Wednesday, 19 December 2012

What to Consider When Installing Render Nodes

Whenever you are thinking about installing a large number of render nodes, you should consider power and cooling. This is because multiple systems will be placed in an enclosed room thereby consuming power and generating heat. As a result of this, you should think about the number of nodes that can fit in the space provided. If you are a freelancer using a home studio, you may really be enticed to construct 10 identical boxes but if you don't keep power consumption in mind, you might have yourself to blame.

The electrical standard in the United States' homes is 110V at 15amps meaning that the maximum for a standard circuit is 1,650W. In some houses, there are 20amps breakers which give you more freedom but if you actually want to put 10 nodes in your home, you can split them up into two groups of five. The five may still use up most of the power available to the circuit they are on but keep in mind that with a low thermal design power (TDP) processor, these systems should only use up about 140W of power each at 100% utilization, depending on real processor used, chipset, motherboard and hard drive. Across the 10 systems, 1,400W may be used up which is close to the utmost yield of an average household line.

Moreover, your next concern after power should be cooling. Quite a lot of 1U systems put in a restricted area will produce warm air in abundance behind the boxes. However, in a bid to improve airflow efficiency, you can maintain a hot aisle/cold aisle layout, whereby the systems draw in cool air from one side and then exhaust it out through the other side. You should also ensure that there is cool airflow at the front of the systems and a way to empty the air behind them, hence, do not put the back of your rack against the wall.

In addition, redundancy should also be a major concern to you. If one node goes down, a portion of your render farm could be lost. Consequently, you can build a spare node which should not be used at all times in order not to defeat the purpose of building it. With multiple render nodes, it is imperative to host the files for your software somewhere else and not on the production workstation, particularly if you are trying to make use of the workstation while the others systems are rendering.

Cassie Songs is a CG expert and she writes regularly on issues relating to the industry including vray render farm, a blender render farm, render farm studios and so on.

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