Renderfarm Advice

edited December 1969 in Carrara Discussion

Boy, it has been a while since the last time I posted one of these. ok, so here is my advice for people who want to build their own renderfarm.

1. The Network - You will need a SOLID home network to run a renderfarm. Many WiFi Solutions do not offer this.
A. Gigabit Ethernet Switch - Make sure you use a Switch and not a Hub. On a hub you can get data collisions that slow down the transfer of data. Most modern switches are rock solid in their performance at the levels you need for a renderfarm.
B. Cables - Make sure your Ethernet Cables are Cat5e or Cat6e. If they don't have that e on the end then you won't get the gigabit speeds your router is capable of.
C. The IP addresses - Your computers need to be on the same subnet as each other for them to be found. If your subnet is 255.255.255.0 then the first three numbers of your IP addresses for all your computers MUST be the same. So you can have a network of 192.168.1.X or a network of 192.168.2.X It doesn't matter as long as those first three numbers are the same.
D. If your computer has more than one network device/port then Carrara can look to the wrong network for your rendernodes. In the Carrara settings you can choose to manually set your IP Address/Subnet that your computer will look on. This most often happens with computers that have both a wifi and ethernet port.

2. The Computers - These are the work horses of any render. When rendering a single image all the computers will work on the same picture. When rendering an animation each computer will take a DIFFERENT frame of the animation to render.
A. 64bit vs 32bit. 64bit computers can have more RAM, so do less pageswaps with the hard drive. Thus the more RAM you have the faster your render will go, overall. A 32bit system only has 4GB of ram available to it, so will, overall, be slower than a 64bit system. No, you can't run the 64bit version of Rendernode on your 32bit system.
B. Running on everything - Yes, you can run on every windows and apple computer in your house. Just be aware that a machine that is too slow may slow some other things down as other computers wait for them to finish their work. Also, I know from experience that large scenes on a 386 Intel Computer can cause the computer to choke. Honestly, you will be happier if you run on the more modern, multicore systems.
D. Folders - I reccomend sharing your Carrara Rendernode folder on your Rendernode Machine with your home network. When you install new plants or plugins for Carrara, you will need to copy your main machines Data and Extensions folders into your Rendernode computers Carrara Rendernode folder. Otherwise your nodes may render very different looking squares than your main machine.
E. Managing all those computers - I use VNC and WOL to start up and control my rendernode machines. VNC is Virtual Network Computing and allows you to remote into your node machines from your main machine. WOL is Wake on LAN. Electricity can be expensive and you will want your rendernodes shut down when not in use. WOL allows you to wake up the rendernode machines from your main machine.
F. Windows Updates - TURN IT OFF on your render machines, including your main machine. Get in the habit of checking for updates when you start the machines instead. Nothing ruins a render more than Microsoft downloading and installing something 2 days into the render!
G. Firewall - If your router has a firewall, you might want to turn it off on the rendernodes. If not, then you will need to open exceptions in your firewall for the Carrara ports. You can check these in the preferences settings of carrara.
H. Graphics cards - These don't matter on rendernodes, Carrara doesn't use them. so just use some onboard graphics or whatever card is cheapest.
I. RAM - More is better, but make sure your operating system can support the amount of RAM you want to use.
J. Identification - Put your computer's name on it's desktop. I like to use paint to make a big white square with the computer's name in big black letters which I then make my desktop picture. Otherwise you can forget which computer your working with.
K. Your wife's computer - Rendernode software WILL use up all the computers resources when it is rendering an image. You will make your wife upset if you install it on her computer and slow it down when she want's to play Dragon Age.

3. Using the Rendernodes
A. You can only use Rendernodes in Batch Renders. To use a Batch Render, save your current work. Go to the Render panel. Select the Batch Render tab. Use Add to add the file you saved your work as to the batch queue. When you click on launch it will launch the render.
B. You must have Batch Rendering selected in the Render panel.
C. If you can't find your rendernodes in your Manage Rendernode panel then don't launch the render, your computer can't find the nodes and there is probably a networking problem.
D. Once you have Batch Launched, you must remain on the Render screen, you can't go to the other tabs and do more work while things are rendering.
E. Set your Rendersquare size down to 48 pixels or less. this is particularly important for single image renders. With big blocks you will always end up waiting extra time for that one machine to render that last block.
F. Clearing a hung rendernode - Occasionally something will happen where a node will lock or you will need to adjust your render machines. First, left-click on Pause on your render screen on your main machine. Second, go to the locked node and restart the Rendernode Software. the render screen on your main machine should close the render window. Third, check your Manage Render to make sure all the machines are available again... if not you may need to restart the rendernode software on the other machines. Finally, Left-click on Resume on the main machine's Render screen.

