best machine to renderer?

Discuss stuff not about Indigo.
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Post by Sukrim » Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:22 pm

I was calculating rather conservatively (no special offer - 199 GBP for Q6600 + MoBo + RAM is really cheap!), no overclocking and with 8 GB RAM (since it's cheap these days) but if you like I can calculate more agressively:

Phenom 9850BE: 140€
MoBo that is able to overclock well: 90€
4GB RAM (2*2GB): 30€ (!)
1/2 PSU: ~25€

9850BE can be overclocked up to ~3,1 GHz, I'd say around 2,9 GHz is realistical with boxed cooler
~285€ --> 300€ per node + 11,6GHz --> ~26€/GHz
Standard clocked:
300€ + 10 GHz --> ~30€/GHz

with i7 you would _have_ to overclock and calculate with ~5 cores (because of HyperThreading) to make it somehow reasonable:

i7 920 250€
Mobo 200€
6GB RAM (3*2GB) 75€
1/2 PSU ~25€

Would mean ~550 - 600€ for 1 node - overclocked @ 3,8 - 4 GHz which is around the maximum for boxed-coolers and taking HyperThreading into account with +25% this would result in 20GHz --> 30€/GHz but for the heavy price of loosing warranty, higher power consumption and you'll need to overclock and maybe adjust the values by hand - which means work and time = money.
You can however save some power if you _underclock_ the machines if they are idling around via CCPUID...

Calculations are without storage, so if you want to have that as well add a few € for something like that: + Adapter = ~20€
Yes it's slow but it's cheap, cool and silent
Or if you need it faster as already suggested:, maybe even in a NAS to boot all nodes from it.

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Post by ave » Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:22 am

Hi all, I got a proposal for a machine based on a number of Intel Xeon X5460, 3.16 Ghz, 12 MB Cache, 1333 MHz FSB.
I could not find any direct comparison with iCore 7, maybe because they are targeted to different markets (This machine is basically a server).
What is your opinion on this?

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Post by fused » Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:57 am

hmm, a decent i7 machine for under 600€...

hard to resist :)

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Post by Kosmokrator » Sat Jan 17, 2009 4:33 am

my sign machine :P
1)Core i7 965XE stock CLOCK ,PSU:CHIEFTEC 850W
MEMORY:6GB CORRSAIR @1600,Ati HD 4870x2,

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Post by Sukrim » Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:11 am

fused wrote:hmm, a decent i7 machine for under 600€...
Beware though that you need Storage + the other 1/2 PSU + Case + maybe better cooling which would mean

550€ already for "naked" Node

125€ decent SSD for System + programs (the upcoming Supertalent Ultradrive looks _really_ promising)
25€ other half of PSU
75€ nice case
50€ Noctua NH-U12P - simply _the_ reference to keep your CPU cooled!
100€ 1TB WD Green
50€ DVD burner/Fans/Cables/stuff I forgot
975€ for a real high-end Workstation (without graphics card/monitor --> 200€ graphics card + 400-500€ or more for a good monitor which should be by far the most expensive part of a computer since you stare at it all the time!)

But even if you buy a graphics card + large Monitor it still will be much cheaper than what you would be charged at say Dell... (I'd guess such a system would be far beyond 2k€ or even 3k€ with graphics + monitor there)


The question is, how long will Intel support this platform, will a future upgrade in 2-3 years be possible or will you have to buy nearly all the stuff again? Or maybe you want to keep the current "farm" and not throw away (or rather sell...) the old CPUs and just extend it with whatever is the next hype then (8 cores i9/i11?)?
I dunno, and this is stuff you guys (not talking to fused here ;) ) have to decide/figure out.


The Xeon X5460 seems to be Dual-CPU capable but I personally don't see much use fur such stuff if you have the place (and the ability to cool a few boxes...)
1 CPU alone costs more than 1000€ and you only save like a few GB RAM and 1/2 PSU per CPU but Dual-CPU Boards are much more expensive and need ECC-RAM which makes this rather expensive stuff to mess around with - if you have the money, go for it! But you'll have more performance with cheaper consumer hardware. I'd say it's too much just to render pictures on that stuff - maybe for applications that can't be distributed as well as Indigo like VM-Servers this could be more useful.

