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parallax
09-07-2005, 01:42 PM
We are looking into building a small renderfarm for faster then real-time encoding in Apple Compressor, but i'm stumped about the lack of option.
The Bossman would like to build one using macmini's, but of course this offers extremely little bang for buck, compared to a string of el-cheapo PC's. But unfortunately, Compressor is OS-X only, so i'm stuck with Apple.
Other apps that should be able to use the nodes are After Effects, Lightwave and maybe Shake. If the Compressor/Apple option turns out to be 10x as expensive as an alternative that doesn't run Compressor but something similar, i *might* be able to convince him to build a Windows/Linux farm.

The thing is, We are running FCP, so without compressor, it would take an extra step between editing and encoding.

Any thoughts?

enygma
09-07-2005, 04:18 PM
Have you taken a look at pricing on XServe cluster nodes? There are rumors that there may be XServe updates soon floating around, but you can pick up a dual 2.3GHz G5 cluster node for $2999.

parallax
09-08-2005, 07:38 AM
yeah i know, but those are waaay to expensive. I can build 4 PC's for that price that will outperform it at almost everything.

beaker
09-08-2005, 10:07 AM
Hard drive speed, processor, ram, network will all be a big deal with rendering and compressing. Why not just get a few xserve cluster nodes or g5 workstations instead? Mac mini only has a 4200 rpm hard drive, 10/100 network(no gigabit) and by the time you add 2 gigs of ram and other upgrades, you have already spent too much on it. Actually I wouldn't doubt that it would render slower on 2-3 machines then just on a single one because of the bottle necks.

Are you guys really encoding video that is that large where you need a farm? Sounds like the boss just thinks that since the mini's are cheap(initially), that this would be a fun toy to have.

Setup of anything like clustered endcoding on windows/linux is a pain in the ass and is going to involve lots of wasted time to get it going(do you want to be a sysadmin, or an artist). Transfering gigs of files between the machines, by itself is going to be a huge bottle neck in your time since your going to have to render some kind of high quality master out of final cut which is going to be 10x the size of your final movie. Do you really want to spend half your time jumping through hoops just so you can save a couple bucks? Also Compressor's Mpeg2 encoder produces beautiful results.

If you were already editing and authoring on Windows, then I would keep everything on the same platform, but since your already using FCP and probably Dvd Studio, why would you waste all that time with windows boxes just to encode video(What encoder were you considering on linux/windows)? I would definatly stick with the mac on this one, but ditch the mini mac idea.

Beamtracer
09-08-2005, 10:21 AM
When the Mac Mini was first released, I compared it to the G5 at the time, just adding up what it cost per megahertz.

The G5 was cheaper per megahertz.

When you also factor in that a G5 processor does more work per clock cycle than a G4, it puts the G5 even further ahead.

parallax
09-08-2005, 10:45 PM
Hard drive speed, processor, ram, network will all be a big deal with rendering and compressing. Why not just get a few xserve cluster nodes or g5 workstations instead? Mac mini only has a 4200 rpm hard drive, 10/100 network(no gigabit) and by the time you add 2 gigs of ram and other upgrades, you have already spent too much on it. Actually I wouldn't doubt that it would render slower on 2-3 machines then just on a single one because of the bottle necks.

Are you guys really encoding video that is that large where you need a farm? Sounds like the boss just thinks that since the mini's are cheap(initially), that this would be a fun toy to have.

Setup of anything like clustered endcoding on windows/linux is a pain in the ass and is going to involve lots of wasted time to get it going(do you want to be a sysadmin, or an artist). Transfering gigs of files between the machines, by itself is going to be a huge bottle neck in your time since your going to have to render some kind of high quality master out of final cut which is going to be 10x the size of your final movie. Do you really want to spend half your time jumping through hoops just so you can save a couple bucks? Also Compressor's Mpeg2 encoder produces beautiful results.

If you were already editing and authoring on Windows, then I would keep everything on the same platform, but since your already using FCP and probably Dvd Studio, why would you waste all that time with windows boxes just to encode video(What encoder were you considering on linux/windows)? I would definatly stick with the mac on this one, but ditch the mini mac idea.

I totally agree with you on all points, and the Mac mini idea only lived a short life, i made sure of that. I guess a couple of extra G5's or a Xserve cluster will do it. We had to fire the sysadmin a few months ago, so somebody has got to do it. We do a lot of rather long form projects, and have done 4xHD res exhibition work(though that was encoded with Procoder). The coming year we'll have to encode a few thousand hours of video for the Audivisual archive, and likely cut it, and keep it online for a year.

The other tasks the farm would be used for is After Effects rendering. Since a lot of our projects tend to be huge, we do a lot of networkrendering across all Macs. Strangely enough, we don't use the Windows systems in network rendering (except 3D), as they seem to render slightly different. I might have to test that some time, cause the 10 extra Xeon CPU's just sitting there being idle is a waste of money.

3DDave
09-08-2005, 11:22 PM
FCP 5 states distributed encoding support, call Apple and find out what the details are?

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