Render ONLY PC

Hello, all.

I am wanting to build a workstation PC that will ONLY be used for Modeling, Rendering, Editing, and Displaying/Playing the finished results with Blender.

I am not sure what components I would need to focus on, how much of what is needed, etc.

Also, this PC will NEVER be connected to the net, but maybe connected to my laptop or other PC.

I am wondering if I could go for a multi-processor motherboard. I had a server board in mind that can hold up to 8 AMDs and 256 GBs of RAM, but I am not sure if this is overkill or what.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Well, you can definitly save money by using Linux. Other than that, I would go for an nVidia graphics card, and an Asus motherboard.

Edit: 8 AMDs and 256 GB of RAM???!!! Are you NUTS???!!! That sounds like a computer even I can completely approve of :eek:!!!

If you can afford two, can I have one for free :eyebrowlift:?

Heh. I know where I can get the Mobo and HT Expansion board, but it is expensive.

I would be lucky to afford one. LOL

When it comes to components, what is NEEDED by rendering? Is CPU speed more important than RAM or is more RAM more important? Things like that.

Go for Linux. Not to “save money”, but because Linux can be tuned much more for dedicated systems like that. There’s no such thing as overkill when it comes to CPU power for rendering (unless all of your renders complete in a short time, and you never animate).

Blender or your OS should tell you how much RAM your render is using (although I forget how to find this out in Blender itself). If you check that with your most complex model, and allow some room for more complex work in future (think doubling or more, not adding!), then you should be OK. CPU is where it’s really at. By the memory size you need in as few RAM chips as possible, to leave slots free for further expansion.

You could also look into stuff like buying a few PS3’s, and installing linux on them. Nothing like high-speed, commodity hardware to get you value for money.

Oh, PS3s would probably have RAM limitations. You’d also need to be sure that whatever render calculations blender does would be accelerated by the PS3’s SPEs. That may not be the case, depending on how blender’s coded. Have a read here for more on using PS3’s:

http://blenderartists.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-80064.html

You could also take the Pixar approach. Instead of dumping all your cash into one mega computer that will be out of date in a couple years (well… probably not THAT out of date…), just buy or build several moderately powerful systems all to the same spec and set them up as a farm. This way you could get the same components, they would be FAR cheaper (tho maybe not as ‘green’ as far as power usage) and you’d still never need to buy a monitor if you could access a virtual desktop for each of them, or terminal or whatever. Aside from teh cost of a huge megamachine like that, you also have to beware the possibility that it will go down at some point and your renderability will drop to just whatever computer you have to model on. With a netwroked farm you can lose one or two PC’s and not get hit too significantly, and you can always just keep adding more and more PC’s and/or upgrading them for probably far cheaper than upgrading that massive beast machine.

Just think, all you really need is a small HD for each of the slave systems, a few gigs of RAM, a moderately powerful CPU, an ethernet card (or an in-built one) and you’re good to go. Then set up one of them with a large parity Raid server as a master and a file dump for the renders and you’d probably get the same amount of work done as the monster machine at, i would imagine, far less of a cost (if not initially, then surely for upgrading or repairs).

The only thing you’d have to really watch out for is the fact that there are some glitches that can occur whit some systems at render time that might cause some things like particles to not be calculated teh same for each system. I haven’t worked with the baking functions much, but you’d want to bake as much as possible in a setup like that i would imagine (can you bake particles?). There may also be a cooling issue if you do it that way (i have three computers and two of them are generally always on for some reason or another, and my room can get fairly uncomfortable sometimes)

But if you’ve got the cash to get a beast like that for your rendering and you aren’t too worried about the potential risks of putting all your eggs into one basket, I’d say go for it, just make sure all of that extra CPU power actually gets used. I don’t know if Blender’s internal renderer will use a multi-threaded setup like that (and i dunno much about the multi-core CPU’s architecture… do apps have to support multi-threading to take full advantage of those as well?) and that’s the sort of stuff you’ll want to be totally concrete about before you start laying out the cash.

Both cpu and ram is equally important. It needs to be balanced. Get the most powerfull cpu you can afford and add at least 4gb ram per cpu.
In case you don’t already know this, a graphics card is completely useless when it comes to rendering. Your pc does not render with a graphics card.

256 GB???
Afaik, blender can’t even USE that!!

If that mobo can host barcelonas, that’d be indeed an overkill and probably a very very fast farm-in-a-box (you want a home HPC blenderbox?).

Alternatively, if you decide to go home computer route:

If you can wait a little (launch @20th nov.), check the reviews for AMD’s phenom/790 chipset combo. That chipset is said to consume very little power and therefore runs fairly cool.