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Post by ave » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:03 am

Gentleman, following your suggestions (especially Sukrim's) this is the proposal I'd like to discuss with our technician on monday. All your comments are warmly welcomed.
As I wrote, with Xeon X5460 we would get from Dell 4 nodes with 8500 €, more or less (it's around 1.5 k€ each), with 3.16 GHz, 1333 FSB, 12 MB cache 8 GB DDR2 ram.

I tried instead to configure a Dell system on their website using the core i7 920. With 1050€ per node I get:
-core i7 920 2.66 GHz
-6 GB DDR3 Ram
- Cheap ATI graphic card 256 MB ram (I assume it is not necessary to have a good one on the slaves, am I right?)

I know you don't like Dell
:) but they give us 3 years warranty + on site assistance on the next working day and I know for sure that they are ultra reliable. This is really important for a company.

Anyway, even without overcloking the core i7 I would get significantly more GHz for the same price.
What is your opinion?
Since "GHz are not all born equal" do you believe that for some reasons Xeons could be better than i7 for indigo? (Sukrim says no, if I understood correctly)

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Post by BBjam » Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:37 pm

If you could get the slaves with only mobo-integrated graphics that would be better on the power front, plus save you a bit of money.

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Post by Sukrim » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:47 pm

Yeah, you don't need _any_ graphics card, it only costs money and heats unnecessary.

I'm sure there are others that offer similar service as Dell but are a bit cheaper, but that's your choice - of course a good bit of the money goes into that service as well and if you are ot able to fix problems or if it would cost more to render a few days on a renderfarm instead of on-site until the problem is fixed than the support contract, you would be better of with that stuff!

The x5460 is a dual-CPU CPU, right? So you would get 2 X5460's + other stuff for 1,5k€?! One CPU alone costs nearly that much!
As I wrote, I don't see the use for Multi-CPU systems in rendering, unless you need the space or other factors are limiting you - these systems might look more powerful, but are more expensive and rendering is often very good parallelizable so no need to have a CPU-packed board since single CPU's would render as fast. These systems are more oriented at Virtualisation Servers, where it's important to have as much power on one machine as possible and yousave so much more money from virtualizing the clients that you don't really care about the additional costs.

I only find 3 Desktop Systems (mostly configured around gaming incl. Windows license and other useless stuff like video card, keyboard, mouse, optical drive...) that use the Core i7 on Dell's US Shop... could you give me a link to the system for 1050€ with 3 year warranty + onsite support (only option on the system I had was "after remote assistance" which is imho not useful for your critical computation tasks) and 6 GB DDR3-RAM?!

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Post by ave » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:55 am

I am based in Italy... the desktop system I am referring to is called here "Studio XPS". I don't know if the name is the same in US. Anyway, I just took it and customized it a bit (added 3 gb ram, downsized HHD and graphic card).
Now I am wondering if it would be possible to remove the graphic card at all, as you suggest....

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Post by Sukrim » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:19 am

You've got heaps of stuff with that config that you don't need (Microsoft Works?!) and it's way too expensive imho...

For the price of 8 Dell Systems you can buy 12 custom systems, so you can even have 3 systems failing at once and still have better performance than if you buy from Dell! ;-)

If you don't overclock btw. the Core i7 is a bad choice for €/GB and I doubt Dell allows you in that support contract to even look in the BIOS more than 1 minute/year... :roll:

I don't know which mainboards they use at Dell so in the worst case you'll have to add a few dozen €/year just to heat your computer room with graphics cards + optical drives...

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Post by Severi » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:18 pm

Core 2 Quad processors had a price cut yesterday:

For example:

Q9650 - $316
Q9550 - $266

Very appealing if you already have S775 setup. Many (most?) of those can be overclocked to 4GHz or beyond with air cooling. That makes them pretty good alternatives for i7 processors.

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