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Old 07-30-2013, 03:24 PM   #1
sp34k
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Renderserver for still-rendering

Dear community,

A hallo and some background info
I just created my first user here on CGsociety because I feel this is the right place to ask my answer (and find inspiration for my work)

So, as the title says, I'm here to ask a question about renderserveres what I should choose. Before asking this question I did some search and found a website called http://www.workstationspecialist.com but they don't offer much info on their servers and what prices they are at.

I know for a fact that rendering takes A LOT of CPU usage, so I think my main-focus in a renderserver is a strong CPU.

I have researched the internet for informations about which CPU to choose, but asking a question like that like asking someone "What car should I buy?" There's so many personal opinions (which are great by the way).

So, I'm tired of READING forums - now I'd like to ASK so I can get direct answers specific to my question

So you wan't a renderserver? For what exactly?:
I'm glad you asked! I think it would be best if I put things this way:

What software are you using?
- I'm using E-on Vue 11 Complete

Are you doing animations?
- No, I only do still images

How would you imagine you're render server would look like?
- Not sure actually, but I imagined a standard computer cabinet with strong hardware?

What do you require in form of hardware?
- I would love to have a motherboard with 2 CPU's because I read online that it is the best you can get. And some pretty good CPU's RAM is also a key element - and for GPU I just want something regular, I don't think it matters much?

And the most important question: What is you're budget?
- Since I'm pretty much a newb at 3D, I'd probably say everything between $0 - $4400(max!)

I hope everything made sense, otherwise, feel free to ask!

Best regards,
Mike B.
www.sp34k.com

Last edited by sp34k : 07-30-2013 at 06:05 PM.
 
Old 07-30-2013, 10:51 PM   #2
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At one point Vue came with five free render licenses. Those could be used to render complete frames from an animation or what would be more helpful in your case is tiles within a single frame. If Vue still has those five free render licenses I'd use those on cheap machines to help render tiles. Five machines for $800 each will provide more rendering performance than one machine for $4,000.
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Old 07-31-2013, 06:36 AM   #3
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Hey Olson, and thank you for helping me out.

I think you are talking about Hypervue: http://www.e-onsoftware.com/product.../?page=hypervue which allows me to render across (up to) 5 computers? I really didn't know this was worth it, I thought a single $4000 computer would be strongest.

My only concern is having 5x computers storaged somewhere in my apartment. I'm not sure if they are at the size of a normal computer, because they would take up a lot of space then.

If it wouldn't be too much to ask, what kind of hardware would you suggest? The hardware is one of my biggest problems because I'm not sure what to buy.

Cheers
 
Old 07-31-2013, 01:50 PM   #4
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Hey Olson, and thank you for helping me out.

I think you are talking about Hypervue: http://www.e-onsoftware.com/product.../?page=hypervue which allows me to render across (up to) 5 computers? I really didn't know this was worth it, I thought a single $4000 computer would be strongest.

My only concern is having 5x computers storaged somewhere in my apartment. I'm not sure if they are at the size of a normal computer, because they would take up a lot of space then.

If it wouldn't be too much to ask, what kind of hardware would you suggest? The hardware is one of my biggest problems because I'm not sure what to buy.

Cheers
 
Old 07-31-2013, 02:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olson
At one point Vue came with five free render licenses. Those could be used to render complete frames from an animation or what would be more helpful in your case is tiles within a single frame. If Vue still has those five free render licenses I'd use those on cheap machines to help render tiles. Five machines for $800 each will provide more rendering performance than one machine for $4,000.

Within the confines of the budget and with the fact RAM tends to not quite accumulate well in raytracers tiling across units (most boxes will need a large part or all the ram threshold you'd have in a single), still need to kit them out with at least some storage, need cases and PSUs (even if cheap) I'd say within the 4k range you would probably find a sweet spot somewhere before 5, but yeah, would definitely consider a couple strong duals or more likely 3/4 well setup single CPU units over a single four grands monster.

Hard to tell without knowing how much ram vue targets (I have no clue) and what the prices are like in Denmark though.

And does Vue scale well or poorly across cores?
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:51 AM   #6
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You could get five of these for about $2,500, throw in a switch and some cables and you're at $2,600. If you need Windows licenses it would be about $3,000.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16811129186
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16822136769
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16813128565
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16817151077
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16820148465
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16819113284

A 350 watt power supply since there's onboard graphics, 500GB hard drive, 16GB of memory (upgrade to 32GB if needed), and a 8 core processor from AMD that has good bang for the buck for ray tracing rendering.

Cumulative Cinebench 11.5 performance is around 35.0 for comparison (7.0 per node). The Xeon E5-2690 processor is about $2,100 by itself, a system with two of them ($4,200 in processors alone) scores about 25.0 on the same benchmark. A complete system with those processors would be $5,000+ which is a lot to pay if you don't absolutely need all the performance in a single machine.

There will be some loss due to network latency and bandwidth when distributing tiles but you get the idea. Even if the loss is half it's still good bang for the buck. More performance in a single machine is hugely expensive compared to a lot of cheaper machines. There are good reasons to go with a dual processor workstation or server but I'm not sure you really need it (need more than 32GB of memory, can't parallelize workload over the network, software licenses per node are really expensive).
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Old 08-01-2013, 11:41 PM   #7
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to add to olson's suggestion, by adding multiple smaller machines instead of a single renderer you enhance the fault tolerance of your solution.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tswalk
to add to olson's suggestion, by adding multiple smaller machines instead of a single renderer you enhance the fault tolerance of your solution.


