Render Farm Vs. Dual Xeon Render Boxx

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  11 November 2004
Render Farm Vs. Dual Xeon Render Boxx

I am thinking about buying a either a rendering box or a render fram. I have about 2500 to spend. For that I can afford an expensive dual Xeon rendering box or I was thinking about buying a load of cheap computers to be a render farm.

I don't need a new comp to work on so graphics aren't important.

I have looked into what I could get for 2500. I worked out that I could get 16:-

Sempron 2200+
MB with onnoard graphics
512 ddr 333
40 hd

Surely this would be faster than 1 dual xeon machine??

Any thoughts?
  11 November 2004

Hi There...

your situation is pretty much the same with me, as you know if render for display requires a high level VGA card (Quadro,FireGL,Wildcat Realizm) in which those card support hardware rendering, but you are about to "render" a whole..Big...Huge..scene and not concern much for render display, then investing for several computer for render farm or 1 rendernodes will be a good alternative

the pros and cons according to me will be, if purchasing 16 komputer than you will have to consider your electricity bill... and my opinion the "render" speed for your project would be quite faster rather than you buy 1 rendernodes from xeon...but 1 rendernodes does not require lots of power consumption...

so...if electricity bill does not concern you..go ahead buy those 16 komputer (Sempron processor), but if it does, 1 rendernodes with dual XEON 800 Mhz FSB and 1mb L2 cache will do...

  11 November 2004
What are you going to be rendering with? I think that unless you're using Gelato you'll be better off with a small cluster of cheaper machines than with one monster machine. It will slow down your single frame rendering with most renderers, but it will speed up animation rendering overall.
  11 November 2004
if you buy a bunch of machines, make sure they all have plenty of ram
This is where a dedicated box with 2GB can be better than a stack of budget machines that only have 512MB each in them, as they will crawl for high memory scenes. (as I have discovered to my cost)

Maybe compromise and have 2 medium spec machines
[ message end ]
  11 November 2004
To make a proper recommendation I'd need to know what software you're using to render with but, for the most part, AMD Opterons are out performing Intel XEONs for rendering. You'll want to go with 2GB of memory and a hard drive to hold whatever OS you're using.
Ed Caracappa
Next Computing
  11 November 2004
Thanks for all the replies.

I'm using Max6 and Mentalray. I am trying to create a 3-4 minuite music video. At the moment each frame is taking up to 2hrs to render on my 2.8ghz P4 system with 1gb of ram. Final gather is the main killer it looks like I'll have to ditch it all together unless I can get my render times down. My scene is a disco club so there are loads of glowing materials and lights. all this adds up to horrible render times.

Production speed is my main concern. It seems to me that I'm going to get faster results with many low spec machines rather than one super powerfull PC.

Maybe my 16 sempron idea isn't the best and 4-5 P4 systems with 1gb of ram would be better? I appreiciate my electric bill will bill will go through the roof using this type of solution, but for speed surely it's the way to go?
  11 November 2004
Originally Posted by Mikp11: Maybe my 16 sempron idea isn't the best and 4-5 P4 systems with 1gb of ram would be better? I appreiciate my electric bill will bill will go through the roof using this type of solution, but for speed surely it's the way to go?

Yes, it's most likely going to be the best performance option you can get.
  11 November 2004
Head over to the 3DS Max forum (if you haven't already) and ask around for tips to optimize your rendering. Don't just throw CPU power at it, optimize and make the best use of the CPU you have (or will be getting).

Cutting out FG isn't totally necessary if you're willing to spend some time tweaking the settings to find a middle ground between quality and render time. You said that there are lots of glowing materials and lights in your scene, here are some questions for you:

1 - does every single light affect every single object?

2 - does every single light need to contribute to FG?

3 - does every single object need to be lit by FG?

If you can get away with just using GI and no FG and still get the same look, go for it. I know in Mental Ray it's possible to assign what lights/objects are included in the GI calculations. FG on the otherhand, once you turn it on, it's everywhere. Unless you can find ways of restricting FG only to where it makes a difference in the look of the scene, which is the point of those 3 questions I asked above.
  11 November 2004
Hold on, don't you have to buy rendernodes per machine for a render farm?/ you can't jsut install the same software on different machine?? If i am right the cost would be very expensive. But it seems the way so many are replying i am confused and if thats the case would someone please direct me to some info about rendering farms because like i said i never tried it because i thought you had to buy more nodes???
  11 November 2004
It depends on which renderer you're using. Some of us are spoiled because of LightWave and Cinema4D with their extremely inexpensive renderfarm licensing, and tend to forget sometimes that not everyone does that
  11 November 2004
mmm lightwave and its pretty unlimited render nodes lic
  11 November 2004
16 computers, watch out for the electrity bill!And dont forget the heat! You ahve to take these points into account too.
  11 November 2004
He did say "Max 6 and Mental Ray." So yeah, 16 Semprons are cheap but 16 MR licenses are not.
  11 November 2004
MR is a bad choice if you are on a budget. Unless they reduced the price lately, it is around 995$ pr. CPU x 16 = 15920$.
Since speed is what you need ,have you considered one of the cheaper GI solutions, like V-ray. Instead of 16 nodes of max scanline, You could get V-ray and 8 nodes as a compromise between speed and quality.


  11 November 2004
Vertizor: Yeah agreed the first thing to look at is optimizing my render setup. I'll take your advice and head over to the max forums and see if I can get any help over there.
Nils: haha, thats a lot of money!!! Are there any cheaper licences you can get for each of the render slaves? What about max, would that need a licence for each machine too?

Are there companies or online services that will do large renders for you? It seems that setting up my own render farme will be way out of my price range, but maybe I could afford to pay someone to render for me?

Anyway thatks alot for all the help.
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