I hope this all helps you!

Boojum the brown bunny

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Comments

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,966
    edited December 1969

    Oh bravo! Thank you so much! :)

  • That Other PersonaThat Other Persona Posts: 381
    edited April 2014

    Nicely done!

    One word of caution: render node does not work well under Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks. For me, it does not work at all. Daz has been aware of this problem since October but have not produced a fix yet. I hope it comes out soon because I have an awesome system waiting to render away effortlessly.

    The work-around is just to install C on each machine, manually drag files over and run segments of each render, then recombine them all at the end.

    With Share Screen this is actually not so difficult; everything can be done sitting in front of a single computer. Or, if you have an iMac and a mini or Pro, the iMac can work as a display for both, if you have Thunderbolt.

    Post edited by That Other Persona on
  • DUDUDUDU Posts: 1,806
    edited December 1969

    You should publish this tuto on Carraracafé so that it does not disappear in the deep of this forum.

  • magaremotomagaremoto Posts: 924
    edited December 1969

    I second everything pointed out by boojumbunn; one more thing to add in my experience is to group machines with same cpu core number, otherwise you easily slow down the most performing ones

  • edited December 1969

    You should publish this tuto on Carraracafé so that it does not disappear in the deep of this forum.

    When I posted the Carrara Cafe was down. It had a "Will return soon" image up. I have no problem reposting it there. It seems to be up now.

    Boojum

  • edited December 1969

    I second everything pointed out by boojumbunn; one more thing to add in my experience is to group machines with same cpu core number, otherwise you easily slow down the most performing ones

    Actually, I haven't seen that. My main machine is an i7 running at about 3.4 gHZ with 8 cores. My renderfarm machines are Q8800 quad core machines running at about 3.4 gHZ. They definitely cut the render time significantly over my single machine... but the secret is to render LITTLE blocks so that you don't get slowed down at the end of the image. I normally render 48 block size, after a lot of experimenting to see what block size renders the fastest on my Renderfarm.

    Is it possible that your different core machines not only had different number of cores but also had a slower clock rate or less ram?

    Boojum the brown bunny

  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    You should publish this tuto on Carraracafé so that it does not disappear in the deep of this forum.

    When I posted the Carrara Cafe was down. It had a "Will return soon" image up. I have no problem reposting it there. It seems to be up now.

    Boojum

    yeah sorry..., we are renovating over there... Mind the sawdust and scaffolding, but still open for business. ;)

  • edited December 1969

    yeah sorry..., we are renovating over there... Mind the sawdust and scaffolding, but still open for business. ;)

    *blush* I posted to the wrong section of the forums over there... I don't suppose it can be moved over? I can't edit it to change it myself.

    Boojum

  • wetcircuitwetcircuit Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    yeah sorry..., we are renovating over there... Mind the sawdust and scaffolding, but still open for business. ;)

    *blush* I posted to the wrong section of the forums over there... I don't suppose it can be moved over? I can't edit it to change it myself.

    Boojum
    HA! sure. Maybe I will copy it into an article and put it on the front page? Would that be ok?

  • edited December 1969


    HA! sure. Maybe I will copy it into an article and put it on the front page? Would that be ok?

    Sure, I'm sorry for the trouble. Since it was a copy/paste I rushed things a bit and wasn't paying attention like I should have.
    Boojum

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,560
    edited December 1969

    Nicely done!

    One word of caution: render node does not work well under Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks. For me, it does not work at all. Daz has been aware of this problem since October but have not produced a fix yet. I hope it comes out soon because I have an awesome system waiting to render away effortlessly.

    The work-around is just to install C on each machine, manually drag files over and run segments of each render, then recombine them all at the end.

    With Share Screen this is actually not so difficult; everything can be done sitting in front of a single computer. Or, if you have an iMac and a mini or Pro, the iMac can work as a display for both, if you have Thunderbolt.

    That's strange. By rights I shouldn't be able to launch a C7.2 render node on an Intel iMac with Mavericks, yet I do with regularity.

    By the way, I just skimmed the thread so far, but just in case it hasn't been mentioned, it's a good idea to manually clear out the Carrara render node's temp files as Carrara isn't very good at it. I don't know where it is on Windows, or versions later than C7, but on my Mac network it is in a DAZ folder in Documents.

  • edited December 1969


    By the way, I just skimmed the thread so far, but just in case it hasn't been mentioned, it's a good idea to manually clear out the Carrara render node's temp files as Carrara isn't very good at it. I don't know where it is on Windows, or versions later than C7, but on my Mac network it is in a DAZ folder in Documents.

