Network Rendering Question
I'm still trying to get my full poser pro 11 install to complete, so I was wondering if anyone could instruct me on whether or not the network rendering works well? I would like to add some cheap pc's, like mac minis or something like that, but I am wondering how realistic this is. Thanks for the help!
First remember it's for full frames. So you can send a still image render to the queue and 1 system will work on that. So if you aren't doing animation more than 1 render drone is likely over kill. (Well unless you are doing really high rez renders and expect them to take a really long time to finish)
If you are doing animation then yeah an army of mid-spec systems can tear through those long sequences.
Things to remember: Presently the GPU is NOT ised in the render queue, even for cycles. so GPU is not needed. What does matter is CPU. Speed and cores. The more the better on both. For RAM 8-16 GB should be sufficient for a render drone.
Anecdotally I use it for still all the time. I can dump a render in the Queue and go work on something else unimpeded.
I haven't used the P11 Queue manager a lot yet, but I have done a lot of network rendering in other versions of Poser (Poser Pro, Poser 2010, Poser 2012, Poser 2014). I have found it very useful for a lot more than just stills too (batch rendering promos and pieces for composites). I would say it works fairly well overall. I use it with a mix of machines, many are rebuilt and refurbished by myself when I started. When I started setting up again in 2008/2009 I rebuilt several Dell Dimension 2400's (6 to be exact), they were all 32 bit single cores, 2 were limited to 2gb of memory by hardware limitations, two had extended motherboards and I was able to take to 4gb. All were in the 2.66ghz to 3.0ghz range. By today's standards these are rather weak (though I still have 2 of them in service when I need a lot of small promo pieces for fleshing out the icons in the runtime). I later added 2 Intel Core 2 Quads at 4gb ram (now at 8gb and unable to go further due to hardware limits) both 64 bit machines (both also still in service, and carrying the brunt of the render load these days). Even with this hodgepodge mixture of CPU's the render network is essentially stable for the most part. There are times when a scene is just too much for one of the 32 bit machines and I will get corrupted frames from them - in these cases I just take them off the network (in fact, I generally install Poser across the the machines when possible to just load and test if a scene will crash a given machine, a little harder to do now with the limited seats and need to constantly renew the license).
Often times now, I have the Queue manager on the 32 bit machines pre-configured to not send jobs to the network or accept jobs from the network, and I will load up the older Poser Pro (or sometimes Poser 2010) and use the queue locally on that machine to batch render smaller images, overlays, elements for compositing and FX work, etc... Things not as memory intense or needing extreme levels of detail or realism.
I definitely recommend network rendering though (you can even install it on the local machine if you only have one to use for batch render... prep a number of scenes, send them to the queue manager, and let them run overnight while you sleep or watch a movie). I used to do this all the time.
I would echo Nerd3D's answer and his caveats.
Queue does not distribute a single render amongst several remotes; you can only send entire animation frames or entire still renders of a batch list.
Queued renders cannot use GPU rendering.
That said, Queue is great for:
- Animations - the work is divided amongst your remotes.
- Batch lists of test renders - send several test renders to Queue before going to bed. Your machine(s) will work through the list.
Free up workstation by sending test renders to Queue.
I love doing animations, but to me, 3-4 remotes would be great even if you don't do animations, because they enable you to run an entire batch list of test renders simultaneously.
Again echoing Charles, my advice for remotes is to seek CPU cores (with consideration of clock speed) and sufficient RAM (which depends on your render habits). GPU is irrelevant.
To get the most remote rendering horsepower for the least cost, consider buying used/refurbished ex-enterprise server blades. In particular, you want blades with two processors, with lots of cores and decent clock speed.
Currently, the sweet spot is the Westmere series Xeon processors, with model numbers prefixed "X", and numbered X5650, X5660, X5670, X5680, or X5690. These are all HyperThreaded hex core processors, so they supply twelve rendering threads each, and with two of them on a motherboard you get have twenty four render threads. Clock speeds range from 2.66GHz for the X5650 to 3.46GHz (and 3.73GHz turbo) in the X5690.
Search eBay for "2x X5650" and you'll see lots of used professional workstations and servers appear. You only want to consider the units with two CPUs. Some will have minimal RAM installed, some will have plenty. For blades, figure on buying a fresh hard drive and buying an OEM (system builder's) 64bit Win7Pro license (about $75). Else, get a group server license and learn to PiXiE boot the remotes. You can connect MAC and Win machines together on the same network.
If you get a used workstation or two, they may already have a 64bit Win7Pro license. I'd still figure on a fresh hard drive, though.
A dual CPU blade rendering at 100% CPU capacity and the cooling fans spinning at high speed will consume 275 Watts (I measured it with a circuit-splitter meter), which means 2.3 amps of 120v household electric. That's well less than half what one of my dual CPU workstations draws, so I can feed three or four blades from a big batt/surge unit.