Best hardware specs Carrara v8.5 2014?

snekkissnekkis Posts: 13
edited December 1969 in Carrara Discussion

Last version for me with Carrara was v5. and I haven't used for a long time. Looking into v8.5, and I wonder about what specs for building a new PC would look like. Back then with my v5, it was really tedious. Todays hardware will turn that around, I guess.

Best of everything is best, I know. I'm looking for putting in a great amount of mesh, and that it will render fast. Who would't like that? Fastest CPU, tons of RAM and the most expensive graphic card.

For putting in a lot mesh, would it be best with those kind of gaming cards?

For rendering, AMD 8 core, or Intel 4 core? Have seen some comparisons, but they do not relate to 3D model and render work.

Comments

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,963
    edited December 1969

    Well, I guess a gaming card might be in order once the Octane plugin for Carrara is done. I just went from a much more mediocre card to a decent one with no visible difference in performance from my angle, except that the annoying noise of the burnt up fan bearing is gone! LOL

    For the coming of the Octane Plugin, my buddy and I have been kicking around the idea of going for the Workstation graphics solution. Big bucks but....

    I have the earlier 'Zambezi' eight core AMD, the lower of the two models they came out with, while Spooky got the higher grade one, and both of us love our chips. Blazing renders. My Buddy, Gars Man built his using a server class motherboard that supports two cpu, and is running, I believe, two 12 core AMD. I'd love to get my hands on that beast!

    I've seen another friend rendering with his i7 with eight logical cores, and it blazes through renders too.

    I built mine specifically for working with Carrara, under a very tight budget - but pulled of a wonderful Carrara machine build. I love it.

    I went with 16GB Ram, though my motherboard can take 32. I never seem to need more, and never really seem to peak out what I have - at least not while I'm looking.

    All specs aside, no matter how great we build our machines, we still need to maintain efficient workflow. 3D graphics can bring the biggest and fastest right down to its knees... but you probably know that part already ;)

  • Dream CutterDream Cutter Posts: 1,215
    edited December 1969

    Rendering systems want lots of CPU cores and RAM, video GPU is negligible. I just made a pair of rendering systems that work well with DAZ, Carrara and Vue. I used the ASUS KGPE (http://www.asus.com/Commercial_Servers_Workstations/KGPED16/) motherboard and added (2) AMD Opteron 16core CPU's and 128GB Ram. Its about the largest number of CPU cores you can have operating in a single Windows 7/8 Professional license. I tried a quad cpu mobo, but only could get all cpu's recognized under Windows Server (trial, over $1,500 to buy!). That OS is not the best for a Graphics workstations anyways so the best compromise is dual multi-core CPU's.
    For graphics use a low end professional graphics card like the Quadra or AMDFirePro. I use the FirePro4000 with 1gb ram and its stable in opengl & directx. Its all that is needed from a GPU.
    I build 2 of these systems because I procured the hardware as one massive quad core 256mb system on ebay from a integrator who lost his client. It was too good a deal to pass up and I got the hw for less than the price of the ram alone. Together they make a great Graphics Workstation and Render Cow combo, and they are both running Win7 Pro.

  • snekkissnekkis Posts: 13
    edited December 1969

    Hmm, interesting specs you you both have. What is this Octane plugin about?

  • Dream CutterDream Cutter Posts: 1,215
    edited March 2014

    Octane (render.otoy.com/) is a third party render engine that takes advantage of GPU rather than CPU to perform image processing. Its unusual in that respect (GPU based) as most professional rendering system use CPU. This is because traditional RISC even CISC (x86) CPU's are more scale-able and highly consistant. With GPU implementations the results can be unpredictable because of the competitive market and lack and/or adherence level tp published GPU instruction set design standards. The competirtive nature of video card manufactures getting the fastest possible boards at any cost to eager gamers generated a lot of proprietary designs and obscured specifications (ever get hold of a manufactures "white paper"?). Its kind of like bit-coin mining with a GPU rather than CPU. It can be highly efficient however the equipment investment may be less flexible in terms of application. Increased adherence level of OpenGL & DriectX GPU instruction set design standards is what sets a professional workstation card apart from gaming cards. The ultra-fast gaming adapters push the design specs and cut corners with the instruction set to achieve performance. This where unpredictability between various GPU implementations comes in. On the screen its impact subjective, however the inconsistency is definitely apparent to professionals.

