RenderFarm, more power with less computers or less power and many computers

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  04 April 2013
RenderFarm, more power with less computers or less power and many computers

Whats the best processor solution to build an renderfarm?
(80% of my work its still images, 3d max, vray)

5 processors Xeon E5 computer (5 X 4000 = 20.000)
or for the same price
8 processors Xeon E3 ( 8 X 2500 = 20.000)

more individual power with less computers
less individual power and alot of computers
  04 April 2013
That seems to be a common question having looked into render farm solutions myself. It all seems to stem from the power bill each month and whether it bothers you or not financially. I look at it this way, if you get enough midrange computers to render your scenes and animations then you can get more done in larger chunks but if you use less computers with higher end hardware then you'll get the same amount done but using less computers. There's probably a balancing act factor as well in that you may get farther with the midrange computers but you have to consider how many it will actually take to outperform the higher end machines without dedicating half of your house/office to render computers and, again, how that will affect your electric bill in the long run. I'm hoping for somebody to test out those Xeon Phi cards to see if they're any good for 3D rendering or not, if they are then it might make individual and small business render farms a lot easier to handle.

*EDIT* For stills I think it would be best to use the higher end hardware as you would be previewing the render as well. For animation though it's up to preference and work situation as stated above.
  04 April 2013
what specific model processors are you considering?

comparing the E3 and E5 families as a whole is hard to do if you're concerned about specific processing capabilities and power draw
  04 April 2013
Neither is better or worse, it depends on your priorities, what you do with the farm, and how you do it.

See this thread:

It's been discussed many times, you can search for more, but that's the most recent and it did go into wide vs tall scale.
Come, Join the Cult - Rigging from First Principles
  04 April 2013
There are a lot of factors to consider like the cost of software licenses, time to setup and maintain the farm, floorspace, specific tasks like simulation or rendering, and so on. Generally speaking the best bang for the buck is with lower cost machines. A processor that costs twice as much isn't going to dish out twice the performance.
  04 April 2013
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