Do We Really Believe?

Started by rcallicotte, February 22, 2008, 09:42:26 am

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I got the Quadro FX card. It is mindblowing. I can not believe it. I picked this up on ebay for peanuts. It was several $1000 a few years ago. All the TG2 UI is going at lightening speed now. Smooth as hell. I'm pretty sure rendering has speeded up but I have yet to test that. There were probably  lot of things bottlenecking before and screwing up the CPU performance.

However that's just the minor issue. I've been testing Blender and I can't believe it. With the extra Open GL performance it is flushing my Mac running Modo down the toilet. Blender has sculpting now and even this is fantastic.

So the solution is Linux but not the latest hardware unless you've got money to burn. I dread to think what a comparable graphics card for the Mac would cost and that wouldn't even be top end.



Do you mind me asking you which Quadro FX card Model you have, as I am looking in the near future to buy a system with the Quadro FX 4600, which should be nice?

Regards to you. 



Would you tell me if you've tried Modo on this new machine running Linux?  And...? 

Thanks for everything so far.

Quote from: efflux on March 12, 2008, 08:23:48 am
With the extra Open GL performance it is flushing my Mac running Modo down the toilet.
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?


Quadro FX 3000. This one seems quite quiet which is good. It has a big sink and fan and takes two PCI spaces. I'd say anything more than this would be overkill for TG2 but for the other Open GL apps it has been great. Sadly Wings 3D is useless on Linux now. It's never worked properly for me but maybe I'll try to get it sorted. Some Open GL issue that always happens and it crashes. This is really poor. Too many Windows users and Linux version not getting the support when Linux was the best system for that app.

The sculpting in Blender is definitely usable. It's better than Modo but that's due to the graphics card. Modo sculpting would be much improved If I spent a fortune on a new card for my Mac but that's the point - the cost of Modo and a new card compared to a second hand card and Blender is extreme. ZBrush is worth every penny though no matter what system you run it on. No expensive graphics card needed. It doesn't use it. You might as well forget sculpting in any other app outside of ZBrush to be honest. They are all totally inferior. That's one app that simply has no competition at all.

Some TG2 rendering times:

Linux PIV 3.0 GHz (hyperthreading disabled)                        0:4:18
Windows XP PIV 3.0 GHz (hyperthreading disabled)              0:3:50
Mac G5 2.0 GHz dual core (using one core for TG2)             0:4:34

This is pretty good for Linux considering TG2 is running on an emulation layer.

I'm not sure I can be bothered trying to get Modo running under Linux because the last time it was impossible to even begin to load it there were so many windows dependencies that needed sorting. I expect it's still the same. Modo performs very well on the Mac for rendering. If only I had a better graphics card on it. There is no ZBrush Mac yet and TG2 won't be so good on my Mac until multi core is enabled but that should also mean I can enable hyperthreading on the Linux box to improve performance.


One thing I have noticed in TG2 is that the UI does get a little messed up here and there but when you click on a button or something it repairs. It's only very minor and it is far superior to the sluggish Mac UI. I'll be using it on Linux I think. Can't be bothered with the Mac version compared to this and I just don't like Windows. You don't have any rebooting in Linux or in OSX when TG2 crashes. It crashes my Windows system completely. Not as often as it used to but it's still annoying and wastes time.

The TG2 Windows performs better for rendering so I wouldn't be rushing to get Linux yet just for TG2. The problem is that upgrades can break apps that ran perfect under Wine. However ZBrush and ArtRage are outperforming Windows on Linux which is great, especially with ZBrush because that's a Windows only app but a superb one and once again ZBrush occasionally crashes Windows. On Linux you just kill the app never a reboot scenario.


March 12, 2008, 11:28:01 am #20 Last Edit: March 12, 2008, 11:36:47 am by efflux
My dream would be a Modo native Linux version. They had one in development but nothing has come of it. People talk about Modo as if it's the be all modeler but it isn't. The best part at present is the renderer. For sculpting I want ZBrush but Modo will one day be a fantastic animation app. The way the animation is integrated through the whole app will make it awesome.


