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  11 November 2004
Mac|Maya|Renderfarm|Video cards

We're thinking about setting up a Mac renderfarm with dual g5 systems running Maya 6.

I was wondering if anybody out there had any words of wisdom to share with the us and the CGTalk community to help steer us clear of problems.

An experiences with dual G5s? What about the various video cards that ship with the g5s?
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  11 November 2004
Are you going to operate them headless? Or do these need to be workstations?

If you want them to be headless, then the G5 cluster nodes should work fine for what you want. Plus an Xserve RAID setup would give you a ton of data storage for a relatively cheap price.

If I ever needed a render-farm that is what I would do. Especially if you plan to use Shake and the Qmaster render que.

Quote: Shake & Maya Network Rendering

Harness networked Macs for both Shake and Maya rendering.
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  11 November 2004
nah you can buy three rackmount linux boxes for the cost of a decent G5. For workstations macs are great, but for cost per frame o with dedicated linux boxes.
 
  11 November 2004
I think there might be a reason why their looking at Macs instead. Sometimes costs can appear to be different. Especially when it comes to software, which OS X server is free to install on any machine, but Linux is licensed per node, or CPU. So the costs may be the same in the end. I'm not sure if Alias/Maya still requires only certain Linux builds, so they may not be able to use free distributions of Linux.

On the Mac side though, there are so many pluses, like remote desktop, OS X Server, Qmaster if you have Shake, Quicktime, etc, etc... To me Macs are priced just right. Their just not priced for the average hobbiest. But for studio work, I'm sure the prices are not even an issue, considering what it use to cost 5-10 years ago for something half as cpu powerful.
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  11 November 2004
Originally Posted by chadtheartist: I think there might be a reason why their looking at Macs instead. Sometimes costs can appear to be different. Especially when it comes to software, which OS X server is free to install on any machine, but Linux is licensed per node, or CPU.

Umm... isn't it the other way around? When you buy an XServe the license cost of OSX Server is included, and no it's not "legal" to install it on any machine. Linux on the other hand, you can install it anywhere you want as many times as you want, you just bring the hardware.

Originally Posted by chadtheartist: So the costs may be the same in the end. I'm not sure if Alias/Maya still requires only certain Linux builds, so they may not be able to use free distributions of Linux.

Originally Alias and SoftImage did require RedHat Linux for use with their products but Linux users have found ways of getting it to work on just about any Linux distro. Fedora Core is still a "Red Hat" distro and I have heard of people running Maya with it. FC is a free download.

Originally Posted by chadtheartist: On the Mac side though, there are so many pluses, like remote desktop, OS X Server, Qmaster if you have Shake, Quicktime, etc, etc... To me Macs are priced just right. Their just not priced for the average hobbiest. But for studio work, I'm sure the prices are not even an issue, considering what it use to cost 5-10 years ago for something half as cpu powerful.

Remote desktop is free in Linux FYI. But if you're comfortable with OSX and Qmaster than I can't argue that. If price isn't an issue for a studio, then they'd have hired a Linux admin and stock pile on Linux nodes. Hardware becomes obsolete very fast. Your render farm today may only be good for 1 - 3 years (that's being generous) and then it won't be so powerful anymore. Virginia Tech built a super computer out of Dual G5 towers. Then the G5 XServes came out and we see thousands of G5 towers on eBay.

My point is, software is a more valuable asset. Hardware is a commodity and you should be flexible with it. But to contradict my own opinion: it's fact that Mac hardware holds a better resell value. So even if you have to someday sell of your Mac render farm for an upgrade, you'd get a good portion of your investment back. Supposedly. Maybe.
 
  11 November 2004
Yeah, you're right. I didn't mean to start a debate about all of this. I was wrong about being able to install OS X server on any Mac. I should have said it has unlimited client access, except for the cluster node. OS X server has a remote "access" availability too. But Apple's Remote Desktop is a bit different. You can actually view different desktops right on your own monitor, which is something I don't think Linux has. But that's getting tit for tat. My main point being that aside from the price factor, the information I gave him in my first post should suffice for what he wants. I took it as he wanted a Mac renderfarm, and I gave him the information he requested. I am well aware of the savings on the PC hardware side, so I don't want you to think I was trying to argue about that.
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