If you can’t wait (or want a quick fix), I’d suggest a Q6600 SLACR on GA-P35C-DS3R mobo. Fairly inexpensive (and runs cooler, read documentation), plus said mobo is penryn-ready and DDR3-ready if you want to upgrade down-the-road … of course it will take a more modest, desktop amount of ram … These boards should run with Ubuntu Gutsy fine, check review of (diff) board from same family: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=832&num=1

GA-P35C-DS3R website: http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=2551

As mentioned before - its better to have a few modest machines vs. a single massive one because of the premiums you pay. For example for the price of that server board you coudl buy 4 consumer grade CPU boards.

Rendering is a very parrelel tasking application so sometimes having one massive system isn’t really going to help you.

I’ve seen benchmarks of adding additional CPUs to a system and it seams like for every CPU you add you lose 30% of your systems potential rendering power. So 4 dual core systems should outperform a single 8 core system.

The cheapest and most powerdraw/cost effective route is still an OC’d quad w.4Gig DDR2-6400 C4 … you should get by with a ~500W PSU if that’s a renderbox.

AMD quads scale way better than intels in multi-cpu scenarios - they’re server chips primarily, strong in FPU and power systems like Cray etc. You should take that into equation as well.

Ok. I wonder. I don’t have room for several computers at the moment. I was wanting to buy components that would make a kick butt system that I can still upgrade in the future that will not be obsolete any time soon. I was wanting to go with a Tyan Mobo. This one specifically: http://www.tyan.com/product_board_detail.aspx?pid=554

It has HT slots to add an expansion board for four more CPUs and four more banks of RAM. This board is Quad ready, one thing I would like to take advantage of.

I know this is an exnpensive route, but I am just not sure how a single PC or a cluster of four or five could match it. Especially after I get it maxed out.

This thing can hold the equivilent of 32 CPUs and it uses an HT system instead of an FSB so it is much much faster than any normal mobo.

Like I said, I may be overkilling, but I do wish to get serious about rendering/animating.

What choices do I have for a rendering PC OTHER than making a cluster?

I plan on making full length animations of high detail as well as stills.

Look in these stats: http://eofw.org/bench/

If you really want a single computer then bigger is better up to your price limit, which from what you say seems to include the board you are talking about. Just bear in mind the kind of noise and heat this system is going to be generating and the power that it’s going to be draining. Unless you have a server room…

As to the cluster vs server question, you can run any multi-core machine like a render-farm (effectively using each core with a different blender process) which helps with long-ish animations by rendering bunches of frames on each core/machine. Though you will need either additional software, or blender scripts for that.

Well, it seems the fastest one there was a Windows with 8 cores. I know my setup will do the trick. Just wasn’t sure how far was too far. I do not really want to go with a simple PC or small cluster. I want an actual workstation cause I know it will have the processing power.

Well, it seems I can go the route I was thinking. It isn’t too expensive to start out small with it and upgrade as I need it. All I have to find out is if I can run Linux and how to get Blender to run 128GBs of RAM. LOL

128GB of ram? For what? Animation rendering? How big is the scene, that needs so much memory? Are you modeling a whole big city with a lot of realistic walking peoples? No? Then you don´t need this. Btw, I´m sure that you know this, but… you can´t use classical DDR or DDRII with that tyan mobo…

8GB, or 4GB ram with 45nm quad core Intel CPU overclocked at 4GHz should be fast enough. imho, not should… it is fast enough. Or, you can rent some power from renderfarm like respower…

A PS3 would work great. My coworker and I are using that to render stuff, specially animooted stuff.

You’d be amazed what you can do with 6 available processors.

I would definatly go with the nvidia video card with as much memory as you can afford, and an asus motherboard, they are definatly the best also It would be best if you went with 64 bit linux and a 64 bit processor, with linux youll get the most out of all of that hard ware windows would be useless its a huge resource pig. Though Id like to point out if you connect the new pc to your other computers it is very likely that if they become infected with any virus or anything else so will your render/modeling pc, there are many virus’s whuch will spread out to any hardware they can find. Thats what they do. I honestly dont even know if you can network windows computers with linux, I wouldnt know. I just built a rendering computer with then specs I mentioned, only using it for modeling and rendering, and it is way better the windows has ever been. One problem with the 64 bit linux though , you cant get a 64 bit linux yayfray…as far as I know.

The system you’re speaking of sounds like you would be using it for HD production on a professional level. Is that the case? Is it for your own personal use, and what sort of work have you done. If you show us an example of the things you want to do, then we might get an idea of what sort of system would be required to do that.

I would get several machines and cluster them.

I’d have 1 that was dedicated workstation with a 256MB video card and 2GB of Ram (this is the max supported by Blender IIRC) with whatever processor you want. And then get some lower end boxes for $200 with whatever processor, HDD, and ram you can get at that price for dedicated rendering. Of course, you need to have the power outlets and need to factor in heat generation and power consumption into that approach.

Of course, I’d put FreeBSD on the boxes instead of Linux, but…