    That's a very good point. On windows, Carrara is pretty good at clearing out temp files unless your render crashes.. then it leves them in the Documents/Daz3D/DazTmp (unless you have moved where your temp folder is.) Thank you for posting where it is on Mac's, since I'm not currently using my in my farm.

    Everyone remember, if there is a folder you often have to access, delete, or copy from or to.. SHARE it on your home network so you don't have to hop from machine to machine. So if you want to easily check on the DazTmp folder, then Share your Daz3d folder and you'll have access to copy and paste and delete whatever you want.

    Boojum the brown bunny

  • Analog-X64Analog-X64 Posts: 107
    edited December 1969

    Excellent!!! :) One thing I'd like to add, which I didn't notice in the original post.

    If you do any kind of text or text effect. You need to make sure the font being used is installed on all the other render machines, or you will get a very messed up render.

  • edited December 1969

    Excellent!!! :) One thing I'd like to add, which I didn't notice in the original post.

    If you do any kind of text or text effect. You need to make sure the font being used is installed on all the other render machines, or you will get a very messed up render.


    *blush* Very true, unless you transform the text into another sort of object. I forgot about that. I used to run into that when I was making flying logo's. You also have to ACTIVATE any plugins you have.. like the baker plugin.. on each rendernode.
    Boojum the brown bunny

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,560
    edited December 1969

    Great point about the text. I usually convert it to a vertex model.

  • AntaraAntara Posts: 444
    edited December 1969

    Thank you!!! It is something I will need to create at some point, so this is getting saved and studied. Thank you for creating this thread and sharing your knowledge!

  • Analog-X64Analog-X64 Posts: 107
    edited December 1969


    *blush* Very true, unless you transform the text into another sort of object. I forgot about that. I used to run into that when I was making flying logo's. You also have to ACTIVATE any plugins you have.. like the baker plugin.. on each rendernode.
    Boojum the brown bunny

    Thanks for making this, I'm rebuilding my render farm in the coming weeks and I'll use this as my check list.

    The main render farm will be
    3 x Quad Cores all have 8 GB of Ram.
    8 x Core 2 Duo they all have 2GB of RAM should be ok for the kind of these I render.

    I have a Cisco 24 Port Gigabit switch plus good quality Cat 6e patch cables.

  • magaremotomagaremoto Posts: 924
    edited December 1969

    I second everything pointed out by boojumbunn; one more thing to add in my experience is to group machines with same cpu core number, otherwise you easily slow down the most performing ones

    Actually, I haven't seen that. My main machine is an i7 running at about 3.4 gHZ with 8 cores. My renderfarm machines are Q8800 quad core machines running at about 3.4 gHZ. They definitely cut the render time significantly over my single machine... but the secret is to render LITTLE blocks so that you don't get slowed down at the end of the image. I normally render 48 block size, after a lot of experimenting to see what block size renders the fastest on my Renderfarm.

    Is it possible that your different core machines not only had different number of cores but also had a slower clock rate or less ram?

    Boojum the brown bunny

    nice to hear that it can work; my little renderfarm consists of 2 8cores and 4 quadcores, all from 8 up to 16 mb ram; when launch the render in my main machine the render time of two frames is higher with all the nodes jointly than two groups divided (four cores and eight cores). Moreover the two 8 cores are always faster even though the overall frequency of the clock and ram are virtually identical; I think it may be network dependent

  • Analog-X64Analog-X64 Posts: 107
    edited April 2014

    Now that I'm rebuilding my render farm, I've got a tip and question.

    Question: How many nodes can you have? Way back in earlier versions it used to be 25 Nodes, later this was reduced to 5 and I think I read somewhere you can now have 10?


    TIP
    You can run BG Info on your render nodes which will show you some very useful info, like your computer name.

    What is cool is BG info writes the information to the background image and exists, so it doesn't chew up resources.

    Check it out here:
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-ca/sysinternals/bb897557.aspx

    Post edited by Analog-X64 on
  • eyeseeeyesee Posts: 161
    edited December 1969

    Speed Boost tip not just relevant to render farm nodes but for any machine.

    If you've plugged plenty of RAM into your motherboard then a RAM DRIVE will give your system a speed hit. Ram Drive software uses a portion of your ram to create a virtual disc drive, which behaves and is recognised as any other drive in your system. However, it runs at the speed of your memory which is faster than any disc can go, be it HD or SSD (both SATA and the much faster PCI express versions) .

