GreggC

Hardware Recommendations

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I would greatly appreciate hereing recommendations for hardware.  Currently we are running 4 Dell Precisions with XEON processors 32 GB of ram and Nvidia Quatro processors.  We do a lot of renderings and raytraces, so the desktops are overspec'd.  Now I am wondering if it's overkill.  Chief is vague about system specifications.  What do other users recommend?

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In my experience, using Quatros was a waste of money. Seems like a fast gaming system is a way to go if you're doing a lot of renderings. Keep in mind that raytracing uses your processor, while most of the other rendering styles rely on your video card. Take a look at my signature, which is a new system. No complaints. 

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Chief needs a fast gaming card by Nvidia

 

Quatro cards are for working with Autocad and other Cad based programs

 

Chief uses DirectX

 

Lew

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Adam:

 

fastest Nvidia card you can afford

 

with the most ram you can afford

 

Lew

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In respect to CA, Quadro cards do not really provide any benefit but cost a lot more than an equivalent gaming video card. It's essentially the same when considering a consumer grade CPU versus Xeon CPU's, you will pay a premium for the Xeon with little or no appreciable performance gain. Keep in mind that Xeon processors are really just heavy duty consumer CPU's, they are designed to run flat out 24/7. With CA your CPU under most circumstances only runs maxed out for a few seconds, the exception is when Ray Tracing when your CPU may run maxed out for 20 minutes or more.

 

What's most important is for any given budget to configure your system to achieve the proper performance balance according to the software you use. For example, if you do not Ray Trace or use other heavily threaded software then there is no benefit going core crazy, 4 or 6 hyperthreaded cores will do just fine, you will obtain greater performance by getting the highest frequency CPU versus more cores.

 

The same goes for you video card, it needs to be matched with your CPU. Video cards do not work in isolation, they work as a team with the CPU, each has a role in the processing of graphics. The CPU must be capable of keeping up with the GPU and vice versa, otherwise one will be waiting for the other.

 

Also, all those technical comparison reports must be taken with a good dose of caution. A reported 20% advantage seems significant but in reality it is unlikely you will notice any difference. You must also make sure that when a performance gain is stated that the area of performance is related to your specific software, if not then it is really meaningless.

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This is just an example to demonstrate my point.

 

I have GPUZ up to monitor my video card and task manager running to monitor my CPU usage. I open up a PBR camera, this is a fairly complex scene so it takes at least a 60 seconds to generate. During this my CPU runs on average about 35% usage for about 50 seconds, during this time my GPU is only running at 1%. This tells me that for almost 90% of the rendering time my GPU is just sitting idle waiting for my CPU. Also, as my CPU is only showing about 35% usage it is telling me that many of the operations the CPU has to do are single threaded or only lightly hyperthreaded, so even though I have 8 logical cores they are not being fully utilized. Based on this, in order to improve my PBR times I don't really need a faster graphics card, I need a faster processor, I also do not need more cores as it is evident that the software is not written to take advantage of this. This now leaves me with only one choice, to find a processor that has a higher single thread performance than my 6700K, unfortunately when it comes to single thread performance my 6700K is right up there with the best available processors. So at this point in time there are no viable upgrade options if my objective is to reduce my PBR generation time.

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Graham, do you have something to monitor your ram usage?  You may be able to boost your pbr performance there.  I recall one of the big render guys on here mentioning he has 32gb but wants to bump up to 64gb.

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12 minutes ago, parkwest said:

Graham, do you have something to monitor your ram usage?  You may be able to boost your pbr performance there.  I recall one of the big render guys on here mentioning he has 32gb but wants to bump up to 64gb.

Yes I monitor ram usage and my current 16gb of system ram and 8GB of video ram is more than sufficient. A complex PBR scene consumes about 2GB of video ram so my video card can accommodate about 3 active scenes before swapping with system ram. If it does swap with the system ram this is rarely noticeable, it only becomes a problem if the system ram gets used up and it starts to swap to the disk. Was doing this in the past when I only had 8GB of system ram, I upgraded to 16GB and this does not happen anymore. No point in having a bunch of unused ram, that will have no effect on PBR performance.

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