My future Dually system..


#1

Im plotting for my next system, considering that i’m already running into some problems with my current system and high poly models and scenes :wink: Also I’m running into the problem of wanting to do other stuff while i wait for test renders to run… anyway i’ve decided that my next system will most definately be a Dual CPU system probably with at least 2 GB of ram possibly more if my buget allows :wink: I know i wont be buying the system for quite some time but i thought i’d do a little digging to see what all is interesting to me…

For the CPUs i wanted Dual Opterons… now for lightwave … i know AMD hasnt traditionally been the CPU of choice… but seeing as how at this level it seems a much more even playing field… and that with a NUMA aware xp64 at the end of the year, this could possibly lead to good results (im going to wait and see) And also with the Dual cored Opterons appearing sometime in 05 it might be an even better deal… So as far as CPU goes do you all think dual Opterons will be a good choice for my dually system or should i go the Xeon route…?

Right now im leaning more towards the Opteron for its pure number crunching abilities and memory bandwidth and its ability to scale as you add CPUs to the system… But im pretty open to either option. The main reason to go dually for me is so i can render test stills and actually do something else constructive at the same time…

Also i’ve been looking at Nvidia’s recent reincarnation of SLI from the voodoo2 days… and it looks to be pretty interesting as well and i might have to take a look at it, since in theory it can offer up to 1.9 times the performance as a single card can… which could be worth it when it comes to high poly models and scenes…

Anyway just any thoughts on the Opteron and Lightwave? Keep in mind lightwave isnt my single deciding factor seeing as this is my personal system and will probably be playing games and serving up game servers every now and then… tho Lightwave is a major player in what i decide to buy in the end so any thoughts would be appreciated :slight_smile:

EDIT: Oh another thing, i dont really want a big lecture of whats better, i know the strenghts of each, i am more concerned right now about the performance it will deliver in lightwave… and only that as i’ve been considering this for quite some time and will continue to consider it while i wait for xp64 and new benchmarks from around then to turn up…


#2

I can’t really comment on the dual Opteron system, but I’ve heard great things about them :smiley: I just bought a dual 3.06Ghz Xeon system last week and it runs beautifully - as you mentioned, multi-tasking becomes really breezy, and I can use Photoshop and LightWave simultaneously with no lag. It’s bliss :slight_smile: I’ve been breaking it in with some massive textures for… ermm… something I can’t talk about but the workload is very, very heavy and the machine handles it just fine!

So I can vouch that the Xeon system works really nicely with LightWave. But I am sure that more people will reply here and give some more views and opinions, so it’ll be interesting to see how this thread might evolve :slight_smile:

I’m also very interested in hearing any tips for tweaking a dual system for optimum performance in 3D applications (using Windows XP).


#3

Yeah, I’d like to hear any tip on optimizing dually systems as well :slight_smile: I think though, with my purchase probably happening in the winter… hopefully i’ll see more information about how the Opteron’s NUMA architecture helps out in 3D rendering when windows XP 64 is out… and probably new Graphics card technology as well :wink:

Not to say my current rig is bad… if i weren’t into Lightwave there would be no reason to upgrade… but im starting to hit brick walls whenever im waiting for a render to finish :wink:


#4

When rendering out, don’t bother with multithreading – rather risky for glitches etc.

Instead, if you have the RAM, just run Layout as a Screamernet controller and run 2 nodes, each singlethreaded. This will get nearly 100% speed out of each CPU, as close to perfect double speed as you’ll get.

I do that on my dual Athlon 2200+ with 2GB.


#5

Thanks a lot for the tip, Courtjester :thumbsup: I didn’t think of that option before :slight_smile: I currently have 2Gb of DDR EEC RAM, so I should be able to run it well.

I hope Screamernet has improved somewhat since the last time I used it (back in 2002). We used to run a large renderfarm on it at a studio I used to work at, and we had endless problems with images not being saved, and weird scene loading problems. But then perhaps those are problems that won’t happen on a single workstation.


#6

Doesn’t running two instances of Layout confuse the Hub?

If you have the stomach for it, run the rendering via the command line. Then you could use a single instance of Layout and not confuse the hub. (I’ve never tried this on a dual machine, but it seems like it should work.)

Mark


#7

I wrote this a while back, added some bits to it today. This is for overall speed not just for 3d.

These tips work on almost any M$ install, some work on Linux too)

Starting from installl. Avoid the same partition for Windows and Software. It may be easy to do, it is also a bad idea. Keep things out of program files and less things can go wrong.

You should have two drives in a machine at a minimum. One runs the OS, the other runs the swap file. Running any processor without this step is pure suicide on the part of performance. Your processor is so fast it is waiting for even the fastest drive on the planet (This is true of almost ANY cpu). The more a drive has to do, the longer the processor has to wait. With Windows, the swap file is used so often you want the fastest drive running it. If you can, SCSI will always outperfrom IDE with windows, making any machine more responsive. It shouldn’t be this way but it is:(

BTW, a swap file should be optimised. Using a dynamic (let windows manage my virtual memory) is a very bad idea. It allows the swap file to become fragmented instantly. Find a disk that has no files on it, then point Windows swap file to it and set both the minimum and maximum to the same size. If you do this with files on the disk you will fragment the swap file during creation (Blame Microsoft for this stupidity). This will impact overall performance.

