Do you need a Render Farm?
- Large studios and 3D artists need a fast computer
system to render all their work in as less time as
possible. But it should't be restricted to those larger
firms. Even one-men companies and artists need to put the
renderers through their machines and that takes a lot of
time, especially if one has only one computer, other
creative work has to wait.
- Additional machines are vital for this sort of work.
And the good news is that the hardware is available, just
choose the right one with an attractive price tag and
don't forget the licenses fee. We consider two types of
- 1. conventional CPU based render
- 2. GPU CUDA (NVIDIA) based render
- The first option only needs a fast processor
with as much cores and enough RAM as efficiently
possible. And of course a good graphic card that supports
the program to the screen. Most of the render programs
are of the first category (for instance Artlantis and
- The second option is the rather new
possibility where the render program is exclusively
dependable on the number of cores in the Graphic Card,
the speed of the processor(s) and the amount of RAM in
the GPU. Only a few programs fell into this category (for
instance Octane Render, Bunkspeed, iRay and Mental
- The hudge features and possibilities of a GPU CUDA
based render system is obvious to everyone involved. The
artist is able to put together one render machine with
two or more fantastic GPU's on board to make one big
multi-core parallel processor engine. All renders fly
through this engine if it was a Render Farm with hunderts
of single computers in a data centre.
So few render programs based on CUDA GPU's on the
- Everyone agrees that it will be 'on our wishlist
for future updates' but that is easy to say in a
Render Forum to impatient waiting customers. Who
sometimes do not know waht they are really asking for.
They probably has to change and renew their computer
hardware outfut to incorporate the new GPU's with the new
PCI & third generation of slots in the
- When or even IF that time comes, that is never
specified by the render brands administrators. There is a
Dutch expression for that "stretching and stay
alive". Or in other words waiting for better days or
perhaps take on your whishing well or magic stick. In
the meantime there is a growing group of professional
customers that become aware what is actually going on.
And they are not amused at all by the misty answers,
following numerous Render Fora.
The reasons that big brand names in Render World do
not have such a render program on their shelf :
- 1. we'll wait till things changes in our
- 2. we have invested so much time in the
conventional program, that it whould be a waste of time
and money to change right now. Or throw away our customer
base by changing from CPU to GPU.
- 3. the parallel processing hype will blow away
and something others will take it's place, for instance
faster CPU processors or else.
- 4. one big world leading firm did just right
that (the nr. 3) and that is Intel. They told the
whole world each day after day that the CPU will
eventually overrul all the parallel GPU-stuff. "It is
easier to maintain and everyone could incorporate and use
it in all kind of (other) programs too".
- 5. See "Intel, NVIDIA draw battle lines
over parallel processing" in Computerworld june
- The title of NVIDIA to the world was rather clear:
"debunking the 100 x GPU vs. CPU myth, evaluation of
throughput computing on CPU and GPU". NVIDIA was
discussing the Intel paper about a performance test CPU
versus GPU stating: "Our data shows that GTX280 only has
an average of 2.5X performance advantage over Core i7 in
the 14 kernels tested".
- And of course in the meantime the GTX type mentioned
is a rather slow and dated GPU nowadays. But the Intel
researchers were not amused when they were asked to
produce the necessary evidence and research setup.
They did not do that at all. Without this vital
information it was not possible to repeat Intel's test to
confirm the paper's findings. Or to understand how the
used programming code was optimatized for the chips.
NVIDIA Andy Keane (general manager of GPU computing)
said: "It's just bad science". Scientif proof is
only proofed if it is declaired and documented enough to
check the findings.
- 6. But time changes and even Intel was no
longer able to go any further on that road and they told
the world that parallel processing could be the future
with their newly developed Intel Xeon Phi Co-processor,
which they believe that it delivers a greater aggregate
performance for highly parallel processing while
elimating dual-programming architecture. Go Parallel
seems the new direction (Intel introduced the Xeon mid
- Maxwell screen during network render option with
- Each node needs an extra software
- 7. In the past the GPU was the computer part
that brought all those ones and nulls of the processor in
the right porportion to the screen. But that was then,
nowadays with NVIDIA CUDA cores a GPU is more or less a
fantastic working horse that is able to calculate miljons
of expressions with lighting speed.
