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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Ohio, US

    Render Farm question

    I know this is a pretty generic question, but, theoretically, could you buy 10 - 20 of these

    with a few other parts, and make an effective render farm?

    I ask to see if this is a path worth investigating. I've always built my own systems, nothing like this however. Perhaps I'm showing my ignorance of the subject. Just a thought and wondering if anyone here has experience with this sort of thing.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Never built or used a render farm, so someone else might have another opinion of this, than me.
    But I say:

    A render farm is nothing more than a bunch of computers hooked up together via a regular network.
    It doesn't matter what kind of computer, or if they are the same model or not.

    Though, it will be easier to maintain your farm if every computer is the same.
    Especially on the software side.

    BTW, I read somewhere some years ago that an AMD and an Intel processor will render the same image
    a bit differently because of the architectural differences.
    Is this true? It sounds far fetched.

    Fast CPU and a decent amount of RAM is the key to making a good render farm.
    But generally, anything goes. The more the merrier.

    GFX cards are useless, unless you are using a GPU powered renderer.
    Sound cards are indeed useless on all levels imaginable.

    Disk drive size is reliant on how you set up your system.
    No need setting up each node with a 1TB disk if you're only going to copy all assets from a central host,
    and send back the finished images to the same host, or a central file server.

    I would find me an appropriate software system first,
    before I look at server nodes and then make some decisions about what to put into the servers.

  3. #3
    I've only been doing it a couple months and know next to nothing, but when rendering I've been using the Maya/MentalRay software to use 5 nodes (self built) in my office network. The system was easy to set up. Was interested to see some Render Managers (like RenderPal) will provide free licenses to small (3) node farms.

    My thought is to learn by using existing equipment The goal is to have as much artistic headroom as possible that my wife will let me afford :-) Also ease of management as time is always in short supply. For these reasons I'm leaning more toward newer Xeons than older.

    Here's a link that got me started:

    How to Build Your Own Render Farm

    Googling "small render farm" I've found some interesting cost/benefit analyses. I'd be curious to hear about your experiences. I'm sure there are plenty of people here, though, who know A LOT more.

  4. #4
    Oops--see the link above did not work. Here's the URL:,2340.html

    in case this doesn't work again: Build Your Own Render Farm

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by Harrysun View Post
    I know this is a pretty generic question, but, theoretically, could you buy 10 - 20 of these
    I would strongly recommend against it. This computers are very old, have little memory and first electricity bill will kill you.

    If you want to buy something this might be a good idea:

    Cheapest dual Xeon computer might be a good alternative, you can get used HP Z600 on ebay for 20% of original price and buy 2 Xeon processors.

    Good alternative might be to use cheap commercial render farm as mine, we are 3-10 times cheaper than competitors and there are options for free rendering too (like free 1/4 full length previews). I know service sounds worse than having your own hardware but I believe that with our prices and experience it might be something to consider.
    Rent entire farm for $6.13 /h or $147 /a day!*
    * Prices before discounts!

    Skype: GarageFarm.NET

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    In my room.
    Your advertisement may make some people upset, but I looked at your website and it looks like a very useful service. I can't say I'll personally be using it any time soon(just no need for it) but I do have a question, have you looked at the unreal engine 3 swarm? I don't know how difficult it would be to get that set up on your render farm but it's definitely something you should check out.

    Renting out someone elses render farm does seem like a much better option than running your own considering how expensive they are to run in terms of electricity.
    I'm so negative, like an electron.

  7. #7
    Hello again,

    I guess unreal engine will be very expansive, there is even no pricing on their webpage. :P
    Rent entire farm for $6.13 /h or $147 /a day!*
    * Prices before discounts!

    Skype: GarageFarm.NET

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Nr London, UK
    Here we go again

    There are loads of threads on it, and i'm not going to repeat myself, do a quick search on these forums.

    Secondly, its not so much the electricity, its ever so easy to spend 50k on machines.

    Software licenses can outstrip machines, meaning, it can be cheaper to upgrade to new kit, than new licenses.

    Don't underestimate the dispatchers, personally, i can't stand pretty much anything but tractor (came after Alfred) but this is due to its flexibility and how it fits into pipelines and you can write dispatchers for it to do anything. Most tend to cause problems with multiple concurrent users, and multiple nodes, and especially how you've set it up to handle multiple versions of software.

    10+ can become a headache without systems to manage software installs - I currently run a small farm at work of 50 running soft,maya,nuke,c4d,afx,etc. and various plugins - all have their own licensing limits (even plugins) so at that time, a good render manager that you can modify to limit globally how many licenses of a given type you can have is rather important (and more importantly without the op caring/knowing so they don't have to check extra boxes when dispatching), the harder you make it to dispatch, the more mistakes will be made, especially when they get tired - that has cost more than going with a more flexible, cheaper option and writing your own dispatchers that can take these conditions into consideration and fit your targets)

    Regarding HT that has been mentioned in various places, AFAIK most people (including me) turn off HT, rendering/Raytracing for the most part is floating point calcs, and there is only a single FPU that the two threads share. This, combined with the increased memory usage, can lead to a decrease in performance.

  9. #9
    Just to respond to HT as I strongly disagree, HT is there for a reason, and turning it off does not make any sense nowadays (at the beginning some applications did not support it very well but now it is all smooth ride) and keeping it turned off is just a way to not get best performance from expansive computer that you bought.

    I am certain that most of the people turn it on as it speeds up most of the time and does not hurt when it does not.

    Just turn it on and do the tests. Does Core i7 Hyper-Threading Helps? That is only one example, the is more tests on the net, 3D application, HPC software, BOINC clients, they all work better with HT enabled, but I urge you just test it by yourself, you will finish with HT on on all your machines, I promise you.

    It is not like computers that Harrysun listed in his question support HT, but if you have it, you should use it. Look how it illustrates the point very well, you need lot of expertise to run your own farm, you need to be expert in all areas, hardware, operating system and 3D too.
    Rent entire farm for $6.13 /h or $147 /a day!*
    * Prices before discounts!

    Skype: GarageFarm.NET

  10. #10
    angelia Guest
    Here is a good article about render farm,maybe it can help.

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