[Beowulf] Newbie Question: Racks versus boxes and good rack solutions for commodity hardware

arjuna brahmaforces at gmail.com
Sun Dec 14 21:07:53 PST 2008

Hi Vincent:

I am a believer in beginners mind.  Some of the things that i am doing like
indian classical music, classical drawing, python programming are all things
i got inspired to do and dived right into. And the inspiration is usually
right on and after several years of doing it, one achieve a masterful level.
This does entail a lot of passion, inspiration and the courage to go ahead
and do it.

I have been bitten by the animation bug, and this has something to do with
the fact that i am currently deeply immersed in a several year training in
the classical drawing for classical realist painters. Animators study
drawing, but probably not in this depth. There is a huge synergy as you
would know between drawing and animation which requires good visual mental
faculties that are developed by drawing.

So having become inspired by the animation, i have been researching it
avidly. As an artist I am interested not in making short fun clips but
eventually entire movies. I realize this is a large undertaking, but thats
what i do...So is vocal indian classical music, kung fu and classical

In researching Pixar which makes these kind of movies, i found they use
farms of machines for rendering. Therefore the idea was planted in my brain,
and being a good computer programmer I decided to ride the learning
curve(and i know how to ride these wild horses given the amount of learning
required in the classical arts and the time and patience it takes) and make
me a beowulf which is the cheapest fastest machine.

Made from commodity components it would be cheaper than high end machines
(hence the relevance to this list in case you are wondering) it would
eventually give me the power (having ridden the curve over time, not
tomorow) to do the type of rendering that the big boys are doing.
If Pixar is using render farms then i assume that is a good well thought out
way to go for eventually creating full length animated movies. Also i am
interested in special effects.

The whole logic of the beowulf is to use cheap commodity machines to make
super computers(to put is a bit simplistically) So why would one use an
expensive stand alone machine with eventually limited capacity? If it were
possible to make full length, cutting edge animated movies using stand alone
machines then the boys who actually make them would be using them for their
productions right?

Hello Arjuna,
> I'm a bit interested you mention this. When i negotiate about animations,
> which sometimes already were edits from major movies,
> the hardware used is nothing more than a simple PC to produce it. Animation
> Designers work for small amounts of money,
> so paying for a lot of hardware, more than some fast PC or fast macintosh,
> with 2 very good big TFT's (apple offers some fantastic
> dual set of TFT's - though quite expensive for a design studio maybe).
> It sure takes a couple of minutes to render animations in high resolutions,
> yet i'm quite amazed you need more hardware for this,
> yes even a cluster.
> Isn't some 16 core Shanghai box with a lot of RAM already total overpower
> for this?
> Can you explain where you need all that cpu power for?
> Best Regards,
> Vincent
>  Also any thoughts on racks versus piles of PCS.
>> A lot of the posts on the internet are old and out of date. I am wondering
>> what the upto date trends are in racking commodity computers to create
>> beowulf clusters. What should i be reading?
>> --
>> Best regards,
>> arjuna
>> http://www.brahmaforces.com
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Best regards,
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