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Hardware choice for your Render Farm

There is a trend to use the cheapest motherboard and relative slow processor to build a modest Render Farm. The hardware cost can be well under $ 500,- each.
But there is an other fact to consider. By the introduction of faster processors and systems, the application and algortihms take full advantage of their CPU capabilities. Or is it the otherway round, the application is demanding more and the hardware is following? The outcome is the same, your application more or less demands a good and fast processor and lot of RAM. Remember that applications are updated with new and exiting tools and possibilities, are you going with it, or stay behind?
While the animation enthusiast was one year ago happy with 10 hours rendering for a part of his animation it cost now, with a new update of the application 15 hours on the same hardware. Because of new features that were not available at that time. Or even worse, the application does not operate well anymore after upgrading within the same hardware and operating system environment.
And then consider the price of the application license(s) and of the operating system, is it low compared to the hardware investment or rather high?

So make a good comparison between those forces

Watch out for buying a shit load of computer junk unless you have some good job for it. The upgrading of software and computer may be faster then you think. Really think about that beforehand.

Less machines means less power, costing less to run and takes up less roomspace. Maintenance or failure.


Less machines means less licenses and dito upgrades. All slave machines need the rendering software license And less to install or maintain.


Faster machines work better with a lot of RAM.


Less machines with faster processors (more cores) could be the right solution.


Consider the use of a Render application that has network facilities with nodes available. What is the price for say five slaves and one server?

Render applications could be Indigo for Revit, V-Ray, Cinema 4D, Maxwell, Revizto for Revit, 3 ds Max and Maya. But more applications will follow because the customers are asking for this kind of accelleration.

No seriously, I know that finished animations are likely to be sent off to commercial renderfarms.. But what about local test renders? Even single frame renders? Most people aren't aware that you can slave render nodes to help do renders even in single frame renders on most tile/bucket based renderers, particularly VRay.

The Render Nodes
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The Render Nodes are the slave computers that actually render the frames. To add a computer as a Render Node to the network, double-click on the mx_node shortcut icon.
You can only run Maxwell Render in network if you have more than one license, for example 2 Standard licenses or 1 Standard license and 1 RenderNode. You can then use the Standard license to run your main machine, where you set up your scenes and the Manager to distribute jobs. The RenderNode license can be used to run an additional machine for rendering only. Always make sure that all the machines in your network have access to the Maxwell installation folder where your license file is located.
When the Rendernode is running, its console panel is opened to display information about the status of the render.
Further documentation
You can find the hardware and Graphic Card information in this book (edition 2013). Including the new trends in Render applications:

If you limit the choice of operating system to Linux with corresponding Linux Render Application then renew your calculation for choosing 'slower' machines. Perhaps even older ones that are easilly available. With luck you find a Linux (open source) controller as well to control the slaves.

I need some unwanted computers to build a render farm (in orlando) help! Any ideas?


RenderFarm, do you have any alternatives to building a render farm for a small studio?
There are Linux render farms where you simply create a cloud for all kind of calculation including rendering. Of course you will not be able to use 3ds max on it. But most high end 3d animation software like Maya for Linux, Houdini, Softimage and Blender will do.

ClusterF -24 core Linux Cluster in a different IKEA Case

Network rendering tutorial Maxwell

Render Farm considerations

If your business grows
Distributed rendering without textures on slaves?

Complete home and Render Farm help

2012 Render Farm Magic
Inspirational brave rabbit playground in building your own renderfarm into an IKEA Helmer cabinet running MacOSX.

How to Set Up an After Effects Render Farm (both Mac / Windows)




What is ButterflyNetRender™?

ButterflyNetRender is a network rendering controller for Lightwave 3D,
Maya (In the Professional Version), 3DS Max and more...
ButterflyNetRender™ works with 2 applications:
* The BNR Controller and the BNR Client.
* The BNR Controller manages and distributes the scenes to be rendered.
The BNR Client renders scenes as instructed by the controller.
ButterflyNetRender will run on Windows Vista, Windows 2003, WindowsXP, WindowsNT, Windows2000, Windows98, and WindowsME and the BNR Clients will also run under OSX and Linux.


Fantastic animation made as a demo for Siggraph exhibition




What could be done with the right tools . . .
Movie animation Ruin is put into the spotlight by multimedia developer Wes MacDermott who covers a wide range of topics with occlussion culling, and using Beast for lightmapping as he walks you through the making process.
Conrad Allan, digital environment artist, Brisbane Australia


Before all other considerations about hardware and operating system, make a study of the new upcoming Render programs that uses the GPU CUDA cores. All the proposels above could be out of the way if you like the CUDA NVIDIA idea. In one machine with a new motherboard, heavy power supply, PCIe slots with generation 3 and with enough space around the GPU's you can build your own super computer or even mainframe wise in one cabinet. The only thing is that you choose for one of the Render applications that are available for CUDA rendering. In the meantime Render brands are working very hard to put more then one Render Engine in the software, so that the user could choose between CUDA render or CPU Open CL. The hardware choice of rendering is upto the customer.

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