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TorbenSchou
10-27-2009, 02:47 PM
I potentially have up to about 4k to spend on hardware for rendering (and only rendering). What would people recommend getting? I have Maya 2010, which comes with the 5 mental ray nodes, so I can consider getting more than one unit.

My current belief is that I should prioritise on the quantity of cores and the amount of RAM. Is this a good way to go? Would people go for one or two really powerful rigs, or a greater number of mid range rigs?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

p.s. apologies if this topic has already been answered, but I couldn't seem to find an appropriate answer

cgbeige
10-27-2009, 11:40 PM
if you want just pure horsepower with no GUI, get some headless Linux i9 (non-Xeon) machines. I can't guarantee you won't have problems with Mental Ray Satellite but it will be more powerful to get 3 of those than one 8-core Nehalem Xeon. But I'd just spend that money on a tricked out workstation with tons of RAM and an SSD.

Skoczylas
10-28-2009, 12:13 AM
cgbeige is right, get a i9 system. Its cheap and got lots of power. Btw: Theres a hardware section in this forum: Link (http://forums.cgsociety.org/forumdisplay.php?f=23)

Edit: it must be core i7 - sorry for that.

TorbenSchou
10-28-2009, 02:41 AM
Cheers for the tips.

I might try posting a similar topic in the hardware section, to see if anyone has any other suggestions.

InfernalDarkness
10-28-2009, 04:04 AM
A few years ago, I would have said "Get a mental ray RenderServer from ArtVPS." Those were the fastest and best blade-type nodes for MR around. Seems Boxx has kicked their butts out of the market though; ArtVPS no longer sells hardware like that. Either that, or Intel finally caught up enough to make the RenderServers obsolete. I miss watching those guys smoke Xeon rendertimes, though... Those were the days!

I'd suggest the new renderBoxx (http://boxxtech.com/products/RenderBOXX/10300_overview.asp), but I don't know what the pricing on those is nowadays. I do know that Boxx has kickass lease options and can save you a ton of money that way. They helped a lot with my last job, where we required an Apexx4 on a budget. The Apexx series are a bit outside anyone's price range, but as God is my witness, I've never worked on a slicker workstation, or scene such obscene rendertimes come from one single box.

Short of one of those preposterous machines (192GB of RAM per module?!?), and in lieu of the previous paragraph being the first time I've ever recommended Intel logoware to anyone, I would suggest the budget alternative.

Get a few six-core Opteron boxes and a pile of RAM. A decent dual-2400 runs around $1500 to build. That's twelve cores and 16GB of RAM, which would put a dent in most render tasks. At that price, you could do some serious rendertime damage with the money you're looking to spend. Two of those type of setups would almost equal an Apexx4 anyway, minus the localization benefits and the 64GB of RAM, of course.

Just an idea. I'm sure some Intel unpaid advertisers will loathe it, but there you go.

cgbeige
10-28-2009, 05:47 PM
Not to turn this into a flamewar but I find it funny that you call Macs expensive but you'd recommend a machine that you don't know the price of. There's no way you could build a decent BOXX set-up for 4k that would compete with a generic i9 4-core 3.0 GHz.

InfernalDarkness
10-28-2009, 06:51 PM
Not to turn this into a flamewar but I find it funny that you call Macs expensive but you'd recommend a machine that you don't know the price of. There's no way you could build a decent BOXX set-up for 4k that would compete with a generic i9 4-core 3.0 GHz.

Your first comment is ironic. All you intended was to start an argument, and that's consistent with known reality of your persona here.

I made no mention of Macs at all.

I have pricing from Boxx for various renderBoxx setups, but not for their new one. Why must you always whine about topics like this?

There's no way you could build a decent BOXX set-up for 4k that would compete with a generic i9 4-core 3.0 GHz.

How could you possibly know this? You just used that argument on me, then in the same post make the same assumption. Show us your pricing, Boxx price vs. your price. Boxx will configure just about anything, and the premium price would be for their tech support.

Why not Core i8? (http://www.bit-tech.net/news/hardware/2009/10/01/six-core-intel-cpu-will-be-called-core-i9/1)

Please post some pricing for the Nontium, if you can find any. As of now, all I could find were tech articles about the processor. Nobody had their hands on one, and nobody has posted benches or prices. Also, you mention a quad-core i9, which I have found no reference to, anywhere on the 'Net.