Interesting insights.  zBrush's learning curve seems extreme or is it just the many things we can do with it?  It seems closer to an "all-in-one" app than anything else I know about, as far as modeling goes.  Perhaps, some would disagree.

Looks like the verdict is out on a Linux version of TG2, but there have been some who have asked without any commitment from Planetside.  I can understand.  We'll see...
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?


March 12, 2008, 08:52:39 pm #22 Last Edit: March 12, 2008, 08:55:43 pm by Matt
Hi efflux,

Quote from: efflux on March 09, 2008, 07:02:00 pmLinux runs brilliantly with the HT enabled but TG2 only sees half of the CPU so I keep HT disabled.

If you compare render times with HyperThreading enabled vs. disabled you will probably find that you are not gaining anything by disabling it. Probably the opposite, in fact, even though TG2 is only single-threaded. Ignore what Windows says about % of CPU being used: when you have HT enabled, Windows thinks that there are two processors, so even if a single-threaded app is running at 100% on your HT processor's main pipeline, Windows divides that by 2 and reports 50%. In fact it is still running as fast as it was before, perhaps even slightly faster because background tasks can run on the extra "virtual processor" provided by HT.

I recommend that you always leave HT enabled. It won't slow down TG2, and it will make background tasks run faster.

Just because milk is white doesn't mean that clouds are made of milk.


If and when we do a Linux version it would start as a commandline renderer. That's definitely something we're interested in. A full-blown UI version is less likely, and if it happened it would be well in the future. Linux would have to become a lot more popular to really justify it, especially if we have a Linux render client and Wine works reasonably well as it seems to now.

- Oshyan


March 13, 2008, 04:16:18 am #24 Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 04:25:30 am by efflux
OK I'll experiment with the HT.

Wine is acceptable for full UI TG2. In fact I prefer it to the Mac version but a render client would be ideal.

ZBrush is actually quite easy to learn in my opinion. I don't get why people criticize the UI. I think it's brilliant. I love the ZSpheres. There is no other way to model organic forms so quick.

One thing I find is that to do good stuff in ZBrush i.e. characters you need to know anatomy even if the stuff you are doing is not life like. I can draw but I'm used to drawing from life. I'll be doing some work learning anatomy.

This looks really good:

People criticize it but what they don't get is that this guy is not teaching you how to draw he is teaching you how to invent a human form from your mind. If you can't do this you get stuck for ideas in ZBrush.

I've got Wings 3D working now. The version in the Ubuntu repository is compiled with the wrong version of Erlang and has been for ages. Plus, my old graphics card had problems with it. The version from the Wings site works but the stable version is better. It has the new Open GL shaders whereas the unstable version hasn't for some reason.

I'm experimenting with taking full mesh terrains into Blender from TG2. The difference now is that I can do it without the Open GL collapsing. The trouble is this divided terrain output. I'm not sure how to join it again in Blender or any app for that matter. It might seem like a simple task but I haven't actually found a way of doing it. For certain reasons, I need to be able to treat the whole mesh as one. It's very annoying because this terrain would have benefitted from smoothing but if it is separated I can't do this. All done on Linux including the TG2 part. Blender is fast for rendering but if you want global illumination you have to use Yafray then render times go into nightmares. That's why Modo is so good. Very fast global illumination.

I'll have to eventually try going the other way - bringing models into TG2.


March 13, 2008, 09:49:50 am #25 Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 09:56:19 am by efflux
One of the problems with Linux is monitor drivers. I think Ubuntu sets this up on install even if proprietary drivers are used but eventually you end up having to change something like when I added this Qaudro card. I couldn't find out exactly what driver I needed. NVidia didn't bother explaining that (typical Linux). So I used this app which analyzed my card then got the driver and installed it. It didn't set my resolution correctly but the NVidia driver had a GUI for doing that. I also changed something in the Gnome desktop settings for monitor. The trouble with all this was that these things were all dumping various data into this file called xorg.conf. When my computer started it was still wrong resolution. The xorg was a mess, my tablet no longer worked but I had the original xorg file. I de-installed the app for getting the right driver and I dumped my original xorg back in (which was wrong because I now had the Qaudro) so then I started the NVidia app which dumped the correct extra data into the xorg. Linux backs up files when they get changed. You always have previous versions.