- Quite another task then the CPU, that has a much
wider range in handling series of instructions in
sequential order. The new GPU is no substitute for the
CPU, the CPU remains the main processor in the
motherboard that controls everything. The CUDA GPU is a
parallel processor that can handle rather simple
instructions parallel (at the same time). More cores in
the GPU calculate directly into more throughput per
second. Or faster rendering.
- 8. Although the modern CPU are copying the
parallel processor's way by adding more cores to their
processors. But that number is not at all comparable
against the big CUDA GPU's.
- 9. All those marvels of parallel processing
demands one other vital part in the process: an
Application that is optimized to run on a CUDA CPU.
- And that whole process not only can be time consuming
but it IS an WILL be time consuming and very expensive.
Figure out that the standard development room had to
be expanded to accommodate new fresh developers just
graduated from university. Under the leading
professor Tanenbaum of the VNU university in
Amsterdam the university is selected as a CUDA
Teaching Center educating students for parallel
- New CUDA centers continue to spread the world about
GPU-related parallel courses.
- VU Amsterdam aangewezen als NVIDIA CUDA Teaching
Center (Mrt 2012)
- The course material is:
- class 1: Introduction, performance metrics &
class 2: Many-core hardware.
class 3: Cuda basics.
class 4: Advanced Cuda.
class 5: Many-core processing for the LOFAR
- Also, they give hands-on experience with CUDA and/or
OpenCL in the parallel programming practical.
- 10. The first applications that take advantage
of the huge speed of parallel processing are found in the
financial analysis and scientific field. A higher
performance outweigh the added cost for code
optimization. And in the Render World Octane Render
managed to put version 1 on the market at the end of
2012. Further Bunkspeed renderer. NVIDIA is
issuing fine render programs (iRay and Mental
Ray, besides several other well known programs where
the engines are put into) that depend on CUDA cores.
Every brand can buy them and add their own interface to
it. In Render Principles you can read all about it.
- It is very hard to program efficiëntly for GPU
CUDA and special skills are needed. Many months of
testing and correcting will and must follow after ...
years of work. A lot of money is involved to get it right
and in the right timeframe and that can be difficult for
a lot of brands.
11. Again: who needs a Render Farm?
- Several ways to approach this question: build your
own or let it build to your specifications. Or buy
pre-built standard boxes that are put together to form
one big render engine. Or shift to one of the more then
twenty Render Farms on the internet to let them calculate
your renders in more or less time. Of course by a Render
Farm that's suits your render application!
- Each solution has it's own advantages and
disadvantages. Only renting virtual time elsewhere seems
the right choice: only buy something when needed.
No costs whatsoever when you do not need the big engines.
Watch out for the blurred calculation prices, it
sometimes looks like the Mobile Telephone world.
Calculators to depect your price concluded as if you are
rendering beforehand with your own computer. But the
answer is simple if we incorporate the new parallel CUDA
processor capabilities and dito compatible render
applications. Then the balance is easy pointing in
another direction, GPU rendering.
- Or, if someone draw designs that must remain secure
whatever the cost, then a Render Farm inside is the
'only' solution. Or if there are so many designs to
render that it is logical to incorporate all these
machines inside the studio or company. They are 'always'
available day and night, when needed if one has foresee
in a proper power backup aswel.
"1700 CPU's to your desktop at
only 5 cents / GHz"
- Render Farming is the solution to a graphic
job to spread the work over to many machines at the same
time. New is that the configuration and feasibility of
such a system is on a low budget possible. The question
remain: is the studio big enough to put all those
machines together to make a new troughput in
- The movie- and animation world could not exist if
there where no Render Farms. How much faster is possible?
Dramatically, if we speak about tens or even
hunderts of renders. Just put in one render and the need
of a Render Farm has gone. Most of them are not able to
devide a page into more sections that could be calculated
by different machines to stich together later on. So one
page in one machine is not uncommon. Render programs that
are network compatible (for instance Maxwell, V-Ray,
Cinema 4D, 3ds Max etc.) can split the calculation in
seperate processes. And that translates directly in a
- In the Render Farm the number of cores and the
processor speed concludes if this is faster or slower
then the stand-alone machine at your desk. Render Farms
magnetizes their customers by telling how much faster 100
(animation) or more renders could be calculated at the
same time. But if this is a daily practice, then the
studio already will be prepared for such sort of work.
Common practice is different and one has to deal with
customers that are changing till the last deadline
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