Here's the lineup:

http://www.newtechnology.co.in/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/intel-core-i.jpg

CPU wars (http://www.cpu-wars.com/2009/07/core-i9-32nm-gulftown.html)

From that link:

As we’ve mentioned several times before, the 32nm Gulftown 6-core (or hexa-core) chip will launch in Q1 2010 as the first chip in the Westmere family, the successor to Nehalem.

So you're proposing a processor that isn't on the market yet as the solution for a cheap renderfarm? Where did you find your prices and availability?

Please, enlighten us.

cgbeige
10-28-2009, 06:56 PM
sorry - I mean i7, not i9 but looking at your chart, I'd say wait then, if you're going to get a desktop-grade CPU since it looks like the i9 is just around the corner.

Post a price from BOXX and stop blathering on in bad English about the known reality of my persona. Put the spoon down

pix3lm0nk
10-28-2009, 09:00 PM
sorry - I mean i7, not i9 but looking at your chart, I'd say wait then, if you're going to get a desktop-grade CPU since it looks like the i9 is just around the corner.

Post a price from BOXX and stop blathering on in bad English about the known reality of my persona. Put the spoon down


Or you could find the price of the Boxx system first before claiming no one could build a Boxx system for around $4K to compete with the generic system you also didn't have a price for. Also, no need to bring up bad english. We've all screwed up while typing in forums. No one needs to be a hypocrite and talk about someone else.

I've used/recommended Boxx (renderboxxes) at the last 2 places I've worked. They're very competitive in pricing and have great support. For home, I build my own.

cgbeige
10-28-2009, 09:19 PM
I've seen their prices in 3D World - I just don't have anything handy.

InfernalDarkness
10-28-2009, 09:34 PM
sorry - I mean i7, not i9 but looking at your chart, I'd say wait then, if you're going to get a desktop-grade CPU since it looks like the i9 is just around the corner.

Post a price from BOXX and stop blathering on in bad English about the known reality of my persona. Put the spoon down

That should be "poor English", not "bad". Evil superheroes do "bad" things; grammar can be "poor" or "proper", but is always neutral in demeanor. Also, sentences begin with capital letters (use the "Shift" key), and your over-ruse of commas in that first sentence is almost on par with my atrocious over-use of the same. I would suggest taking English lessons, but in Canada it's possible that English is not your first language.

My point was that you and a few others suggested a system that doesn't exist yet, period. Great advice. Why not just suggest the i-¾∞, or something else that also doesn't exist? I know, I know... You made an iMistake. It's not a big deal, but please don't lash out at me just because you made a mistake. Nobody actually thinks you look foolish for doing so, especially not me.

Also, since you haven't bothered to price out your "i9" setup, why are you upset about the Boxx suggestion? It wasn't personal, CGBeige. It was a suggestion to the person who started this thread; don't let it annoy you out that other people also have ideas.


I've seen their prices in 3D World - I just don't have anything handy.

I am Jack's total lack of surprise.

cgbeige
10-28-2009, 09:36 PM
i9 was a typo – you win.

cgbeige
10-28-2009, 09:49 PM
and for the record, "bad English/bad grammar" are grammatically correct. I'm also a writer—remember?

InfernalDarkness
10-28-2009, 10:12 PM
and for the record, "bad English/bad grammar" are grammatically correct. I'm also a writer—remember?

I didn't remember that you were a writer, because I never knew that. But at least now I know which books not to buy; thanks for the heads-up!

Hope this helps, though:

www.dictionary.com

cgbeige
10-29-2009, 03:19 AM
http://arstechnica.com/authors/dave-girard/

TorbenSchou
10-29-2009, 06:09 AM
Thanks for the advice guys and I do always enjoy a good argument.

So, I checked prices and the BOXX stuff ain't cheap. Their top of the line solution comes in at around 40K. And indeed, the i9 isn't close to being available.

One thing I was curious about though was the trade off between: #cores vs. clock speed vs. cache size vs. RAM speed vs. RAM size vs. harddrive access. Does anyone know which is the most important to focus on?

Another way of putting it; would it be worth having, say 4 low end boxes, each with a quad core in them, going one or two boxes with dual quads, or going one with a top i7 (possibly dual, if possible) and ton of RAM?

InfernalDarkness
10-29-2009, 11:56 AM
One thing I was curious about though was the trade off between: #cores vs. clock speed vs. cache size vs. RAM speed vs. RAM size vs. harddrive access. Does anyone know which is the most important to focus on?

