking at cheap render boxes in the near future (i7 920s).

One can do it all on the Mac & render on some cheap PC boxes, all they need is a fast CPU & enough ram, you donít even need a graphics card once set up with SN & virtual desktop.

Or.... Most monitors have a second connection, use this for the PC, or get a cheap monitor, one will only be using it for setting up the render, I use a 30Ē & 24Ē Dell for the real work & a AU$179 Asus for sending off frames to be rendered on very cheap CPU boxes with absolutely no redeeming features, eg iCute cases.

The 920 is a killer CPU, just use it for rendering!

http://www.3dspeedmachine.com/?page=3&scene=39

Oh, I know it's about the Ghz. But for that price jump to get the bleeding edge chips, $2600, you could buy another Quad core MacPro machine running 2.66 Ghz. So instead of 8 cores at 2.9, you would have 12 at 2.66.

Or you could buy a couple of PC's to use as a render farm running 2.93Ghz Quad cores but at 64bit.

Unless you are billing for those extra Ghz. The investment rarely is justified financially. It is completely justified when you feel that adrenaline rush like a kid on Christmas but I can't sell that to my boss.

Johnny
05-18-2009, 08:09 AM
well, would one of the new quad-cores be a lousy choice? A quad-core 2.66 for about $600 less than an 8-core 2.26?

Bare feats published an article which indicated that 8 cores weren't twice as fast as 4 and in a couple of tests were negligibly faster, or even slower! maybe it's different in 3D rendering/modelling?

Or maybe I should just hold out for a nehelem MP to show up on the apple refurb site...


J

Johnny
05-18-2009, 02:34 PM
The reality is one must look at the numbers, 3d rendering is all about Ghz.



Then would it be true to say that a C2D 3.06 Ghz iMac would not be a bad machine?

Not 4 or 8 cores perhaps..but... the 2 cores it DOES have are not too shabby?

J

Dexter2999
05-18-2009, 02:49 PM
In reality it's about being realistic about your needs and getting the best tool to help you get your work done.
Money is certainly an issue. If money is no object get the tricked out 8 Core MacPro. It's a really nice machine.
If you are on a budget give a good hard look at if you will find increase in your work flow from that bump in Ghz from .66 to .99 (x8) or would your overall workflow speed up if you had a 30" monitor? Could you benefit more by spending that $2600 on a multipass render manager and a Third party Preview renderer like FPrime? The control different passes gives you could save you from having to re-render something. For $2600, you could buy FinalCut Studio for , or SHAKE, or Combustion for finishing your project. You could get a RAID array for storage of all those files you are going to generate in multipass rendering.

Personally I think there are better places to spend that kind of money instead of tricking out a machine. But I'm not the one buying a machine and I don't know what YOUR needs are.

4dartist
05-18-2009, 03:49 PM
I usually render on 3 open Lightwave's at once, on my 8core Macpro. I will work most of the day with 1 LW rendering then, before I go home I start the other 2 copies rendering. It's almost exactly 1/3 the speed per LW for 3 going at once, it's really good about that. I like to have all 3 rendering at once instead of some render cue because I can start comping the frames and make sure it's going to look right.

I'm not very good at screamernet but I think even if I was I doubt I would be using it... Not sure. Just never found that perfect render utility. This way is working perfect for now.

bassmanjam
05-18-2009, 04:30 PM
Or you could buy a couple of PC's to use as a render farm running 2.93Ghz Quad cores but at 64bit.



Is anybody doing this? With Core supposedly being Linux friendly as well, I'm tempted to set up a some Linux boxes for rendering when the time comes.

I just can't keep up with Macs. There's no way I can stay on top of the current technology at that cost. I want a decent spec Mac as my main machine and speedy, stripped down render machines that I can stick in the closet (with proper ventilation).

It took me long enough to figure out ScreamerNet on the Mac. I don't know if I could figure out how to set it up between different operating systems...

Johnny
05-20-2009, 12:15 PM
It took me long enough to figure out ScreamerNet on the Mac. I don't know if I could figure out how to set it up between different operating systems...

I can certainly understand that, but what experience do you think you'll have setting up in linux or windows?

J

aidenvfx
05-20-2009, 07:00 PM
well, would one of the new quad-cores be a lousy choice? A quad-core 2.66 for about $600 less than an 8-core 2.26?

