ART VPS hardware rendering card vs. Satellite rendering

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Old 10 October 2005   #1
ART VPS hardware rendering card vs. Satellite rendering

ART VPS hardware rendering card vs. Satellite rendering
I have questions about ART VPS rendering card and how it´s compared with using satellite rendering. The price would be about the same buying a Pure P1800 rendering card and buying 3, good satellite PC´s with dual core. So how would the P1800 work compared with satellite rendering using 8 CPUs?

I have neither used ART VPS´s cards or satellites redndering but are very interested in cutting rendering time.

Pure rendering cards and RenderPipe renderer (www.artvps.com)
How is the RenderPipe renderer?
Is it hard to learn?
Do you have to have programming skills to achieve top results?
How is it´s advantages/limits compared with Mental Ray?
How´s the materials and lights?

The images I have seen made with RenderPipe have had various quality. Many pictures are amaizingly good but some other pictures looks quite bad. On the forum: www.render-art.com the quality varies.

One drawback is that RenderPipe only works on older versions of Maya and Max.
One advantage is that the Pure card seems to handle heavy scenes extreemly well in the viewport when working with them.
The new RenderPipe v.5.0 (now beta), has advanced Global Illumination, called SI (secondary illumination). How much better is this new one.

Satellites
Reading on the forums about satellite rendering, it don´t allways seems to work 100%. And how does it work when tweeking a rendering during the test/setup phase? I believe it could be very usefull for the final renering but how much does it help on images taking about 30seconds to 5 minutes to render? Does the satellites have time to help or is the startup phase (reading textures etc.) too long for smaller renders?

Are there other, simple ways to render a single frame on several computers?
I want the renderer made in the Render View to render on all connected computers.

Feed back
It would be great if RenderPipe users would share their experiences on the renderer and the hardware. Especially how it works with GI and rendertimes with GI. It seems to handle Raytracing extremly fast, how is it with GI?

To see your RenderPipe rendered images with rendertimes would be nice.

I believe allot of people are interested in this quite new hardware. But it´s hard to really compare it with the traditional software solutions just reading about it on Internet.

So please, if you have used renderPipe, any Pure card or Render Drive, please share your experiences!

Last edited by Hans Ulrich : 10 October 2005 at 08:26 AM.
 
Old 10 October 2005   #2
Hi Hans,

Yes, the quality of the renderings varies at www.render-art.com, and that is because people are at varying levels of proficiency. Render-Art is an independent site, and not affiliated with ART VPS, and we encourage people to post images so that we can discuss them. Some times it’s the magic wand, and sometimes it’s the magician, and I think you find that with any rendering system.

For around $5,500 you can get a PURE with a PCI-X bus interface, drop it into an existing computer and give yourself 24-30 times the raytracing speed of software. The speed of the computer can affect rendering speed, so having lots of dual-channel memory and a fast hard drive helps. The PCI-X version card is a better value than the P1800, as it has twice the chips (16), faster interface, and isn’t twice the price as the P1800. The P1800 is still quite fast with 8 chips at around $3,400US. Dual PURE is $6,659, and I would still go with the PCI-X if you have the interface. Be sure your computer has space for a full-sized PCI card, and clear space on the motherboard, too. Heat sinks and ribbon cables can get in the way.

With the PURE cards and dual CPU systems (or dual-core and/or HyperThreading) the render plugin does not use up all of your CPU time, and on my dual Xeon system I can render at full-speed and still model without a noticeable slowdown. So there is little need to have another computer, or a render farm, just for rendering. That said, I get a little better performance out of having the PURE in my single-CPU P4 with the dual-channel memory than with my dual Xeon, and on large scenes I can use the memory for modeling so will offload to the other computer. I can also render from my local machine to the remote machine within max, just as if the card was in my local computer, and there is no need to move the card to render in any copy of max on the network; everyone can share the resource, as long as it is available. A gigabit network helps for any network rendering, but isn't required.

Rendering to a remote computer takes virtually zero CPU time on the local machine once the scene is sent to the other machine.

RenderPipe – the rendering plugin for max, Maya and Catia – runs of the current versions of those programs as far as I know. ART VPS has been a little behind from time to time with Maya as I recall, but the 3ds max plugin works fine since the code base for max hasn’t changed the last few versions. I used the AV4 plugin with no issues in max r8 beta.

The PURE card does not do any viewport functions at all; it is merely a rendering device.

The new AV5 Beta with GI (and many other enhancements) is due out soon, so until I get that I can’t comment on how fast that works. The samples so far are wonderful, but no benchmarks yet. RenderPipe has had Secondary Illumination for quite some time, which works well but slows things down considerably, just as adding GI in Mental Ray slows things down. I tend to use the 3ds max Radiosity function with PURE for large scenes, and SI for selective areas or on smaller scenes.

As to some of your questions....