Fire up the device manager and check the IRQ’s. Do not allow any IRQ sharing on the graphics card. This will cause slowdowns all over the place. Better quality motherboards do not have this problem.

For hardware during installs. Check that Windows is using your driver and not it’s own generic driver. Generic drivers can make the difference between slow and rocket fast. Also, check the motherboard vendo for bios updates. They may be tricky, but if they have fixes for memory issues, any machine will receive an instant upgrade.

I’m assuming most people are making the mistake almost all of the smaller groups make by running production machines on the net. So…

In XP enable the TCP/IP filters or better still, leave XP alone and run a 3/4/586 in front of your machine running Linux or BSD for net access. (Openwall Linux is the easiest to maintain and runs with 16Mb of ram, configuring IPtables is difficult though for a newbie) Let the machine deal with net access and firewalling. One less task for XP to do and one less worry. If you use two network cards you can use this to share net connections.

Remove access to any of the M$ internet suite applications, do not use pirate applications ( Many people do and many apps have backdoors built into the cracks). Most importantly do not run Netmeeting and finally, wipe out all of those gimmicky internet accelerator, download accelerator, gozilla type rubbish which bombard machines with spyware.

Visit the anti spyware sites for software that does the same without the penalties (Spyware will slow down your machine btw, not noticeably alone but in coordination with the rest of the garbage on most machines…). This obviates the need for personal firewalls which block outgoing connections(You can also use the external firewall box for this to block certain sites)

If you run Firefox and Thunderbird over the MS things, 99% of attacks are no longer viable… If you need a download manager Filehound is very secure and very safe (also free). Then you can Kill any AV software once and for all (A major waste of CPU power). If you still feel unstafe. Fsecure’s Fprot for Dos, (for dos because it’s free and Windows XP runs it fine and catches XP issues) can check your machine when you tell it to. Under no circumstances should a production machine be running Norton or anything like it. AV tools hook into the OS and make things unstable and slow for production.

When you install and a piece of software which says remind you of blah bla, say never. The same goes for any piece of software that suggest monitoring file types. Anything that is monitoring anything is wasting CPU cycles and slowing a machine down.

Kill all of the M$ gimmicks, Active directory on desktop, automatic updates, fancy animations (they really kill a machine), disable the screen saver (most important step of all), disable any services in the M$ panel you do not need. This means wiping out most of the garbage. Things like remote registry, Automatic updates (AKA glaring security hole,) server, routing, remote desktop (use ssh with Cygwin) can be disabled on almost all machines. (ssh with cygwin and some fancy ssh trickery can make you a free VPN which is very powerful, allow you to separate an internet network from an internal network as well as allow encrypted email access)

To speed up network share access for net rendering, you can run Samba on a Unix box which has far less overhead and is much faster than the Windows version. You can also add the host entries to local machines by hand (can’t remember where windows puts the hosts file) to stop Windows trying to resolve host names. Oh and wiping out drive indexing is not a bad idea at all (Toaster users have this done for them).

!!!CAUTION WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU DID HERE AND BACKUP!!!
At the run entry or dos prompt, run gpedit.msc and kill most of the things you do not need and should not be running. Autorun CD discs for instance under Windows is a major killer. As above, anything which is fancy or gimmicky comes at a performance cost.

You can go to a site with Windows registry fixes and enable things like the no swap executive (if you do 3d you have the ram to leave the executive in memory), fix the network share remote execution bug (makes network browsing very slow valid for any NT variant), there are so many it’s easier to just find what you want at a site. Read the documentation well, toying with the registry can do some serious damage to an install.

There is a lot more but this should be a good start.

Disclaimer.

I’m an experienced OS and hardware platform designer that does 3d and fx work (location and health reasons), not god.

I can and do make mistakes, typos and am not familiar with every single Windows and IBM compatible intricacy and have no intention of ever learning them all unless I design them, so follow the above at your own risk. I take no responsibility if you destroy the world:)

Double check any step gleaned from this text from another source if you do not know what you are doing, I may have typed something wrong.

Happy tweaking

X


#8

Arte thanks for the great tips :wink: but being a Computer Engineering major and currently working as computer staff for the math dept at my school, most of these things i already do… somewhat second nature :wink: At home my firewall/nat machine runs smoothwall (a variatoin of linux with a nice web interface) my web server runs a flavor of debian, and my desktop, gentoo when im not using lightwave ;)… anyway so I’ve already been doing what you have suggested… I already run a fairly clean and quick system… i’ve never had any real slow downs… but it being a XP2100+ i’ve been noticing that it stutters when im trying to render anything a little complicated every now and then… probably showing its age a little… in either case i know im limited (modeling wise) by the graphics card which is starting to get a little old :wink:

In either case i’d like to get running on a dual system if money and whats out will work with me :slight_smile: … really i want to know if anyone’s using opterons and how they’re doing stacked up against the xeons… since im not finding very many opteron comparisons to xeons while using lightwave, its fairly hard to determine which is actually better in most cases… so far it seems they’re about equal and if so i’ll be buying opteron for other reasons besides lightwave

also running screamer net insted of multi threaded rendering with layout sounds like a good idea, ill be sure to compare when i get a dual system :wink:


#9

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