Bare feats published an article which indicated that 8 cores weren't twice as fast as 4 and in a couple of tests were negligibly faster, or even slower! maybe it's different in 3D rendering/modelling?

Or maybe I should just hold out for a nehelem MP to show up on the apple refurb site...


J

That is what I just bought. I have had it about 2 weeks now. Overall I have found it works very well. Also with the new i7's while it is a quad core it has 8 threads so the same as an old 8 core MAC Pro (according to others who are smarter then myself)

Johnny
05-20-2009, 07:35 PM
you're saying a quad-core 2.66 has 8 threads? I remember reading something about the i7s sort of behaving that way...couldn't figure out why they'd say "sort of."

then an 8-core machine gives 16?


hmmm...

J

JonW
05-21-2009, 08:48 AM
I have an E5450 V8 16gb, E5335 V8 12gb, 940 (3.55Ghz) 12gb & 920 (3.15Ghz) 12gb. My 940 does Radiosity about 30% faster than the E5450 but the E5450 usually finishes a render about 20% sooner than the 940 depending on the ratio of radiosity to render.

The i7, 55xx & 35xx CPUs are very fast. If most of ones work is single large images then a V8 would be the go. If it is animations a few nodes would probably be more economical. Just depends on ones budget. You need to add up how many Ghz you get per box.

The i7 does use 8 threads but the extra 4 threads are probably giving you about 20% extra performance, a new 55xx V8 will run as 16 threads but those extra 8 threads will still only give you about 20% more performance on the first 8 threads but you will have 2 CPUs instead of 1, so you renders will be twice as quick for the same processor speed.

If you already have an E5450 a new E5520 will be roughly the same speed. If you have the very top of the range 54xx its possibly faster than a E5520. Unless you need some more processing power now I’d wait till later this year but more likely next year for the 6 core 12 thread CPUs.

Johnny
05-21-2009, 09:28 AM
If most of ones work is single large images then a V8 would be the go. If it is animations a few nodes would probably be more economical. Just depends on ones budget. You need to add up how many Ghz you get per box. this year but more likely next year for the 6 core 12 thread CPUs.


some here were saying that the # of threads seemed to them more important than having lots of nodes...

obviously, in a real render farm, that wouldn't be the case, but I"m just a guy doing his own art and trying to produce my works in a timely manner.

I appreciate yours and other specs this and numbers that, and my head spins when I look at it.


I guess I don't do single large images, but animations..I'm interested in making films... not that I wouldn't like to be ABLE to do single large renders if a client wanted that... who am I to turn down the dough that can pay for all of this!:

;-)


J

JonW
05-21-2009, 06:35 PM
I have found that the number of threads should be the same as the number of cores, but the i7 & x5xx need 8 threads.

As I said elsewhere I use a Mac for most things but for LW I use PCs 98% of the time. I am not pushing PCs & it may be better to keep everything Mac if you have a lot of plugins.

If you are leaning towards animations you only need in most respects a cheap computer. Fast CPU (920 are ideal) enough ram to run 2 instances of LW so with an i7 12gb ram would be better. You only need a small hard drive, & cheap (really cheap or on board graphics) graphics card, once set up you donít even need the graphics card if you are using Screamernet & Remote Desktop.

If you do everything on the Mac, Internet etc, & only use the PCs for rendering you donít need any anti virus software. Iíve been running networked PCs & Mac for over a decade & have never had a problem, & if the day ever eventuates I will worry about it then.

If you are going to use the computer for other stuff then obviously upgrade the parts. But the point is for animations is to have, say, half a dozen extremely extremely cheap stripped down boxes with absolutely no redeeming features of any kind (I hope this is clear!), rather than say a couple of really expensive boxes, because all you are after is lots of ďGhzĒ & enough ram. Expensive boxes are not going to produce any more frames per hour. You need as many Ghz per $ you can buy. As you get more work you just add a few more bare bones boxes to the network for more render nodes.

A side issue, think about a really good UPS, if you donít have one for all your computers at least get one for the server, your main computer. Iíve got an MGE 3kva with an extra battery, it will run the main computer for 2.5 hours or everything for 30 minutes, unfortunately I get a lot of blackouts.

Johnny
05-21-2009, 07:10 PM
thank you again, Jon....lots more good information...

I guess those are your boxes in the closet you mentioned?

J