[Beowulf] noob understanding

philip phildlight at verizon.net
Fri May 19 15:59:19 PDT 2006

Thanks guys.  Your answers were exactly what I was looking for.  Micro$oft
would be the obvious and easy solution, but I'm very inclined to push the
linux route just for the satisfaction of knowing that I was one of the
people who took a traditionally windows project and used linux instead.

The other reasoning is as was mentioned, the processing power of linux over
windows seems more suited for this type of work anyway.  I also agree that
the opeteron route would make more sense.

As for max/autodesk, they're not for linux.  I know that much.  I'm more
interested in a method of deconstructing a max file into it's basic form of
being a state of geometry and settings, and then finding a linux engine that
can perform the rendering task, so that I could use something along the
lines of drqueue to simply submit the job to the cluster.

I've been playing with drqueue actually, and it's very promising.  I'm
pretty sure that someone has done this workflow.  Check out these guys:

You can register for free, and when you do, a unix box creates an account
for you (I'm thinking on their own in house network).  Then when you submit
a job, the submit form looks an aweful lot like drqueue or rush maybe.  And
it does support max/vray.  I don't think I can ask them directly if the farm
is using linux on the nodes, and I doubt it's a Beowulf if they are, but
this is where I want to be.

I may call respower and see how far into their brains they'll let me "pick"
to see if the nodes are linux.  What do you guys think?

Again, thanks a million for the replies.  BTW. I'm in Pittsburgh.

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Landman [mailto:landman at scalableinformatics.com] 
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 4:06 PM
To: phildlight at verizon.net
Cc: beowulf at beowulf.org
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] noob understanding

phildlight at verizon.net wrote:
> I've searched many of the posts and I only have a few quick
> questions.
> Please excuse my ignorance.
> 1. Is my understanding that you can process windows processes on a
> linux cluster correct?

No.  You would need to use VMware or similar environment, and that would 
come at a huge performance penalty.  Xen/Wine/etc all cost cycles, and 
if performance is a problem you are trying to address now, you really 
don't want to do this.

> 2. Specifically, I'm interested in using a linux cluster (25 nodes)
>for rendering 

This should work ...

> 3d studio max by splitting single frames accross the

this won't.  3D studio max is a windows only product, and will not work 
with a linux cluster.  You would need to ask Autodesk to port it for 
you, and they aren't likely to do this.

>cluster. Example. We work with enormous output files, usually around
>5400x3600, and they render in about 15 hours on a dual xeon 3.4ghz w/
>2gb ram. Distributed rendering via windows works, but we're interested
>in growing the "farm" to many more nodes, hence the interest in a
>beowulf. Occasionally, we'll do some animations also, so it again would
>be enormously beneficial. I think I understand that this is possible,
>and am interested more specifically in the scripting method to dump the
>job into the cluster from windows.

You can always build a windows cluster.

> Additionally, we use vray (render engine plugin for max) for the
> final
> output.
> Am I correct in thinking that this is possible? Any direction at all
> would be great! Thanks.

It is possible in linux as long as you are using linux based rendering 
software.  Most of the large CGI houses are doing things like this.  I 
don't know many that are running windows.  You might want to check out 
what they do.

If you are forced to use 3D studio max, ask them for a linux version. 
They may say no. In which case you are stuck doing what you have been doing.



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Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423
fax  : +1 734 786 8452 or +1 866 888 3112
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