    Post edited by Dream Cutter on
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,963
    edited December 1969

    Here is a preview of Octane for Carrara in an early state, as he mentions in the video that much is yet to be done. That video was released a while ago. It would be interesting to see where it is now.

    If you're interested in seeing the whole thread, it is here: Oh yea. Octane for Carrara

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,963
    edited March 2014

    In my Carrara Information Manual Thread, I have written these articles for folks to consider as well - as food for thought in this department:
    Carrara & Computers

    How to Build Your Own Carrara Workstation

    Buying a Workstation

    EDIT:
    But Dreamcutter pretty much nailed it on the head, for the most part.
    I had a simple "yesterdays" consumer grade Fermi card from nVidia, and it ran beautifully and kept my cost at a minimum. For less than a $grand USD, I ordered all oof my parts, minus a monitor, keyboard, mouse - and the order included Sony Vegas Movie HD and Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. Less than a Grand!!! That even included a really nice tower case with all filtered intakes.

    I would love to get my hands on Dreancutter's rig! But my meager eight core is one sweet Carrara machine, especially for the price. When I tried designing in Server-Class parts, like what Dreamcutter's machine is built upon, the price quickly got beyond my reach at the time. One day though!!! :ahhh:

    Post edited by Dartanbeck on
  • Dream CutterDream Cutter Posts: 1,215
    edited March 2014

    If you plan on animation renders, some of mine take weeks even with tons of cores. My skydomes scenes take a month to render 120 frames under certain atmospherics with 32 cores, so cooling and system stability is absolutely essential. If go AMDFX 8 core (FX8550) DO consider liquid cooling like Coolmasters h80i. Its crucial for long term renders. I also recommend a very good, 1/3 over rated power supply. For AMDFX3250 w/ 32gb ram, 1ssd an 2 hdd raid o, and one midrange pro GPU Choose a 750 watt gold from a tier 1 vendor (eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.asp its a refinement of this based on real world experience http://www.plugloadsolutions.com/80PlusPowerSupplies.aspx# ). I really like the Supermicro, Tyan and Gigabyte mobos, however Asus is not bad.) If you plan on using a render farm to a local cow, use DUAL NICS and redundant ethernet cables to yyour GIGABIT router. It makes a huge difference (1.5x) ! Windows 7 takes advantage of all your ethernet pipes to a destination and is smart enough to load balance. The intel dual ethernet 10K Giga nics are incredible with the hw accelerated i/o. I found a generic one for $40 ;) on Amazon. DO NOT OVERCLOCK. Not even a teensy bit as you may regret the decision weeks into a render when your PC takes a bounce. I operate in a high dust is environment. I cant keep a fan based system running for more than a few weeks before dirt slows that fans, and no blower / spray can I have seen does a great job that does not risk damage to components. That's not reliable enough. The liquid cooling does not rely nearly as heavily on air to radiate heat, and I have my cooling radiator mounted at the rear of the case so I can vacuum it easily. No real need to open the case (frequently) to maintain. That increases reliability all around.

    DART - That Carrara Hardware guide you made is awesome! Had not seen that before. Well done.

    Post edited by Dream Cutter on
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,963
    edited December 1969

    Thanks! I like what you've just written above! Sweet! Can I add some of that in a quote in my article?
    In Carrara's defense, the skydomes he's talking about are probably really high resolution renders. When I render a single frame 16,000 x 8,000 spherical map for use in a background, it does take a long time. But those sorts of time savers in the end are totally worth the wait.

    I set up my scenes to render as quickly as possible, even with my eight core advantage. Digital Lighting & Rendering - by Jeremy Birn is all about using the right lighting for the job, and really helps us to consider how to speed up our renders. It's not just about speed, though. He goes over what might bring the Best results, and then comes up with ways to simulate that result with faster solutions - all while covering every aspect of digital lighting and rendering... totally a must-read book!

