Rendering time estimate

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  01 January 2007
Rendering time estimate


I was thinking in doing some upgrading... rendering power needs a boost. My current system is a E6600/4Gb/X64. For about $1300 I could replace the MB and CPU with dual quad xeons 1.6GHz (keeping the RAM). My question is what decrease in rendering times I should expect from this... I have Maya complete and XP X64, will it be able to use all 8 cores to begin with?
  01 January 2007
Will you really be able to keep the ram? Is it FB-Dimms? Xeon motherboards are quite picky about eth type of ram they use so you should check that...
  01 January 2007
Hmm you might be right, I just glanced at the MB specs and saw DDR II SDRAM and that's what I have. Forgot about the registered/buffered thing they have going.. will check. Thanks!

Edit: Meh... they need to be fully buffered.. my Corsair TWIN2X 6400C4 DDR2's aren't. By selling them them I'd still have to put in at least about $350 for new ones.

Last edited by Framed : 01 January 2007 at 06:14 PM.
  01 January 2007
For $1300 why not look into making or starting to make a small render farm?
  01 January 2007
Because then I know I'll need more render licenses. Besides it's not final render times that bothers me the most, it's the many testrenders I do while finetuning the lighting/shading. Last time I checked a renderfarm won't help much rendering a single frame or a section of a frame from within Maya. Could be wrong though, just never heard of it.
  01 January 2007
This question needs to be asked:

You have an E6600 with 4GBs of RAM running XP-64 and you aren't happy with the render times??? I would be willing to bet that most pros in high-end studios don't have a PC with those specs.
You might wanna take a serious look at your workflow/settings if a system like that seems slow... and I mean that in the nicest way possible cuz I know from experience that tweeking things here and there can cut huge chunks out of your render times.
  01 January 2007
A legitimate question, I know where you're coming from. But there's nothing wrong with my workflow, or at least seriously wrong . I've been using Maya professionally since the day it came out, and the predecessor Alias Poweranimator since 1994, optimizing my scenes is second nature to me by now. The problem is I'm a one-man show these days, sometimes several projects at a time, that demands a little more than the typical workstation at a big studio. I'm mostly animating and delivering animated scenes, but I also take projects where I need to do the whole shibang, from modeling to rendering and composited clips. Not many enough to justify a dedicated render farm yet though. But when I do render, the typical scenario is a render batch in the background while at the same time working with at least one other heavy application for some other projects. A 8-core machine would allow me to basically distribuite processing power at will in the same machine without the hassle - and cost - of a render farm. And like I said, with one machine instead of a render farm I can use all CPU's on every single testrender.

A E6600 will do, 4-5 minutes for a testrender isn't much but doing 25 of them on a day add up and that is time I spend doing nothing usefull, I quit smoking 2 years ago so I no longer need these breaks - I just sit around staring at the render or watching some useless crap on youtube

Last edited by Framed : 01 January 2007 at 05:31 AM.
  01 January 2007
There are systems that will distribute single frames over a network, granted you still need more licenses depending on your renderer. But it is possible.

Dual quad core Xeons is definately going to offer alot more parallelism, but at the cost of single threaded performance. Your current system will probably outperform that Xeon system in terms of UI performance (meaning smoother animation playback in the interface, faster deformations, bones, etc, all in the view ports). Your render times should drop, depending on how many processors your renderer's license covers. Even if you have a single machine, renderers such as mental ray only support a specific number of cores in thier license, which means you'd have to upgrade the license if you dont have room for 8... I'd look into the specifics of your license. But technically the renderer should easily support 8 CPUs.
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  01 January 2007
Lots is right about single-threaded performance for animators. I don't know about maya but Mental Ray for one is optimised for multi-threaded performance, and its licence is per socket not per core. I still woudn't got for those underpowered xeons though. Its not worth the compromise.

If you just wanted to get more cores going you could consider a core 2 quad - will double the amount of available cores, and you don't need to replace anything else, as long as your motherboard will support it. Worth getting a decent cooler though as these things run hot

Coming from a P4 to a quad, my render times were significantly higher - 1min27 secs to 12 secs for a test scene using xsi/mental ray. I don't know what kind of performance gain you'll get coming from a 6600, which is pretty good already. I think overall you might be better off waiting a little bit and upgrading the whole shebang, or selling it second-hand to finance part of a dual xeon?
  01 January 2007
FRAMED - because of what you posted, have you tried looking into a RenderDrive (or possibly something like Gelato)? I personally am totaly against proprietary hardware solutions, but honestly in your situation a RenderDrive might be a good solution. I know it's off topic from your original question, but it sometimes seems that no matter what kind of regular hardware you throw at a program, you are only going to see minimal speed increases - especially for certain tasks such as single frame test renders. Just a though.
  01 January 2007
Yupp reduced interactivity would suck. Unfortunatly quad xeons at the same speed as the E6600 are twice the price so it's not an option. Will look for solutions for rendering single frames on a render network, in that case it kinda makes sense getting a dedicated renderer. The kentsfield is also a bit pricey but might be worth it if I just need to swap CPU's without the mess of reinstalling XP - have to check on that. Hardware like the renderdrive aren't an option because I don't want to switch renderer, I only use mentalray and maya's own. I don't think such solutions have matured yet.. it's taking a damn long time, I wonder if it will ever. Gaming cards might catch up to software renderers not in a too distant future though, at the pace it's going! More R&D in that I guess. Feedback appreciated, helped a lot. Thanks..
  01 January 2007
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