It's more reliable in some ways and it's less reliable in other ways. Really though the discussion about reliability doesn't even matter at the freelancer working from home level. Something as simple a network card failing could bring down everything, or a five second power outage.
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Old 08-02-2013, 07:42 AM   #9
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If youre just doing this as a hobby for your own fun, I would probably just look to get a single decent machine rather than go through the trouble of networking and maintaining multiple machines, It sounds like youre just looking for another machine to offload some renders onto so your main computer isnt always busy doing it.

I would look at finding a machine based on the 3930 i7 processor. Its a 6 core chip that runs at 3.2GHz so it has a good kick of power and it will be happy running 24/7 churning through any renders you give it. Load the machine up with 32 gigs of ram and the cheapest/smallest graphics card and harddrive you can find. You should be able to do this for less than £1500. Once youve got this up and running, if you really find you need more power (Id be surprised if you didnt find this good enough for rendering stills) you could always build another 1-2 of them.
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:15 AM   #10
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Three machines with the i7-3930K processor would be about 30.5 cumulative score in Cinebench for about $3,150 in hardware. That's about $103 per Cinebench point compared to $71 per Cinebench point with the FX-8350 processor so the bang for the buck is not as good. On the plus side you could get similar performance out of fewer machines which would take up less space.
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Old 08-02-2013, 11:44 AM   #11
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I guess what Im mostly suggesting is that setting up 5 machines for $4000+ just to render some stills in Vue as a hobby is probably a few steps further than its worth. Personally Id just get one decent render machine and see how it goes from there. In all likelihood I expect the single render node would be plenty.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:44 PM   #12
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Sooo many good opinions, idéas and thought guys, much appreciated!

I have thought about building 3-4 machines and connect them, but as imashination mentioned it might be too much because I dont do commercial nor professional work. I just have some fun in Vue and I don't really want to wait too long, so I thought I'd spend some money on a single hardcore machine worth around $4000 or maybe less expensive machines and connect them together.

I would like to build my Vue scenes on the render-machine, so 16-32GB is more than enough. If I have to buy more than 1 computer (let's say 3-4-5 computers) then I'd like to have them in a rack somehow, because having so many cabinets in one room will take ALOT of space + it will be very hot. I live in an apartment so I can't just put them in the garage or basement.

I like the build olson posted, it will be cheap computers with a lot of cores! And imashination suggestion is also worth taking in considerations, I would probably buy two of them (I really really don't want to wait a long time for my renders to finish).

I just dont know if I should go for builds or go for a single machine worth my entire budget.

If you guys invidually had $4000 to spend on a rendermachine for still-images, what would you do? Let's say you had enough room to store all the computers you wanted.. Would you buy 3-4 cheaper machines or one machine worth the entire budget?
 
Old 08-02-2013, 01:06 PM   #13
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In general having at least a couple machines with a rendermule available split from the main workstation is a good thing.

When not pressed for time you can leave just the mule running with less power draw, heat and noise than a monster workstation would. Modern computers are phenomenally power efficient with resources they don't use, but there's still a gap between a minimalistic setup with an integrated videocard and a workstation that has GPU, storage and CPU horsepower.

When working actively a mule can still be running in the background churning frames and tests, and be used to iterate thoughts, tests or progress separate projects, while your workstation remains available.
Again, modern computing in the form of OS, available resources and so on is a long shot better than a few years ago, it's perfectly possible to carefully manage resources to be able to run rendering with reduced affinity in the background while you work with an app in the foreground, but it's never quite AS smooth.

When something scales well widely (rendering in some engines does), and license don't constitute a limit (free render nodes means additional CPUs don't cost in software money) the number crunching of three cheap machines will often beat that of one machine of the same cost.
There's a fine balance here when all things are considered, and I don't know vue well enough to make a statement, but in general something like three not quite top of the line ivy bridge or haswell CPUs will outperform, cycle per dollar, a single monster dual CPU workstation very easily. Dual capable CPU cost premium, they indirectly cost further premium because you pay for optimizations/concerns that are of no interest of you (features and design that are intended for high yield per blade farming, or low TDP), and often require more expensive components (ECC RAM and a limited choice of motherboards) which, while nowhere as expensive as a few years ago, do actually add some overhead.

Olson's advice is good. I'm not 100% sure I'd go with exactly the same, I suspect you could probably squeeze a better bang for buck out of three boxes with better CPUs, but I'm not comfortable arguing that too intensely. I don't know vue, and it's the kind of stuff that goes in the realm of empirical (without testing competing configs and how the load gets balanced it's hard to make a statement).
I also have little experience with recent AMD CPUs and I'm diffident of them for reasons that are more hearsay and not wanting to take a risk than anything documented or reasonable.

Make what you will of that, lift Olson's advice one2one if you want, it IS good advice, or find a more manageable sweet spot with one good workstation and a couple mules if you wish (and if you care for a strong workstation in the deal).
IMO, if you don't mind stretching to fill that budget, as in staying well below isn't your top priority, at least one workstation and one low power draw mule would be something you'll grow to like.

Additional machines will have a learning curve in how you operate, they might even feel hampering in the beginning, but in the longer run and with minimal investment they turn into a massive boost.
On Linux I run several virtual machines, and I have a very versatile NAS that also doubles as a specialized server for some services, because I've grown to like that level of separation of tasks reflected all the way to entities in a network, even when working on the one single monster workstation (no space or enough justification for additional hardware machines).

Food for thought.
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sp34k
If you guys invidually had $4000 to spend on a rendermachine for still-images, what would you do? Let's say you had enough room to store all the computers you wanted.. Would you buy 3-4 cheaper machines or one machine worth the entire budget?


3-4 cheaper machines every time
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:58 AM   #15
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