  • Dream CutterDream Cutter Posts: 1,215
    edited March 2014

    Sure can Dart. I an a beginner with Carrara and have not explored its render capabilities fully. My experience with rendering sky box and domes scenes is with Vue & Keyshot mostly. I like to animate my sky-boxes & domes and use Vue atmospherics and weather effects to achieve this. Since I am after realtime 3d rendering output, extreme resolution is not as critical as the overall ambiance I am trying to achieve. Motion blurring and multi-frame texture antiaslising defeat advantages of extreme hidef to some extent - maybe. Not an expert. I think its is a different animal than making a static skydome 360 where you want a high level of zoom ability in any direction at a massive resolution. I have made them both and both can take forever to produced if not properly balanced for acceptable quality & effect.
    I like boxes because my stuff tends to be used in real-time renders (game/webgl media) its easier to stitch 6x90 images to an OBJ cube (webgl, flash what ever) and it allows for many more possibilities to mix-and match down the road. Postwork stuff like adding a water layer surface to the ground image. Also I can maintain scenes and change weather and since video is rendered as image sequence can sync animation to continue like a sunset fogging into a rainstorm.

    Post edited by Dream Cutter on
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,963
    edited December 1969

    Very cool. Um... totally off topic here - apologies...
    Are you "Dream Cutter" from your sig? That is one nice tool! I also like the 3d skydome project. Very cool!

  • Dream CutterDream Cutter Posts: 1,215
    edited December 1969

    Very cool. Um... totally off topic here - apologies...
    Are you "Dream Cutter" from your sig? That is one nice tool! I also like the 3d skydome project. Very cool!

    Yep. Thanks. I like designing tangible stuff - that's why I think 3d computing is so fun. It transforms communication into reality.
    It sure is fun too!
  • snekkissnekkis Posts: 13
    edited December 1969

    Ha ha, that Octane plugin looks awesome.

    As for rendering, I'm now trying to look for some hardware. You guys have given me some good advice. Opteron CPU's, I can just forget about. That's way beyond my budget, but a dual CPU 8-core might be more reachable. You should see 16 cores render then, right? I was looking into this, AMD FX-9590, Socket-AM3+, 8-Core, 4.7GHz, 8MB L2 + 8MB L3 Cache, 220W, 32nm

    The only problem seems to find a server class board for that CPU, if it exists at all.

    Finding the right graphic card, which will take most advantage of the Octane plugin, is the next question. These graphic cards have so much different specs. I don't know what to look for in it.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,555
    edited December 1969

    Octane looks pretty cool, but it is still beta. If you're looking for rendering hardware now, but want to use Octane later, go with a system that will support the graphics card you want in the future, but concentrate on the CPUs and RAM now, and worry less about the graphics card, as Carrara's native renderer is strictly CPU based. That's just my advice. It's always easier to spend money when it's not your own. ;-)

  • Dream CutterDream Cutter Posts: 1,215
    edited December 1969

    snekkis said:
    Ha ha, that Octane plugin looks awesome.

    As for rendering, I'm now trying to look for some hardware. You guys have given me some good advice. Opteron CPU's, I can just forget about. That's way beyond my budget, but a dual CPU 8-core might be more reachable. You should see 16 cores render then, right? I was looking into this, AMD FX-9590, Socket-AM3+, 8-Core, 4.7GHz, 8MB L2 + 8MB L3 Cache, 220W, 32nm

    The only problem seems to find a server class board for that CPU, if it exists at all.

    Finding the right graphic card, which will take most advantage of the Octane plugin, is the next question. These graphic cards have so much different specs. I don't know what to look for in it.


    I think dual processor motherboard are limited to Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron. Search for dual cpu "graphics workstation" or "server" motherboard. Check out Boxx tech and Titan systems. Then check ebay ;)
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,963
    edited December 1969

    Right. That's why I only have one FX8

  • snekkissnekkis Posts: 13
    edited December 1969

    It will be a single CPU then, and I've learned my lesson about using the easy money before ;-)

    Until Octane is finished, I'll be starting on the board, RAM and CPU first, picking one at the time, graphic card last, but I see on otoy about multi GPU. That might be a way to look into. Any downfalls on multi GPU? I'm not doing much animation.