This is all takes a bit of time to learn. You need to know about the xorg. You can install Ubuntu and it doesn't give you full root admin easily. This is for security and the system can't get messed up but sometimes you have to do a few things due to unusual hardware configuration like work station graphics cards that hardly anyone uses. However, once it works then that's it. It will carry on working forever without ever crashing or slowing down, as long as the computer lasts. Installing all your apps doesn't create any problems. It's only the hardware configuration that is tricky.

Sadly Linux forums are full of total geeks that are very unhelpful telling you to do this and that always by command line. Command line is good in one way - easy for someone to give you a solution but also easy for someone to give you a wrong solution. I don't always use command line - that's why we have GUI. For example I have a script that opens files as root to edit from a right click menu - you can put scripts anywhere to do anything from a menu. The GUI makes it easy to visually remember where folders and files are and things on menus. That's the point of GUI.

I wouldn't want to put anyone off trying Linux though. It is definitely worth using it. Some stuff has to be learnt but imagine if you knew nothing about Windows. People are just use to it.


Here are the hyperthreading render results for the same file I used before:

Windows XP 0:03:49
Linux Wine   0:04:45

Windows is more or less the same. I don't notice any improvements in Windows with HT and some apps don't work well at all but those apps are not in use now. I'll keep the HT enabled.

Linux Wine is slower with HT however there is a benefit. The general system and UI is much improved even in Wine. That's good for TG2.

Linux does noticeably improve when you enable HT especially with multi thread native apps. An SSE2 optimized Blender running on two threads is almost twice the speed for rendering as the standard Blender running without HT.


OK, I just got a new result. When I set Wine to emulate Windows 2003 instead of XP I get a render timer of:


Also, TG2 generally seems to perform a bit better. I have no idea why this would be the case.

TG2 is actually performing superbly now under Wine apart from slower rendering (but not bad) so a good fast graphics card is the solution otherwise it'll be like a slug. This is totally usable and in fact FAR superior to the sluggish UI handling on the Mac. Not that the Mac version is bad. Macs are generally a little sluggish in UI anyway. I would probably would be much better off with a higher powered graphics card in the Mac but it's not worth it. I use the Mac for audio. Also, the Mac version has been very solid from a reliability point of view. Never crashes. No crashes yet under Linux Wine either.


Good to know.  Not sure why Windows 2003 emulation would outperform XP, unless it's using the CPU differently to handle different services.

This would be interesting to test on the next Beta version.  Are you planning to do any tests on these difference after the next version comes out?
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?


March 19, 2008, 12:31:11 pm #29 Last Edit: March 19, 2008, 01:02:53 pm by efflux
When the next version comes out I'll be testing straight away for sure.

I'm just leaving HT enabled now on both systems. Some problem occurred in the past on the Windows box so I disabled HT. I can't remember what the problem was.

A couple of side issues.

On Windows and on Mac, TG2 can look for upgrades. This doesn't work on Linux. In fact I never even have my Windows system hooked to the net so is there any other way to download upgrades? I just used that way in the past and didn't notice any other.

Another unrelated side story about Linux. I thought my Mac was king of audio. It was. I had tested Linux on several occasions in the last few years for audio. Using realtime kernels and fully blown multimedia customized distributions. Linux audio was not that great. Firstly, only a customized system really performed. That performed brilliantly but software wasn't too hot.

Now it is a totally different story! Linux audio is awesome even without a realtime kernel and standard Ubuntu it is working great. A realtime kernel or a fully customized streamlined distribution will most certainly outperform my Mac. I've been testing this:

Since my last test this software has come on by miles.