Another way of putting it; would it be worth having, say 4 low end boxes, each with a quad core in them, going one or two boxes with dual quads, or going one with a top i7 (possibly dual, if possible) and ton of RAM?

This is a bit more of a complex question. It really depends on what you're using to render (mental ray, Maya software, or Vue per your other thread). Benchmark scenes exist, but if you're just looking for rendering power then I think it gets mucky.

For example, CGBeige runs a pretty wicked Mac workstation that blows my quadcore Phenom away for rendering, but at a severe hit in price. Is it worth the price difference? Maybe so; we both use our workstations in rather similar fashions as main modeling/texturing/lighting/rendering rigs. I'm certain his is faster at rendering; that said, he's got a 4GB RAM limit which can be a pain in the ass for large or complex scenes. I've never seen that stop him, though.

Compared to the Apexx4 I worked with at my previous job, the one you saw priced at $40K from Boxx, my current workstation AND render slaves are toys. But at around $1K for my Phenom quad station, is the Apexx4 literally 40 times faster at rendering? I doubt it. Close perhaps, but the math behind rendering is rarely so easily scalable. I'd venture that my previous Love was at least 20x faster, but not 40.

I think as a generalization, for rendering get the most cores and highest clock stable you can afford in one box. This will keep things simple enough that network bottlenecks and the complexity-error issues won't bog you down. RAM speed is a factor, but with most new processors finally moving to DDR3 the comparisons aren't so vast. If you want scalability though, you'll want something rack-mounted from Boxx. I don't believe they have any competitors now that ArtVPS stepped out.

Rendering is about crunching numbers generally, so the more math throughput you've got, the faster it'll be. I think this is why ArtVPS doesn't sell mental ray-only RenderServers anymore; for years the Opteron smoked same-clock Xeons for rendering, but then Intel made a heavy comeback with Nehalem and pushed the Opterons to server-only status, basically. Of course the Apexx4 runs 4 six-core Opterons now, so they are still an option, but at that price one would have to sell your soul.

Speculation mostly; if you want hard numbers, you'll have to look at some Maya-specific benchmark threads or forums. If you are still hoping to accelerate Vue though, I hate to naysay it but good luck with that. Vue's a sloppy wreck, even compared to mental ray. Xstream even moreso (with Maya) than Infinite.

Puppet|
10-29-2009, 12:34 PM
If you have a plan to use mental ray stand alone (not Maya internal) on i7 CPUs... please take care. Current version does not works on i7 CPUs at all (i7 9xx and 8xx). mental ray could not get license on such machines.
Please contact with Autodesk support before. They should make patch.
As I know it should be completely fixed only in mental ray 3.8

cgbeige
10-29-2009, 03:03 PM
there you have it - In my experience, using networked machines is a lot more trouble than it's worth. You will invariably experience more problems than if you were using one machine. If you only have $4000, it might be better spent on a lot of cores if you're just looking for a productive workstation, but then you said you want it just for rendering, not working?

pix3lm0nk
10-29-2009, 03:41 PM
there you have it - In my experience, using networked machines is a lot more trouble than it's worth. You will invariably experience more problems than if you were using one machine. If you only have $4000, it might be better spent on a lot of cores if you're just looking for a productive workstation, but then you said you want it just for rendering, not working?


There you have it, it's actually no trouble at all. Hell, 99% of the studios out there are using "networked machines" aka render farms to complete productions. It does take a less than competent person to set up a small farm. It's even easier with software like Deadline or Qube.

It's pretty damn easy to set up a job on your production workstation and push it to the farm. It also helps to free up your workstation so you can continue to work while shots are being rendered. When you're done for the day, just add your workstation to the farm for even more power. It doesn't get any more childproof than that.

pix3lm0nk
10-29-2009, 03:46 PM
Compared to the Apexx4 I worked with at my previous job, the one you saw priced at $40K from Boxx, my current workstation AND render slaves are toys. But at around $1K for my Phenom quad station, is the Apexx4 literally 40 times faster at rendering? I doubt it. Close perhaps, but the math behind rendering is rarely so easily scalable. I'd venture that my previous Love was at least 20x faster, but not 40..

We priced out a RenderFarm box from Boxx about 5-6 months ago and it was only around $15K for 16 cores?