    Tried to install my v5 earlier today. Not compatible with my intel Mac anymore. Is v8.5 a new release, or v9 around the corner? Kind of odd Carrara has only come to v8.5 in all these years.

    Dartanbeck, it was your tuts on youtube that made me look into Carrara 8.5, by the way. Thanks for sharing! ;-)

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,555
    edited December 1969

    snekkis said:
    It will be a single CPU then, and I've learned my lesson about using the easy money before ;-)

    Until Octane is finished, I'll be starting on the board, RAM and CPU first, picking one at the time, graphic card last, but I see on otoy about multi GPU. That might be a way to look into. Any downfalls on multi GPU? I'm not doing much animation.

    Tried to install my v5 earlier today. Not compatible with my intel Mac anymore. Is v8.5 a new release, or v9 around the corner? Kind of odd Carrara has only come to v8.5 in all these years.

    Dartanbeck, it was your tuts on youtube that made me look into Carrara 8.5, by the way. Thanks for sharing! ;-)

    From what I've read, C8.5 is pretty stable on the Intel hardware. What OS version are you on?

    I (surprisingly) can use a C7.2 render node on an Intel Core2 duo iMac running Mavericks without many issues.

    The advantage to me for C8.5 isn't Genesis or whatever figure, it would be the 64 bit capability of the app.

  • Dream CutterDream Cutter Posts: 1,215
    edited March 2014

    I agree with you Dart in that the AMDFX really flies and is the best value for rendering. My primary workstation is the FX8350 32gb liquid cooled and its rock stable, and I use its twin as a webserver. I dont use SSD, and mirror raid 0 (redundant) so local storage is slow. Its really not a problem though because if you have massive ram, you are over cached anyways and my renders write to disk in the background anyways. The other FX that is now my webserver used to be my render farm. It was a really good performing combination, and the cow generated 2/3 the renders from the host so performance scaled by about 66%. That was using one nic in each and a gigabit switch between. The AMD FX is super fast for renders, however a I7 is no slouch and they kept up with the FX, however are a bit more costly. Price/performance value really goes to AMD on the server/workstation CPU because current generation Xeon's are quite expensive.

    I will give you an idea of Opteron vs FX performance, since the Opteron is built from FX CPU architecture. Compared to the FX worstation serving the render a single 16 core Operton InterLagos can't keep up as a render farm node in most renders*. I think Magny Corures can though because its got 1:1 floating point / cpu. (hard to find) The InterLagos and Abu Dhabi which is currently shipping have 1 CPU : .5 FPU so there are 8 FPU's on a 16 core chip, however double the bandwith to the FPU. AMD shifted performance to virtualization capabilities rather than HPC. Google has more cash than the R&D clients I suppose. With Dual Interlagos 6200 (approx $450/chip) and Dual NIC (see above) you can achieve a better than 1:1 rendering performance ratio with the Host. In fact dual Opteron cows beat the FX in certain types of renders. *Spectral atmospheres, multiple lights, liquid, subsurface scattering and other advanced effectswill crush the FX and its when the Opteron shows its stuff. This is because the FX 8 cores cant get the fp operations fast enough from the 2 floating point units even with the 128 bit bandwith. This render took less than a day, note the dynamic water & textures:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwPGksE6OjQ

    Also, another benifit of the affordable FX- You now or very soon find availability of 5000ghz chips :)

    Post edited by Dream Cutter on
  • snekkissnekkis Posts: 13
    edited December 1969

    From what I've read, C8.5 is pretty stable on the Intel hardware. What OS version are you on?

    I (surprisingly) can use a C7.2 render node on an Intel Core2 duo iMac running Mavericks without many issues.

    The advantage to me for C8.5 isn't Genesis or whatever figure, it would be the 64 bit capability of the app.

    I'm on Mavericks, late 2009 iMac and late 2011 Macbook. Going for PC hardware when it comes to rendering. Sure, I believe it'll work on my machines, but I'm already a sucker for Octane now. Doing 3D on PC and video on Mac. No way I'm going to do 3D on Mac anymore, and no way I do video on PC. On video I'm Mac all the way.

