Mac minis as render nodes

Started by james adamson, March 05, 2020, 09:36:35 am

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james adamson

Has anyone used mac minis as render nodes?

WAS

March 05, 2020, 01:05:10 pm #1 Last Edit: March 05, 2020, 02:30:11 pm by WAS
Do you got one lying around? Couldn't hurt. Otherwise you're much better off getting a used workstation with many more cores and RAM. You can get older Xeon Dells for example around 250+ for a 12-24 core / 24gb RAM machine. Cores are a little slow but will perform much better than a mac mini.

Additionally your Mac Mini would need to be running Linux in VM, which would suffer performance loss, unless Linux was natively installed.

This is what I should have done, but I went for a pre-build so I could game, but man really taking the hit on RAM. Can't wait to get more.

Have a quick glance here as a proof of concept with these old machines, plenty to be found: https://www.ebay.com/i/113636952445?chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-117182-37290-0&mkcid=2&itemid=113636952445&targetid=885787207871&device=c&mktype=pla&googleloc=9033362&poi=&campaignid=6469750693&mkgroupid=89345420792&rlsatarget=aud-622524042918:pla-885787207871&abcId=1141176&merchantid=6296724 (that link though)

And another: https://www.ebay.com/i/282921207198?chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-117182-37290-0&mkcid=2&itemid=282921207198&targetid=885504760305&device=c&mktype=pla&googleloc=9033362&poi=&campaignid=9343999167&mkgroupid=103102855428&rlsatarget=aud-622524042918:pla-885504760305

And one from Newegg (can configure memory, and storage): https://www.newegg.com/dell-precision-t7600/p/1VK-0001-4MV27?item=9SIAC0F9K13031&source=region&nm_mc=knc-googlemkp-pc&cm_mmc=knc-googlemkp-pc-_-pla-pc+server+and+parts-_-desktop+pc-_-9SIAC0F9K13031

sboerner

QuoteAdditionally your Mac Mini would need to be running Linux in VM, which would suffer performance loss, unless Linux was natively installed.
Couldn't you just run it from the command line on the OS X Unix shell?


I'd be concerned about keeping it cool. My understanding is that minis can run hot on CPU-intensive tasks. (Pretty sure I almost burned out my Macbook's fan by using it as a renderer. Don't do that anymore. :P )

WAS

March 05, 2020, 08:36:08 pm #3 Last Edit: March 05, 2020, 08:41:13 pm by WAS
Quote from: sboerner on March 05, 2020, 07:58:14 pmCouldn't you just run it from the command line on the OS X Unix shell?

I don't know, could you? I thought it was a Linux application. You'd need to compile it for Unix, wouldn't you? I don't think everything it's going to call for is going to be in the same place on a Unix system, let alone Mac. I could be wrong.

Oh, I think you mean command line with Terragen itself. That'd definitely work, though with such a limited machine, running a graphical OS with tons of bloat just to open a cmd line to start a render is highly redundant imo. You'd get much better performance, even out of the mac mini out of a SSH session with no graphical desktop.

When I hear "Render Node" i think of the Terragen Render Node for Linux and doing stuff like automatic scheduling of renders etc.

sboerner

QuoteOh, I think you mean command line with Terragen itself.
Yeah, that's what I was thinking. You can disable the GUI and run the renderer from the command line. Used to do it a lot on my Mac Pro. Now that I'm on a PC I run everything from the graphical interface. My DOS experience dates from eons ago and my batch file skills are pretty rusty I'm afraid.



QuoteWhen I hear "Render Node" i think of the Terragen Render Node for Linux and doing stuff like automatic scheduling of renders etc.
Maybe that's what James has in mind.

james adamson

Thanks for the feedback.
I am after the simplest most cost effective way to sling a few more processors into my setup. I was thinking the easiest and cheapest would be a couple of mac minis with my macbook as interface to kick off renders. But yeah they may overheat if they are chugging big ol Terragen scenes through. The quad core ones are hard to find now as well and they aint that cheap.
Cheers.
James.

WAS

Yeah, if you want to maintain a reasonable temp you'd probably be turning off a couple cores, and wouldn't really be benefiting you for the cost, which is why I suggested old workstations. Often better performance, with good air flow. That last link from Newegg for their custom setups of old workstations is a wonderful deal imo. 32gb system is only about 308 i think the calculator said for my region.

james adamson

Yeah that kinda looked like it blows the mini out of the water on power and price. Im on a Mac license though I do not know if I can mix and match.

WAS

Quote from: james adamson on March 06, 2020, 03:03:35 pmYeah that kinda looked like it blows the mini out of the water on power and price. Im on a Mac license though I do not know if I can mix and match.

I do not believe Operating System is a concern, just concurrent install limits. I have my license on my Windows machine and a dedicated Linux server I'm leasing.

james adamson