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Homemade Render Farm

Has anyone made one before?

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#1 AromaKat

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 07:06 PM

I stumbled across this site where a guy explains his homemade linux cluster a bit, and started thinking about doing the same type of setup for small C4D farm I can set in the corner of the office. I pieced together a few parts on newegg, and it looks like it would run $1400 for every 20 cores (5 x quad core) with 8 gigs of ram per board.
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Another thought is going 6 core on all of these, but I don't think you can put a 6 core in a micro ITX board.

The case that the guy used is from Ikea for only $35...

Needless to say, I am extremely tempted......

Has anyone else done something like this? See anything wrong with the setup? Know of a better method? I know I would need a network switch, cables, etc...

The main goal here is to have a single unit (preferably portable), low power consumption, low noise, and a clean setup. I don't want a bunch of machines stacked up on top of eachother.

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#2 Dani-Sang

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 09:43 PM

just wow

Edited by Dani-Sang, 04 August 2011 - 09:44 PM.


#3 destro

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 01:13 AM

I set up a small render farm a few years ago. Just 3 machines. One problem I ran into was heat. The machines will be running at 100% for hours so you'll need to keep em cool.

Make sure the cases you get can take the larger fans. Big fans can move air at lower revs which means much less noise. Go for fluid bearings. They are more quiet and more reliable long-term.

#4 AromaKat

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 05:06 PM

Yeah, my plan is to make a squirrel cage exhaust back out to the window, or put it in the room I don't use.

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#5 Basic

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 12:36 AM

Wow, excellent read and really good idea, I was considering the same with an old dell tower but as it is quite old its just a compatibilty nightmare so a render farm is on the back burner for a while now.

Would be great to see your progress if you make it. :)

#6 monovich

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 06:07 PM

I use a small render farm of 2-4 machines. I purpose built two of them but the other two and hand-me-downs from earlier workstations. When fired up it does generate tremendous heat (and noise), so consider that carefully in your planning.

#7 AromaKat

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 09:18 AM

Its probably an old topic, but does AMD vs Intel actually make a performance difference while rendering c4d? Floating point operations or whatever the hell??

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#8 vozzz

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 01:59 PM

just cinebench the cpu's and you'll get all the answers. price points are a pretty good comparison. i5 2400s is about the same as a 1055t both performance and price, but only has 4 cores. so meh...

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#9 monovich

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 07:55 PM

When I bought, I bought AMD (X6) because the price/performance was a little better for AMD. Note that this only held true for 3d rendering though, which is highly threaded and scales nicely. Other less threaded applications or even things like Photoshop were better on i7 by a margin worth considering.

Also, if you want the most power possible, Intel wins again, 'cause they are just moar fastar.

#10 AromaKat

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 10:00 PM

Thanks monovich. I'm finding that piecing together lot deals on ebay will get me 2x the equipment for the same price. Just ordered 20 sticks of 4GB ram for $600, and am looking at getting a lot of 10 nvidea motherboards for a little over $400. Now I just need to find a good deal on a lot of 10 processors. Looks like there aren't any lot deals on 6 cores...

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#11 Beaver

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 01:16 AM

Pretty awesome - did some googling on the helmer and there are quite a few helmer computers floating around. I like this one with each drawer as a case:

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#12 AromaKat

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 01:41 AM

Thats pretty clean. Is there a write up on how they built that? (tried to reference the link but right clicking an image to get the url its coming from only brings up the preview window now with the recent site update)

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#13 destro

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 01:46 AM

I googled up a pic of Pixars render farm (from 2005)
Each one of those "blades" is a computer. They have a very large room full of them.


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Edited by destro, 22 August 2011 - 01:47 AM.


#14 AromaKat

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 02:57 AM

I think a mere 10 will do just fine for lil' ol' me. :P

Those "blades" are just servers. I was looking into that route as well, but the microatx is far more cost efficient. The only reason to go the server route is to have dual xenon, plus the power consumption of those are high.

Edited by AromaKat, 22 August 2011 - 03:02 AM.

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#15 monovich

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 03:05 AM

your power bill will get interesting when you power them up. Once a few years ago I had the farm screaming for a couple of months straight. The resulting electricity bill was pretty sobering. It all rolled into the cost of the project, but it drove home the point that rendering is indeed a cost!

#16 destro

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 04:29 AM

I posted the pixar render farm mainly cause it's such eye-candy to look at. Def not cost efficient for a small studio set up.

In winter just point the back of the cabinet in your direction...that's your heating bill taken care of :D

#17 AromaKat

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 05:22 AM

Luckily the office space I rent has power included :D

Each of the micros will only require 220 watts each. Far less than the 1200 watts my main workstation is using. Works out to be the same power consumption as an additional 2 machines.

The heat is my main concern. I'm definitely going to be rigging some sort of exhaust to the window, but am pretty sure that part of the construction will be when it gets interesting.

Edited by AromaKat, 22 August 2011 - 05:31 AM.

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#18 Beaver

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 01:48 PM

Here's another one using the drawer method, good step by step on how he did it:

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http://blog.dotlot.c...er-render-farm/

#19 rovino

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 06:56 PM

ok whats happening with this Im super curious. actually now Im pricing stuff. DAMN. must stop. Im assuming you are going to use net render on this? What OS are will you be using? Im actually contending on seeing if you can Hackintosh these to use OSX? does net render work on linux? and Im also assuming one could use this render farm with AE net render option right? BTW.. yeah just looking at ebay shows tremendous promise..

#20 AromaKat

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 04:56 AM

I have been ordering bulk orders for good deals off ebay when I see them. Looks like i can get 10 6 cores for under 2k going that route. I'm basically doubling up what I originally planned to make since it seems I will be able to for only $500 more, and with 6 core CPUs in each.

So far I have purchased 10 motherboards for $400 and 18 cpu fans for $42. The cabinets are on their way, which were around $85. I can't seem to find any deals on 'lots' of 6 core amd CPUs on ebay, which is what I am mainly holding out for. If nothing shows up soon, I will just buy them new. But those will be the most expensive items.


I wouldn't hackintosh. It would be a complete bitch for no good reason. I'll be looking into what my linux options are (net render isn't one of them). Using a linux-based render software, which is essentially just distributed computing. I remember playing with smedge and Qube back in the pre-multi-core days. Maybe its a viable option.

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