  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 1,725
    edited December 1969

    When thinking about Octane, one of the most important considerations is VRAM, since the entire scene must fit in the ram on your graphics card (and of course that it's an Nvidia card - also Octane isn't compatible with the GTX 750 yet).

    Systems with multiple cards are quite commonly used. Sometimes there will be one card for display, and a second (or more) for rendering only. This allows the use of of all the RAM on your GPU for rendering, so you aren't using your resources for monitor display. There are also many setups using two or more cards without a "dedicated" display card. Other than the obvious consideration of having a mother board and power supply capable of using multiple cards, there aren't any other special considerations for your base system. Keep in mind that the RAM on the cards does not combine (i.e. a 2gb card and a 4gb card wont give you 6gb), and you will be limited to the amount of RAM on the card with the least available. So if you have a card with 2gb and one with 4gb and use them both for rendering with Octane, you will be limited to a max of 2gb. But if your using the 2gb card for dislpay only, then you will have the full 4GB on the second card for rendering.

    If purchasing a GPU now for Octane, I'd recommend getting a card with at least 3gb. You can pick up a GTX 760 with 4gb for $250-$300 which would do quite well with Octane. I've seen several posts from people with 3-4 cards in their systems (one guy had 4 Titans - talk about a rending power house with 11,529 cores).

    Due to some of the memory limitations, and the fact that you can't do a lot of render optimization tricks like when using a biased render engine, Octane isn't for everyone. You will also still want to be able to do things with Carrara's renderer for things like epic scenes, and effects or features that Octane might not support. But to get unbiased renders at biased render speeds is quite amazing. The nearly instant feedback from lighting and material changes is also a huge boost to productivity.

    I have the DS plugin for Octane, and I'm really looking forward to the Carrara plugin. After having Octane for over 4 months now, I have absolutely no buyers remorse at all, and I'm still extremely happy with my purchase (and I'm using it on a laptop - not a monster GPU powerhouse).

    One option to consider with you new machine would be to look at Manufacturer Refurbs on Ebay. You can get some pretty sweet deals on 2x quad and hex core Zeon workstations in the 500-1000 dollar range with 16Gb ram (or more). Just add in a GTX 760 or two, and you have an awesome starter render powerhouse machine for $750 to $1,500.

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,963
    edited December 1969

    snekkis said:
    It will be a single CPU then, and I've learned my lesson about using the easy money before ;-)

    Until Octane is finished, I'll be starting on the board, RAM and CPU first, picking one at the time, graphic card last, but I see on otoy about multi GPU. That might be a way to look into. Any downfalls on multi GPU? I'm not doing much animation.

    Tried to install my v5 earlier today. Not compatible with my intel Mac anymore. Is v8.5 a new release, or v9 around the corner? Kind of odd Carrara has only come to v8.5 in all these years.

    Dartanbeck, it was your tuts on youtube that made me look into Carrara 8.5, by the way. Thanks for sharing! ;-)

    Wow, really? Cool!
    I must say... I drool when I see machine stats like Garstor's and Dream Cutter. But my FX8 truly is a great render cpu.
    I did a bunch of research, but I ultimately use my Newegg wish lists to design with. I like having the ability to confidently order all of my stuff from the same place - and their prices are better than fair, with great support should the rare dud come to YOUR house! ;)

    Anyways, as I kick around the cpu offerings, I check that against motherboards. I pay close attention to RAM max and Graphics expandability. Those lower-class cuda cards are great for things like Carrara, and even worked really well with Howler with its new GPU usage. I was more pleased with my cheap Fermi card than I am now with my new ATI card - one that supposedly competes with the GTX 750. Oh well, it works.

    Like Dream Cutter was saying, pay close attention to the power supply. I bought a sub-standard one once and my motherboard lays waste now because of it. So when I built this AMD FX8, I went with a good "Gold" PSU with all of the cables needed for dual graphics cards in case I ever go that route.

