Render machine advice

  • I am investigating building a render machine. Looking for feedback from those who’ve done it.

    My driving design consideration was to get an LGA2011x2 motherboard to support 2 Xeon processors. My thought is that two Xeons will render faster than a single i7. The 2687w seemed like a good price point and with a 3368 Geekbench score, two of them should rip along nicely. I can get the 2687w at just over $200 each used on eBay, so the final price would be below $1800.

    Thoughts? Are there limitations in Poser or Superfly that would make this a bad choice?

    PC Part Picker configuration

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    @ctrl-shift That looks promising. I would like to verify that the motherboard will read the 32GB unregistered RAM. I don't see any details which specify "____GB of unregistered RAM, ____GB registered RAM". But, the RAM of 512GB tells me that the main chipset is stout. I can find a .pdf on Intel's site for the C602 main chipset, but it doesn't state unregistered/registered limits either.

    I think the mobo will read all 32GB of that memory, but I can't verify that. Can anybody confirm/deny this? @shvrdavid might know.

    Power supply size is good. Good CPU coolers.

    Those processors would give 32 render threads at 3.1GHz, a core * clockspeed factor of 99.2 - that packs a whollop!

  • @ctrl-shift why blow all that cash on 2 Xeons when GPU rendering is much faster?

  • @seachnasaigh is it possible to use SM Download Manager to directly download and install just QueueManager on a render node? Or is it just a matter of copying the QueueManager application from the workstation to the render node?

    I have a MacBook Pro gathering dust which I'd like to use as a render node, but it has such limited space that I don't want to waste it downloading more than absolutely necessary. [250GB internal HDD with <10GB free]

  • @anomalaus D'Oh! RTFM!!! Enter the serial number for Queue Manager in SM Download Manager on the remote node and its download options become just the QueueManager relevant installers. [The forest trembles and the mountains resound with the tintinnabulation of a cataclysmic forehead slap]

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    • CPU rendering can use all of the machine's RAM, not limited to the GPU's onboard VRAM

    • In the past, Firefly GPU rendering has lacked some capabilities (volumetrics)

    • CPU rendering is universal to all popular render engines, whereas GPU rendering options often require a particular type of card (Lux uses ATI/Radeon, Superfly uses nVidia)

    • Some render engines don't offer GPU rendering (HyperVue)

    • Queue Manager can't network out GPU animation/batchlist renders

    GPU rendering is a great addition to the Poser arsenal, but CPU rendering still has its place.

    @ctrl-shift could also install a couple of GPUs in addition to the Xeons. If so, I'd get a 1200W-1350W power supply.

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    @anomalaus Yes. It's easy to overlook that a separate Queue Manager serial key comes with Poser Pro.
    For the wider forum: You can run Queue on as many machines as you wish. Install DLM, insert the Queue Manager serial (^not^ the Poser Pro serial), and DLM will download only Queue Manager, which basically the render engines (Firefly, Superfly, et al) with a bit of networking and minimal UI framework.
    It is noticeably smaller than Poser Pro.

  • @ghostship The main reason is that GPU cards don't fit into my MacBook Pro. If I have to buy a windows machine, I might as well build one that is capable without an expensive GPU. I can add a card later, if it really outperforms these two Xeon chips. I've laid out the i7 build and it doesn't come cheaper.

    I looked into adding an external GPU via thunderbolt, but that in itself is a big expense and there were too many risks. I think I could do it now if I upgraded my mbp to one with USB-C, but there is another expense. And its not easy to add an external graphics card- it is a complicated driver mess and it ties you to the desk anyway. On top of that, I recall complaints around GPU rendering with Poser - and I haven't seen any recent threads on that topic. All risks tell me to buck-up, put my mbp aside, and invest in a Windows CPU.

    I won't be happy to have a windows machine back in the house. The happiest days of my life were after I bought my mbp and didn't have to deal with windows BS. (To each their own.) I hope to be able to continue to design on my mbp. @ 5 years old it is still amazingly capable. But we will see. If turnaround on the renders is quick enough, it may make more sense to stay in one environment. I think the trade-off around render-quality vs. render-time will play into this too. If I like the quality I can get from letting it run a little longer, I may keep designing on the mbp to keep the work flowing.

    @seachnasaigh Thanks for the advice. It looks like non-ECC RAM will work just fine. I also like the idea of getting a larger power supply now in case I want to add some monster card later.

  • @seachnasaigh strike-that. ECC required for 2 CPUs.

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    @ctrl-shift If that is so, then shop for server memory, registered with ECC (error correcting code). Expect it to be more expensive than gaming desktop memory.

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    If you need to change the memory in your build, I would also specify metal heat spreaders to the registered ECC memory.

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    @ctrl-shift said in Render machine advice:

    I can add a card later, if it really outperforms these two Xeon chips. I've laid out the i7 build and it doesn't come cheaper.

    I also like the idea of getting a larger power supply now in case I want to add some monster card later.

    For the benefit of others reading through this thread, be aware that you cannot run two i7 processors on a server motherboard. They'll physically fit the sockets, but i3/i5/i7 CPUs lack the circuitry which handles parallel processing. So if you are going to run dual CPUs, get Xeons.