Easy: RenderPipe is a very simple interface, and not hard to learn in that respect. Much easier than Mental Ray, certainly. The less you need to fake things, the easier the interface. You can see the latest interface and features at:

http://www.artvps.com/news.ihtml?pa...icle&pressid=81

RP Lights and cameras are much simpler than standard objects, and give additional features such as lens flare and area light capabilities.

You don't have to use the RP Materials, Lights or Cameras to render a scene. Architectural materials will be supported in AV5. You should substitute Raytrace materials for RP materials, however.

Programming: No programming skills are needed whatsoever. If you want to get into programming of shaders you can, but there is no requirements for that. A large subset of Renderman features are supported.

Mental Ray: Easier interface in RP. RenderPipe does not support microtesselation displacements, but you can achieve that affect with a modifier in max. RenderPipe supports RPC. RP supports Radiosity and Secondary Illumination, but not true GI until next version. RP is much, much faster, but RP raytraces Everything. For simple scenes, MR and scanline may be faster because of this. When you add any more complicated functions (reflections, refractions, motion blur, DOF, inverse-square light attenuation, area lights, and so on), RP is the way to go in my opinion.

With RP you can use RenderMan shaders, which opens up a lot of possibilities. ART VPS's HDRI Skylight is a Renderman shader, for instance.

Satellites: I have done a lot of rendering on farms up to 15 computers, which is a royal pain in the neck. Managing that takes a lot of time and energy, and can be quite stressful when things aren’t going right. Buying and upgrading those machines over time takes a lot of money. With a RenderDrive or PURE card, you only manage the machine running the network server/manager and that copy of max (in my case), and not 15 machines. PURE does wonders for my blood pressure. We’ve had our PURE cards for many years and it still beats software, so I feel that it has been a good return on investment.

Tweaking Phase: RP Produces a full-frame preview at about 25% completion, which is a great time saver when you are in the ‘tweak phase’ of a project, and adjusting lighting, etc. With Scanline and MR you have to wait. With Maxwell you get the full-frame progressive update also, but that is not hardware accelerated.

Rendering a single frame on many computers: In max you can Split Scan Lines in a network rendering, which works great with RenderPipe. I will do this even with only one machine rendering as it protects you in the event of problems with the machine (lose power, for instance), and I can check the strips as they are completed to ensure that the rendering is producing what it should (I didn’t mess something up). I cannot comment on Maya’s capabilities with splitting renderings.

RenderPipe does allow you to send any scene to multiple rendering devices at the same time. It will split the scene based on the speed of the remote machines (RenderDrive vs PURE) and wait for completion. So larger portions are sent to RenderDrives, and smaller to PURE. This should work in max and Maya.

Feedback: The renderings that I put onto the www.Render-Art.com site all have the render times listed, and are mostly high-resolution images. ART VPS has a page with speed comparisons at http://www.artvps.com/comparisons.ihtml and I have found their benchmarks to be an accurate representation of the speed you can expect. I’ve also done some comparisons to mental ray using MR’s samples, and have them posted on the Render-Art site.

I think I got everything. You are welcome to post questions at www.render-art.com, and hopefully some of the members there will post here, too.

Have a great day!

- Jennifer
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www.4dartists.com

Last edited by jenni_o : 10 October 2005 at 03:14 PM. Reason: typo
 
Old 10 October 2005   #3
Thank you for your nice reply!

I have a small question.
You wrote:

"The PURE card does not do any viewport functions at all; it is merely a rendering device."


Besides the rendering, does it not work as a regular graphic card?

Last edited by Hans Ulrich : 10 October 2005 at 08:47 AM.
 
Old 10 October 2005   #4
Hi,

PURE does not work as a regular graphics card at all. Think of it as a rendering co-processor. You still need a good graphics video card to handle normal video.

nVIDIA has the Gelato software that uses your graphics card for rendering. You'll also need the Amaretto or Sorbetto plugins for Max or Maya. I've been working with their latest beta, and it is unexpectedly difficult to get it to render the way I expect. It needs more time, I feel.

Enjoy!
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Jenni
www.4dartists.com

Last edited by jenni_o : 10 October 2005 at 08:10 PM. Reason: typo
 
Old 10 October 2005   #5
Ok, I see!
Thank you, very much again Jenni!!!

Anybody else who has anything to say about Art Vps or Maya Satellite rendering?!!!
Anyone who have tested AV5 Beta?
I think Art Vps´s products sounds very good. But it still dont seems to be used that much.
 
Old 10 October 2005   #6
Hi Hans,

AV5 should be out soon, and we'll be discussing it and sharing samples at the www.render-art.com site, so check in there when you get a chance.

I think a hardware rendering system has a more difficult time with getting out there to the people because you cannot simply download or 'share' a plugin and really give it a real try. Software will always have that advantage, at least until ART VPS makes a RenderDrive available on the Internet for testing!

The license I have for MR doesn't allow satellite rendering, so I can't comment on that. Between the hardware (computers) and the licensing for MR, the cost builds up quickly.