    I don't use SSD either, and as a matter of fact, I went with a new (then) Seagate that runs a lower rpm but has a faster GB/Sec throughput. I have noticed no lag from that drive at all - and I wanted to keep my runtimes all on the main drive, so I wanted at least a TB, but got a 1.5 TB main OS drive. RAM was so cheap at the time that going for less than 16GB was nearly the same price! Sweet!

    Dustrider, above, is testing Octane Renderer on more than one platform, and has really been doing some nice work checking things out. So considerations towards future graphics solutions is definitely a worthy consideration in your motherboard. For starters though, I recommend saving some coin in that department, as we always want to eventually get a new card anyways - and it's a really simple afterwards upgrade, if you know what I mean. I never even wanted to replace mine, but the fan bearing was making so much noise (after two years though) that I just couldn't focus. I would have got the same thing, but opted to try something new and different, since it was my Birthday and had some extra cash to play with!

  • RestifRestif Posts: 41
    edited December 1969

    Interesting this topic is up now. I have used an Off the Shelf Asus i7 (2600) with a Quadro 600 card , 8 gigs of ram for the last several years and for the money this system has been rock solid. I am looking to now get a new system build (likely from Puget Systems) and it will so far be a i7 k4770 , quadro k600 (thinking also of the k2000), 2 hard drives, 16 gigs of ram. May think of 32 if I get windows 7 pro.

    I plan to stick with a quadro since almost any gtx or GeForce card I've used in the past has caused problem. The K600 has improved specks and low power usage.

    So easy to put together a $3000 plus (heck I easily configured a 7k system that I will never get ). I want to say around 2k or less if possible.

    I use Carrara a lot, mostly, but play with Lightwave and zbrush. Love to hear your thoughts on what you like with Carrara.

    Learning pleny form this thread.

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,963
    edited December 1969

    I'd love to go with a built system - you get support for everything, etc.,
    But I find loads of saving by building my own, and since my first build, I've become somewhat addicted to it. It's loads of fun when all of the parts have arrived and I get to put it all together.

    I begin with downloading the manual for the motherboard and read through all of the setup instructions while I await my order.

    I have seen Philip Staiger of Project Dogwaffle (used to work for Eovia when they owned Carrara, and it remains his favorite 3d software - he keep updated with the latest, so he's got 8.5 Pro) render with his i7 quad with eight logical cores, and it looks altogether as fast as my AMD FX8. Mine is an older chip, back when the 8 core where Zambezi, now Zambezi has other sizes and the 8s are something else.

    When it come to preference, cost is really my only thing now. But I must say that I have been more than pleased with my FX!

    My motherboard was a lucky score, I think. It's an MSI Military-Class, which is built with higher QA and larger, industrial capacitors. It also had all of the options I was looking for, including support for the new (then) eight core chips and a higher maximum RAM of 32GB for a PC-Class motherboard.

    One day I'd love to build a server-class machine. A lot more money, but also a lot more possibilities.
    But my PC-Class desktop solution works so well with Carrara that my thoughts have been more on the lines of building a newer machine like this one, and using this one as a networked render node for silly-fast rendering. I've never used a render node yet, so I'd imagine I might have to learn new workflows as some things, I seem to recall, come over differently on a node than on the core machine. I'm actually getting quite satisfactory render times to work my production on this machine alone - so I might end up just having two Carrara work locations when I build my next one.

  • Dream CutterDream Cutter Posts: 1,215
    edited March 2014

    Nearly fell out of my chair scrambling for my CC when I saw this ...
    (link removed, it was too good to be true - obsolete version)

    Post edited by Dream Cutter on
  • snekkissnekkis Posts: 13
    edited December 1969

    Too good to be true? I bought two cards of this brand and model, Gigabyte gv-n78toc-3gd gtx780ti for $ 99.34, shipping included. It's from a China shop. I've shopped there a lot. If you get conned, you open a dispute and get your money back, just like Paypal. We'll see.

    They say it's already shipped. Maybe I get at the end of next week. I haven't started on my machine yet, but I'll try them as a dual card on my son's machine first :-P

    See if I can try to benchmark it in the Octane demo, if the cards works.

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