Information about Render Farms
Recently, due to our post about different renderers, we’ve gotten some questions in lieu of render farms and rendering services. Let’s try to lay some stuff out for you guys.
First let me say this, if you are trying to do animations and/or photorealistic images, we know that you’re going to want a good output without dropping a lot of money. With that being said, I personally would stay away from HP, Dell and IBM servers (unless you find them used for cheap). They are almost always overpriced for what they are/can handle. Boxx Technologies out of Texas has really good workstations and render platforms for an okay price.
Render Server Setup
Dual Xeon 6 core processors @ 3.2 GHz
64 GB DDR3 1366 Ram
2 TB Hard Drive
You can also go the route of taking older PCs (instead of chucking them into the garbage) and use them as a hodge podge farm. If you are working for a company that is just getting into animations or photorealistic images, you can also utilize any and all workstations on the network when they’re not being used.
Render Cueing Software
Let’s face it, if you’re going to be doing this hardcore, software like Maya’s “Backburner” can cut it but is not really suggested. From personal experience, it doesn’t seem like AutoDesk really supports Backburner. Out of all software that I’ve tried, Qube seems like the only decent cueing software out there (IMO). Check them out.
Third Party Rendering Service
I have generally had bad (well not really good) experiences with these services. I have managed to crash (error out) jobs using very high mental ray settings with RenderTitan (not to mention their buggy GUI interface). RenderRocket was just bad period. Now on the other hand, one that did fairly well was Rebusfarm.
The downside to some of these services (which require some research) is that some of them require a minimum purchase of X amount of credits (or CPU hours). This can be problematic when you have small jobs (or just a small job for that matter) and you have to invest a minimum of $200 worth of credits before you can do anything. Some of the services out there will allow you to purchase smaller quantities.
What do we use?
Without giving up too much information about our farm, I can say that we are running 1 HP ProLiant server, 1 RenderBoxx from Boxx Technologies and a few Laythrom Custom made render platforms made out of CoolerMaster’s HAF 932 tower. We have a decent amount of processing power and memory, but we’re always upgrading and adding to it. We’re currently looking into Nvidia’s Tesla Cards for more computational power, but we have to test them and make sure that the cards will perform the way that we are wanting. This is a much since each card runs around $1200. We will keep you guys up to date on any tests that we run in the future.
As a final note, one thing that I will bring up that is of great importance [no matter what system or layout you try and run] is heat and noise. Servers produce a lot of heat and noise; you will have to keep this in mind when setting up your farm. You will also have to take into account the amount of electricity that will be used and if your home/business wiring can handle the demand.