    The version that came with my motherboard (check your motherboard installation disc(s) you may already have a free one) is automatically used for any temporary files that windows creates including DAZTMP. Cleaning the contents is a no brainer, as it's created fresh every time you restart your machine.


    Hope this helps someone :-)

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,966
    edited December 1969

    That's cool to know. Nowadays, plenty of RAM sold in packs is such a great investment, that I certainly have more than what Task Manager says I'm ever using. I'll have to look into this. Thanks eyesee!

  • eyeseeeyesee Posts: 161
    edited April 2014

    Didn't think to check this until now. Even though the RAM DRIVE software I'm using is written and supplied by my motherboard manufacturer it's NOT specific to the motherboard and will work for any windows system.

    I've done a quick software survey and it appears to be superior to other's in that rather than just creating a RAM Drive which you then have to manually specify the use of, it has different categories of system and temporary files that it automatically takes care of and it's FREE. Propriety versions can be very expensive for what they're doing.

    It's available as a free download for all flavours of Windows from

    http://www.asrock.com/MB/AMD/990FX Extreme3/index.us.asp?cat=Download

    1. Select you windows version.
    2. On the next page scroll down to the ASROCK Xfast RAM utility - at time of posting only the Asian download server is working.

    Also, when a program gives you the option of specifying the location and size of scratch disc/space (like Carrara) this would be a good place to put it. I did baulk at doing this for Photoshop as it recommends a minimum scratch disc size of 14 GB (if my old memory serves me right).

    Eyesee ("Build a man a fire and he'll be warm for a day. SET a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life" - Terry Pratchet) :lol:

    Post edited by eyesee on
  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,560
    edited December 1969

    RAM disks are also availablr on the Mac OS as well. I even used to use them occasionally back in the OS 9 days.

  • Analog-X64Analog-X64 Posts: 107
    edited December 1969

    What about Readyboost? Its built into Windows Vista and up.

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-ca/windows7/products/features/readyboost

    You simply plug in a USB Thumb drive and it uses it to speed up your PC

    My Core 2 duo systems are older Dells and They only have 2 GB of ram each.

    Maybe I should pickup thumb drives and use the readyboost feature.

    What do you guys think?

  • eyeseeeyesee Posts: 161
    edited April 2014

    The free Ram Drive software above allows you to allocate some memory for ready boost purpose.

    Sorry - missed your info about your memory restrictions. Apologies


    Eyesee ;-)

    Post edited by eyesee on
  • Analog-X64Analog-X64 Posts: 107
    edited December 1969

    eyesee said:
    The free Ram Drive software above allows you to allocate some memory for ready boost purpose.

    Sorry - missed your info about your memory restrictions. Apologies


    Eyesee ;-)

    So what do you think? I should pick up USB thumb drives for these units and use a combination of ready boost and the ram drive software? Or just the Ram Drive software.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,560
    edited December 1969

    The thing with using a RAM disk is that it isolates and reserves that portion of physical RAM that you've set aside for the virtual disk. That means if you have a program that needs RAM it won't be able to access the RAM. If you're using it for a swap file, you may be fine, but if it's being lightly utilized it's kind of going to waste. With the 64 bit hardware and OSes, and the large amounts of physical RAM they can use, it shouldn't be as much of an issue. If you're on a 32 bit system where the most RAM you can have is 4 GB, then it may not be worth setting up a RAM disk.

  • eyeseeeyesee Posts: 161
    edited December 1969

    Excellent point Evil Producer! - You know there's things you can do to stop getting red eye in your images. :lol:

    Eyesee (Jedi Tea Master - Come over to the dark side Evil Producer. We have Assam and biscuits)

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,560
    edited December 1969

    eyesee said:
    Excellent point Evil Producer! - You know there's things you can do to stop getting red eye in your images. :lol:

    Eyesee (Jedi Tea Master - Come over to the dark side Evil Producer. We have Assam and biscuits)

    If you mean MSFT. then I'm like a bad maid- I don't do Windows. ;-)

  • eyeseeeyesee Posts: 161
    edited April 2014

    Have you considered seeing a photographer. A course or two of Photoshop will clear that up in a jiffy.
    And, you know, being a Photoshop user doesn't have the social stigma today that it used to have and it's OS agnostic as well !

    I know. I know what your thinking.... Long term recreational use can really mess up an image. I know. But short term use, with professional guidance can really do an image good and you'll feel soooo much better afterwards. What do you think? Want to give it a go?


    ;-P

    Eyesee (Jedi Tea Master - Green Tea, Yoda's Favourite!)

    Post edited by eyesee on
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