As for MR standalone, isn't the price still higher for the 64bit version, or at least closer to the cost of a seat of Maya? We looked at that a couple years ago and found it was just cheaper to buy seats of Maya complete than to deal with export/writing MI to put on the farm.

cgbeige
10-29-2009, 05:19 PM
It's pretty damn easy to set up a job on your production workstation and push it to the farm. It also helps to free up your workstation so you can continue to work while shots are being rendered. When you're done for the day, just add your workstation to the farm for even more power. It doesn't get any more childproof than that.

well when you get into stuff like custom shaders for Shave, Realflow, etc that all have to built specially for MR Satellite or Standalone, it IS more complicated. It's not just a matter of adding the slaves to rayrc.hosts and being done. I did it for years and it's hard enough not getting MR to shit itself on a local render. If you were talking about Renderman, then maybe it would be a different story.

As for "freeing up your machine," you're obviously running the wrong OS if it's such a burden to render in the background and work at the same time.

InfernalDarkness
10-29-2009, 07:01 PM
As for "freeing up your machine," you're obviously running the wrong OS if it's such a burden to render in the background and work at the same time.

Always turning things into an OS battle. Does Apple pay you by the line or by the character to promote OS 10?

pix3lm0nk
10-29-2009, 08:10 PM
As for "freeing up your machine," you're obviously running the wrong OS if it's such a burden to render in the background and work at the same time.

using all cores in OSX is no different than using them in Linux or Win, jackass. When you're up against a deadline, you want all of your cores chugging along without "working" on the system. Quit twisting people's words around to suit your trolling and quit derailing constructive threads just because you are a platform snob. Notified the mods.

Grow up.

cgbeige
10-29-2009, 08:53 PM
well I was also talking about Linux since it also doesn't grind to a halt when you render. But call in the mods – I dared suggest that good multitasking is a platform-dependent thing.

I still stand by the part where I said that Mental Ray over a network is a pain when you start using custom shaders and tools.

Puppet|
10-29-2009, 09:31 PM
I still stand by the part where I said that Mental Ray over a network is a pain when you start using custom shaders and tools.
There is no problem with mental ray over a network. Just put your shaders to server. And load it from same place for all machines.
You may use network shaders with Maya and mental ray sand alone as well.

mental ray stand alone is more better for render farm:
1. Less cost 900-1800 instead of 3500 for Maya.
2. You don't need any plugins, that you may use in Maya, because of scene is already converted to *.mi. Plugins may add some value to price and add some problems (license/installation/running).
3. Starting mental ray stand alone is more time faster.
4. Less memory used. Better stability. Better flexibility.

Maya is more problem on render farm :)

pix3lm0nk
10-29-2009, 11:08 PM
There is no problem with mental ray over a network. Just put your shaders to server. And load it from same place for all machines.
You may use network shaders with Maya and mental ray sand alone as well.


yeah we pathed our shaders on the network at my last job. It's a lot easier to manage! That was a godsend when we found out how to do that and got it working.

yeah at $3500 for Maya now it is cheaper to get MR standalone now! I started looking into the standalone but never delved too deeply into it before I left my last job.

Now Maya users have more options than ever before like MR, renderman, Maxwell 2, Vray, Turtle, fRender, and so on. It's a good time to be in the bidness.

cgbeige
10-30-2009, 05:42 AM
So Maya Mental Ray shaders are compatible with standalone? I just know that I had to use broken Shave MR satellite shaders and it invariably borked renders.

Puppet|
10-30-2009, 09:10 AM
So Maya Mental Ray shaders are compatible with standalone? I just know that I had to use broken Shave MR satellite shaders and it invariably borked renders.
Yes, of course. I'm always using shaders from Maya in mental ray stand alone for avoid different version problems.
With only one exception, mayahair.dll is different. mayahair.dll from mental ray stand alone it's just dummy dll.
I'm not sure about Shave, but suppose it should works without any problems.

AXLCorey
10-21-2010, 07:32 PM
Newb question...I manage a small animation department (Maya + After Effects mainly). We currently use Backburner for rendering but I'm trying to figure out a way to speed up the process and keep things literally in-house. I'm starting to read about RenderBoxx but I don't understand the technology completely. Do you have to have another license of Maya, or multiple licenses set up on the RenderBoxx or do you somehow plug the RenderBoxx directly into the system you're using to create your animations on? I guess as simple as I can ask it....is a Renderboxx independent from your Maya license or is it integrated to a license you already own on your primary animation system??

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