Render Farm (Tech Stuff)


  • Poser Ambassadors

    Just quickly scanned eBay for "2x X5650"; here's a blade with dual X5650 Xeons (twenty four render threads at 2.66GHz) and 16GB RAM for $150+sh.



  • That's some really good (if not, in parts, slightly confusing... but don't worry, I'll do some homework) information, thank you. I'll get all the info I can and probably take some pics too, but I'll have to overhaul my flat to get everything out and have room to work, as well as having room to exist in such a place with such clutter, lol! I'll probably number or letter each machine to make it easier to identify them. I'm totally open to gutting everything and having piles of components to make a farm from... more on that idea:

    I live in a studio flat, quite small, storage space is hardly existent. My living 'room' and bed'room' are one, but I'd like to separate them. I've designed a modular system which features a built-in bed, divided completely from the rest of the flat... I call it my 'passion pit' or 'pit' for short.

    This will be built out of MDF, and it's all entirely doable and wouldn't take all that much work, really. Much of it will be made from interlocking 'boxes', and, as such, could be dismantled in minutes and loaded into a van for moving day, then be rebuilt as a similar kind of thing somewhere else. The 'footboard' of the bed will have a decent-sized television mounted on it, with my studio monitors on each side. The base unit of this is something I've put a lot of thought into... there will be three or four of these 'boxes' stacked on top of each other to make the floor-to-ceiling 'footboard'. The bottom section could, if adequately ventilated, be used to mount the motherboards etc. Cables could be routed one direction or another, keeping it tidy, and ports could be routed to a panel fairly easily, with extensions, if needed.

    So, you see, if I vented it all properly and made sure it was all done right, I could have a render farm in one box, with no need for cases, cables etc. If I went for that option, obviously, all the machines would need gutting anyway.

    With regards to server blades, I hadn't thought much about that, but that's a decent idea! I have a friend who knows about all that stuff... she spends a reasonable amount of time messing about with servers for work and is Microsoft accredited (or a partner, I don't know, something along those lines), so maybe she could advise too... I'll link her to this thread.

    I should just mention that I'm in the UK, though, so getting something shipped could be interesting... not to mention my bank charging me for making payments in non-GBP currency... funny guys!

    Thanks for the help here, I'm really pleased... I knew my faith in you lot wasn't misplaced! ^_^



  • I just fished out some of my hard drives, memory and cards. I do have more but this is what is to hand right now.

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    Did I mention that I have never, once, 'thrown away' a hard drive... only took one apart when it died? I still have the drive from my very first computer somewhere... it's enormous, lol! And yet, most are full of all kinds of data, from music projects to Poser to po... well, I'll leave it at that, shall I? Lol!

    Suffice it to say, I think I'll have plenty of storage space, coupled with the four or five terabytes I'm currently using, for plenty of renders and, if I can figure out how to animate, animations! ^_^


  • Poser Ambassadors

    Well, overall, my advice is that before investing money, assess the boxes you have, to calculate whether it is ^worth^ spending cash to get them operational.
    The calculus is: How many render threads (at ____ clockspeed), supported by _____ memory, do I get for my investment?

    If your ex-school machines have H/T quad processors or better, and have 64bit Win7 licenses, then they are worth buying hard drives for.

    I'll note that blades (those flat computers I linked to) are the ne plus ultra of space efficiency, low electrical demand for a given processor horsepower, and can be had with lots of CPU cores and RAM for modest cost.
    The one downside is that blades have an array of small diameter high speed fans, so they whistle when running hard in a warm room. Noise is a factor to consider if you'll be doing overnight renders.
    Search eBay for UK listings, or search for other UK sources of refurbished servers. Your friend may know of sources.



  • These are the ones I've been able to get out so far. Some have memory and hard drives, cards etc, others don't. I took the data cables out to give a better view but I'll do more when I'm less drunk and more coherent. Bottom left is my little Compaq Presario, which is a neat little machine. I've not had it running but it has a hard drive and seems complete, so might still have Win 98 on it, lol! It's cute as a button and I love it for what it is, so probably won't include it in the render farm.

    Would it be good for me just to take this lot right down to components and work from there, or keep them as they are? I need to test a few of them, as the previous owners reported problems with them which might be terminal, but we'll see. I don't remember which one it was, but the guy said he was certain the MOBO was goosed, which would be a shame, but as I said, we'll have to run tests and see. Neat little project, I think... and I know a motorcycle club which has a 'computer smashing' competition at their annual rally, where they take a sledgehammer to a pile of old cases (nothing of much worth left in them), so I could be well loved in that club again, lol!

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  • On a side note, top right is my favourite case. It looks like crap, but it is easily portable with the handle and plenty big enough for a decent MOBO, so I was considering putting my main PC into that, as this case is an 'Aerocool Strike-X' thing which, frankly, is balls. I hate it, it's the worst case in the world. I'd rather have the gubbins screwed to the wall, lol!



  • @seachnasaigh said in Render Farm (Tech Stuff):
    Noise is a factor to consider if you'll be doing overnight renders.

    I sleep with Static-X pounding my head to bits through my monitors, noise is fine, lol!
    Thanks for all your help, I'll get as much info as I can on it all and get back to you.


  • Poser Ambassadors

    @Glen85 Hey! Some of that memory appears to be registered (server memory); I even see what appears to be ECC (error correcting code) chips on a few pieces. Old, though - it's DDR, not DDR2, DDR3, etc. And not big capacity.

    Regular desktop memory has four chips toward one end and four chips toward the other end, with an empty area in the center. If you see a ninth chip (or two) in the center, that is a register/buffer/controller chip for registered memory.

    If that came out of one of those machines, you may have a server motherboard (albeit single-CPU).



  • @Glen85 I see 4 full-tower cases there, that alone gives them 'some' value.

    Look at the mother boards in those machines, if you see 4 or more memory slots & 2 or more PCIe slots there's potential, if any of them have any AMD socket3 motherboards... hey now.... 8core Piledrivers have dropped under 100bucks since the release of Ryzen(12 & 16 cores arent much more expensive and dropping like a rock)...



  • Sorry for the silence, folks. I've not been well, I'm afraid. I have tons of mental health quirks going on, as yet, undiagnosed (the NHS is pretty dire with mental health, I've been waiting since 2006, for a proper diagnosis!).

    I'm still not quite on form enough to turf my flat upside down to get all the machines out, but as I've stressed, there's no rush for this stuff, as I can't afford to do anything about it for quite a while yet.

    A quick update though: I think I have a mixture of Pentium 4 and Celeron D CPUs in the machines.

    When I'm up to it, I'll get them all out and take loads of photos, giving all the information I can on everything. I've lost some of the RAM though, so goodness knows.

    Please don't continue the conversation until I've listed everything, I won't be able to take stuff in and I don't want to upset anyone by not responding properly or forgetting to mention anyone.

    Thanks for all your help and patience.