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A small survey regarding using render farms (for my thesis)

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July 18, 2006 7:50:04 AM

Hello,

wouldn't you mind if I posted here a small survey for my final thesis regarding render farms ?

In case you use your own render farm (and you are individual or a company emploeee), please, could you answer these several easy questions (the more individual answers the better) ?

2 Pre-questions (in case you don't use your own render farm):

A ) Do you use your workstations as render farm or do you have own render farm besides workstation ?
B ) OR Do you outsource rendering services (=does another firm make rendering for you) ?


Other question - please, answer, in case you do use your own render farm:

1) Do you use typical PC (box) or 1U, 2U.. servers in rack ?
2) How many render nodes do you have in your render farm ?
3) What type of processors do you use (AMD or Intel) ?
4) Are there hard drives (HDD) in your machines in render farm or do you run your farm without them ?
5) All of your nodes are "nearly" identical (same type of CPU, "same" cpu speed, same RAM capacity ) ?
6) Which hardware architecture does your render farm have ? (nodes, file server, backup server - storage, how many switches.., 1Gb or 10Gb data transfer...)
7) Which software do you use for rendering in render farm (3rd party net renderer or your own)?
8 ) How many people manage your render farm ? (one worker for HW, one for SW ...?)
9) Which monitoring system do you use for net render (VNC or any other) ?

If you would like to do me a favor and answer these question, you can also use email to send the questioons:

honza_mel@centrum.cz

Thank you very much.
honza_m
July 18, 2006 6:20:54 PM

A) Workstation as render nodes aren't always the best idea - especially if they are Windows machines and have a random collection of software installed.

B) No.

Most places uses 1U blades from IBM and HP. Everything being identical is a good thing as swapping out parts is easier. CPUs: Xeons or Opterons. It doesn't matter - what's cheapest and fastest - hence SPARC and Itanium are out. Blah. Blah. Blah.

To be honest, rendering hardware is a commodity - it's the SAN (Storage Area Network) that's critical. A decent SAN cost half a million easily whereas the blades might be a few hundred thousand and thrown out in a year or two. Monitoring software is another essay in itself. VNC? Um.. nobody uses Windows for render nodes (ok, for Combustion maybe). Every studio is wildly different that I've worked for. Gathering a collection of responses won't enlighten you on what makes a good render farm. A Maya render farm is different from a Combustion-based one...
July 19, 2006 8:50:23 AM

Voxel, thank you for reply.

This survey was posted to find out what people do use.
I guess, PCs are oftern "suitable" for individuals or small firms (due to less costs). Bigger firms or corporations use e.g. 1U blades that cost more money.

You seem to know a lot about 1U render nodes, don't you? :) 
I've been trying to get some information (from web) about pros and cons of 1U 2U render farms, but been unsuccessful so far :( 

The main point that I'd like to know is: A small firm (15 people) consider building a render farm from 1U or 2U nodes:

1. is it possible to upgrade 1 unit (1U box - change RAM, processor...) or do I have to buy another one and throw out the old one ?
2. do the hard-drives have to be in every 1U unit (extra costs) ?
3. Linux as OS is best ?
4. which rendering and monitoring software ?
5. how many people is needed to administrate ?
6. what this all cost approximately ?

Voxel, if this doesn't bother you, please, could you tell me some links (in case you know) about this matter or some information?

May I ask you some questions if I'm onto something ?

Thank you very much.
honza_m
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July 19, 2006 6:46:07 PM

1U and 2U saves space over buying a bunch of mid-tower desktop machines. I'm not a Render Wrangler, but I know 1U/2U machines are easy to service. Hard-drives slide out and the case is usually flip-open. And hardware will fail. The extra cost is a room that is air conditioned and air filtered. You also need serious power to power 10-20 1U blades and a reliable SAN + switch. A UPS is a good idea too, but all depends on your budget. 15 people? Well a blade farm might be overkill. What is your budget? $50K? $500k?

Anyhow, you should know what rendering software you are using. That's primary. It's like buying a PC - first you need to know what you are using it for (i.e games, 3D, editing, web-surfing) then everything follows.
May 8, 2013 10:36:57 PM

You know I had similar problem but these helped me a lot: garagefarm.net . They didn't even charge me for small corrections.
!