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# of Core for Rendering

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January 26, 2010 4:22:01 AM

I am putting together a system is build for some heavy duty Mental Ray and Renderman rendering with Maya (it will be used for as gaming computer as well). I'd like to spend around $2000 on it , but I'm willing to spend $3000 if the performance will be significantly increased.

My main dilemma is the amount of cores for the machine. I know that Mental Ray can spread itself on many cores in order to save on render times. I was wondering if I should build a Nehalem 16-core, or would a Quad i7 suffice (it is a lot cheaper).

Here are the 3 combinations, and their prices:

16-Core
MOBO - SUPERMICRO MBD-X8DAi-O Dual LGA 1366 Intel 5520 Extended ATX Dual Intel Xeon Processor 5500 sequence (Nehalem-EP processor) Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$379.99

CPU - 2x Intel Xeon E5520 Nehalem 2.26GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 80W Quad-Core Server Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$ 769.98

TOTAL: $1149.97


Quad-Core
MOBO - Asus P6TD Deluxe Intel X58 Socket LGA1366 Motherboard - Socket 1366, ATX, Audio, PCI Express 2.0, USB 2.0, RAID
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite...$89.99
$299.99

CPU - Intel Core i7 860 Processor - 2.80GHz, LGA 1156, 8MB L3 Cache, Quad-Core, Lynnfield, Retail
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
$289.99

TOTAL: $589.98


Quad-Core, Hyperthread
MOBO - Asus P6TD Deluxe Intel X58 Socket LGA1366 Motherboard - Socket 1366, ATX, Audio, PCI Express 2.0, USB 2.0, RAID
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite...$89.99
$299.99

CPU - Intel Core i7 920 Processor BX80601920 - 2.66GHz, LGA 1366, 4.8GT/s QPI, 8MB L3 Cache, Quad-Core, HyperThreading, Bloomfield, Retail
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
$289.99

TOTAL: $589.98

or, if you know better than me, I'd love to be humbled :) .

As you can see, the quads are about half the price. So they are quite enticing...monetary wise. Would a 16 core hyper thread be significantly faster?

Thank you for reading, and for any advice.

More about : core rendering

a b à CPUs
January 26, 2010 4:35:01 AM

Technically, the first setup is an 8 core with hyperthreading, not a 16 core.

As for speed? The 8 core HT setup with the pair of Xeon 5520 would be the fastest by a significant margin.
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a b à CPUs
January 26, 2010 4:50:50 AM

All setups have Hyperthreading (therefore 4 physical cores with 8 logical cores; 8 physical, 16 logical for the first setup), and the only significant difference between the last two for you would be that the i7 860 clocks a bit higher than the i7 920 under full load.

Hyperthreading adds about 15% performance in mental ray from my experience, but I'm sure it will vary depending on the scene. The first setup should be a little less than 2x faster than the others in mental ray, but I don't know about RenderMan.
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a b à CPUs
January 26, 2010 12:20:22 PM

If you have software that is multi-core capable and you have the budget then it's a no-brainer - throw as many cores at it as you can, so I'd go for the dual Xeon system.

HOWEVER if your software can utilise GPGPU technologies like CUDA (not sure about your two) then do a bit of research and see what the performance differences between pure CPU and CPU+GPU rendering are. If you see a significant improvement using GPU processing you may be better off sticking with a single overclocked CPU and getting a monster GPU setup instead (which will also boost your gaming).
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a b à CPUs
January 26, 2010 10:04:31 PM

Mental ray 3.8 has some NVIDIA-only GPGPU capabilities thanks to CUDA, and will be released on Jan 31 (standalone only I think, products incorporating it probably won't get it until a few months later). I'm not sure what the extent of those capabilities are though.
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January 28, 2010 4:14:38 AM

Thanks for the replies Ladies & Gentlemen.

I just had the pleasure of working on dual xeon e5410 machine with Mental Ray and the renders rip!

Randomizer, you are correct in that only mental ray stand alone supports CUDA capabilities. Though I think that some of the current GTX cards already support Cuda. I'll wait till 31 to see what comes out and how much it cost.

Thanks
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