The PURE doesn’t fit all needs, certainly, just as MR doesn't fit all needs, but if you are in need of beautiful raytraced images, it is the way to go in my opinion. Perhaps I’m impatient, but I don’t like to wait any longer than I need to!

Have a great day!
__________________
Jenni
www.4dartists.com
 
Old 11 November 2005   #7
also from what i have been told by the Arts VPS team, the renderer they use is based on the Renderman specs and can use a .rib file too, with a small amount of tweaks.
This is wha they told me.

"Although we support the RenderMan interface, we are not 100% drop-in
compatible with prMan specific tools like the RenderMan Artist's Toolkit.
Specifically, Slim shaders will not work without editing them because of
the restrictions in our shader compiler.

Most RIB files will work, although some features of the RenderMan
Interface 3.2 are not implemented, such as Subdivision Surfaces and blobby
primitives.

In summery ,we're not a drop-in replacement for prMan but it should be
really easy to retarget any RenderMan tool chain to our renderer."

Which for me is pretty cool, because i am learning Renderman at school
 
Old 11 November 2005   #8
The renderman support on those cards is incredibly crippled. Large amounts of the RiSpec are limited or do not work at all. The shading language is crippled and has many strange caveats like not allowing temporary assignments for the result colour etc.
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Old 11 November 2005   #9
Thanks for your replies!
I’m thinking, for a start to speed up my renders, to buy a computer with dual AMD Opteron 265 Multicore CPUs. This will give me 4 CPUs and surely speed up my render time compared to my old P4 2.8.


I will mainly use it for architectural visualizations, stills. I will probably stay with mental ray for a while.


Later I might get a Pure render card. I would really like to try one out!
Any one who will sell me a used one (or a Render Drive)?!
 
Old 11 November 2005   #10
Hi,

RenderMan is a specification, not a renderer, and every renderer that uses the RenderMan specification has different subsets that it supports. Even PRMan, Pixar's renderer, didn't support Raytracing until recently, so just because the interface is supported, it is extensible and each renderer can and is different.

There are some very good free RM renderers out there if you are playing with writing shaders. Check out http://www.renderman.org for resources. If you are using max, Maya or Catia and need Raytracing power, then PURE is a lot cheaper and easier than a renderfarm.

Have fun!
__________________
Jenni
www.4dartists.com
 
Old 11 November 2005   #11
i didnt need the renderman lesson but thanks I guess i should have said RIspec or Renderman compliant, but most people glass over when i go off on RISpec info:P I started on 3delight and hand writing my rib files, or generating them at home and editing them in VI, because i cant get Liquid to work, i am not the best code writer. I finally took the plunge and ordered the edu priced Renderman PRo Server and RAT, im stoked to fire it up on my stystem!. Future looks director an all, we have very boring dinner conversation. I am just looking for a way to get my renders done faster. How is the heat generation from the card? it is 16 cpus so i imagine that the thing puts out a decent amount of heat.

Last edited by Oddgit : 11 November 2005 at 04:18 PM.
 
Old 11 November 2005   #12
Hi,

That was more of a comment in response to another person's comments, and a general statement for anyone interested.

Have a fun day!
__________________
Jenni
www.4dartists.com
 
Old 11 November 2005   #13
oh and it was some good info about the RISpec compatability, i was hopeing it was better so i could have my own little render farm.
I remember taliking about Renderman stuff with another student at school, he is a games artist and he looked like steam was gonna shoot from his ears. I think i ended with its all very hard, and you will never need to deal with it.
 
Old 11 November 2005   #14
Another thing for people to look at would be the RenderMan for Maya plugin, Renderman is pretty fast in the scale of renderers, and you get really good results with the RMfM plugin. So you can get tons of the benifits of Renderman loke speed and nice DoF and motion blur, but you loose out on all of the fun code stuff like building shaders from scratch and .dso and i dont think RMfM generates .rib. Anyhoo, sorry fro the thread hijack.

Hey HAns think of the electricity bill that would happen with multi computers, that is another bump in favour of the pure card.
 
Old 11 November 2005   #15
Hi,



I use 3ds max, and the RenderMan interface to PURE is transparent and not something anyone has to understand in that environment. The is true same for Maya and Catia. The RM spec is used for compatibility between platforms. You can program your own shaders, if you want.

I do use a RenderMan HDRI Light shader all the time, and occasionally will use a RM surface shader, but usually don’t have to go beyond what is available within max and the custom shaders from ART VPS. I use Backburner for the renderfarm function, whether it is for one computer with two cards, or if I split our two into different computers.

There is no heat generation issues on the PURE cards that I have seen. I use standard cooling fans in the case, nothing special. If you run dual PURE cards, just make sure you have a 350+ watt power supply if you have a lot of other stuff in your system. A standard PURE card has 8 chips with 16 cores. The new PCI-X version has 16 chips for 32 cores.


Another fun fact is that on dual CPU systems you can render and model with little affect on modeling speed. No need for another computer at all, as long as you have the memory for both processes.


Have fun!
__________________
Jenni
www.4dartists.com
 
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