Wanting to build a small render farm

Started by newbhat, June 13, 2011, 02:22:39 pm

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newbhat

Hi everyone, I've been lurking on this forum for a while now, but I'm seeking a bit of help now.

I want to build a small render farm as my senior project in High School, and i've been googling a lot the past few weeks but have only found bits and pieces for the specific thing I want to do. As far as I know i've got all the necessary hardware to build a small render farm (4-5 nodes, from older athlon 64 2000's and up, switch, etc), I'm just downright confused when it comes to the queue managers and such. I don't know if it's possible, but i'd like to keep the farm linux only, at least on the slave nodes. I'd also like to use either drqueue or squidnet (I can use it for free if i have under 10 nodes, i believe) for my managers.

I don't know what the easiest way would be, but if any of you could point me in the right direction, I'd really appreciate it. :)

Oshyan

Terragen doesn't run natively on Linux so if you want to use Linux nodes, you'll need to use WINE to run it. For simple rendering this should work ok, with some potential performance penalty. Using the GUI under WINE can be much less reliable.

- Oshyan

newbhat

Hm, perhaps keeping it under windows would work better, especially if i'm not gonna have super performance anyways. Would drqueue be easier to use than squidnet? I found a guide on how to compile and install it on xp, but is that a good route to go? I'm not sure how stable it is. I've also been trying to figure out how to use the command line renderer, but are there any other guides other than the text file located in the program folder?

Oshyan

Unfortunately I don't have any experience with either DrQueue or Squidnet, so I can't give specific information on how they would be working with TG2. Any queue manager that supports arbitrary commandline executables and options should work though.

The commandline.txt file has all available information about the commandline switches and support. Other than that TG2 works as a pretty standard commandline app.

- Oshyan

newbhat

June 13, 2011, 03:21:51 pm #4 Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 05:11:07 pm by newbhat
I guess I'll just have to read up on commandline apps then as I'm not very familiar with them :D

Thanks for the advice though, Oshyan.

If anyone reading this has a render farm setup with drqueue or squidnet, I'd really appreciate hearing from you.

neon22

June 13, 2011, 06:49:45 pm #5 Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 06:51:48 pm by neon22
When I last looked - and it wasn't recently - Condor seemed like a good solution.
It can handle command line clients like TG2 well (it has deeper integration for programs you can get the source to but CLI is fine too)
http://www.cs.wisc.edu/condor/

DrQueue and Squidnet seem well suited for running your own farm.
DrQueue has nice python bindings and appears to be free.
Squidnet requires a commercial license >8 cores. YMMV

The version I am working on is more for individuals who have a machine and want to participate in community based rendering
http://forums.planetside.co.uk/index.php?topic=12384.msg124774#msg124774
My original code (well version 4) is still available and a discussion is here:
http://forums.planetside.co.uk/index.php?topic=5251.0

You can see an example of how to call TG2 here:
http://forums.planetside.co.uk/index.php?topic=5251.msg57238#msg57238

newbhat

Well, I think DrQueue will be the best choice, if I can get it to work well under windows. At least from the guide that I found.

So, I could pretty much do the same stuff in your batch program? Basically I'd install this on every node, and then set it to render whatever set of frames I choose, with the output pointed at a network drive / NAS server?

neon22

If you were running your own renderfarm you could get better management out of it using one of those tools.

But if you had separate machines (and licenses) then each machine could be looking at the online server and getting one piece at a time to render.
The end result gets ftp'd back up to the server.
If you submitted a job then ftp will deliver the rendered images back to your system for compositing (in case of tile, blends, and Panos). The only data flowing to and from the rendering clients is tgds and rendered images.
Obviously (I hope) when submitting a job you set it up to do whatever you need. When acting as a render client - you get to preferentially do jobs for specific people (probably yourself at the top of that list)

So different mechanism - same end result.
My intention is to make it simple for users to add their machines to the pool - and to do their own renders preferentially (so there is no disadvantage to yourself)

newbhat

That is such a clever idea, neon. But like you said, I could probably manage them better using drqueue and such (for the setup i'm trying to achieve). I just really wish I could find a guide specifically on setting up drqueue with terragen. I'll just keep searching though, perhaps there is one out there. However, if anyone has any extra info, I'd be glad to hear it. :)

newbhat

I've been really busy lately, thus not having much time to work on this. I'm just stuck a bit though. All my systems are p4 / amd 2000's and up, and I was wondering if there was any way I can install terragen onto them with them not having a whole gig of ram. Is it possible to install a command line version only? I'm just really lost on all this, any help would be amazing.

Oshyan

You can use TG2 from the commandline, yes, but the UI doesn't actually use that much memory. With less than 1GB of RAM you would likely only be able to render fairly basic scenes at low-ish resolutions.

- Oshyan

newbhat

July 30, 2011, 05:01:13 pm #11 Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 05:03:10 pm by newbhat
Hmmm, I wasn't able to get it to install with half a gig, but if i loaded them all up with 2 gigs each, I'd be able to render some fairly decent animations If i had about 5-6 systems? Of course it would take quite a while, but that's ok. I'll mess with it some more though. My weekends are a bit hectic at the moment and I've got work still school starts, but I'll definitely be posting back here with more questions, as long as you guys don't mind.

AP

147 PCs. Now that would be something to see. Do you have any photographs of this farm. Is it still around and operational?

Tangled-Universe


Cadmium77

Quote from: newbhat on June 13, 2011, 02:22:39 pm
Hi everyone, I've been lurking on this forum for a while now, but I'm seeking a bit of help now.

I want to build a small render farm as my senior project in High School, and i've been googling a lot the past few weeks but have only found bits and pieces for the specific thing I want to do. As far as I know i've got all the necessary hardware to build a small render farm (4-5 nodes, from older athlon 64 2000's and up, switch, etc), I'm just downright confused when it comes to the queue managers and such. I don't know if it's possible, but i'd like to keep the farm linux only, at least on the slave nodes. I'd also like to use either drqueue or squidnet (I can use it for free if i have under 10 nodes, i believe) for my managers.

I don't know what the easiest way would be, but if any of you could point me in the right direction, I'd really appreciate it. :)



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