Connecting multiple Mac Pros together? (Something crazy just happened off Craigslist)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by 617media, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. 617media macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2010
    Hey whats up.

    BEFORE I have a quick question that I would REALLY appreciate anyone with specific knowledge of what I can do regarding connecting at least two Mac Pros together (?) here is the brief pretty amazing (at least IMO) Craigslist experience that JUST happened to me!! ..which is what leads to me asking this question!
    Earlier this morning:

    I guess you could say I got surreally lucky and have sort of a unique ability to charm in a professional way to get what I need and want..

    But anyways, long story short - I walked into a high-end architecture /design office and convinced one of the higher up people in charge of the design/3d renders department to let me walk out with FOUR perfect condition 2008 Quad Core Xeon Mac Pro :) for $320 - just the amount of cash I had in my wallet....

    I was extremely grateful, and a little stunned!! Basically, the fact it was a female helped a lot, and impressing her with some of my own subtle things to drop..

    But yeah, if you are wondering "WTF" , again long story short.. but it worked out this way because the fact this firm had literally JUST gotten in their new Apple iMac 5K computers to replace all the Mac Pros (which for their space did understandably take up unnecessary space/defeat some of their aesthetic minimalism thing going on).

    So, in the condition I also take with me four Samsung LED monitors with the Mac Pro workstations... I put the $320 cash on the table, left my card, shook hands, thanked again, and then loaded my whip with the heavy desktops and monitors, and peaced out..

    Sorry!! Almost done claiming/bragging :) but cmon you would be super stoked too! Also considering I am only 26, and really needed this to launch my mini start up officially... as in, I really couldn't afford to buy proper workstations for a few employees/interns to fill the studio/office space I am lucky enough to have. So, this was like **** yeah!! What a kind firm and amazing luck! If that architect/design firm didn't have probably a wait-list of 10+ million dollar personal home property clients, and they really felt like spending the time to really list these Mac Pros + monitors on Craigslist or ebay or whatever... they easily would of brought in an instant $3000 or so... even with them being 2008 Quad Core Xeon relatively outdated..

    **EXTRA bonus awesome surprise!!: I was just happy to get these four Mac Pro 2008s in perfect condition and would have at least some RAM, and some basic minimal HD, and graphics card of whatever sort left in at least 1 or 2 of them to run right away... and check out.

    However?! Bam, they were nice enough to leave me with multiple ATI Radeon HD 5770s and two 5870s graphics cards (Mac Edition of course)... Not the sickest cards ever for high end media as I do, but wow!! No doubt, still powerful cards and very capable and unexpected extra big come upp

    And then for RAM, obviously not the highest end newest 16gb ECC sticks of OWC ram I've had for my Mac Pro station (as in that I've had before today with this ridiculous come-up on these machines) , but nonetheless.... Still DDR3, expensive still.. and 24GB in one machine, 16GB in two others, and then 8 or 4gb i forget in the last.. pretty sick right!!

    Finally, they were nice enough to leave in a GRIP of 1TB Seagate fast enough cache 7200rpm drives.... as in like 10 of them , which I can definitely put to use ASAP.

    So thanks for hearing out my little bragging/excited piece of news I wanted to share with someone who could appreciate such a DOPE come up like this.. can't say I was expecting anything good to happen today haha..

    Here is my question though:

    - As the title of this thread implies, my main question is how can I/is it possible for me to effectively hook up at least two of the Mac Pros together?

    *To be more specific: My first thought was I have an extra pciE slot SATA III 2-port internal expansion card/RAID card 2in1 (specific for MP compatible for sure), and so can I rig up my personal professional high-capacity 3D and RAW digital cinema workstation Mac Pro and connect it directly or something(?) via SATA cable to one of these Mac Pros I just got today??

    - Primary reason and most urgent: I want to use it as an external RAID server basically... since I actually am getting in the RED in regards to low hard drive space.

    - So, I figure there MUST be a way I can with just what I have here, and easily enough connect this 2nd Mac Pro , right next to my own workstation , and use it right away (after configuring obviously) as a RAID of whatever makes the most sense... just considering I filled the 5 internal bays with 5 of the extra free 1TB drives??

    I mean, I know I could start the 2nd Mac Pro in Firewire "T" direct disk mode, and run a firewire 800 cable between them , and sort of use it as just a temporary "external RAID drive" . but SATA transfer capabilities are obviously significantly faster than firewire... and IDK

    Again I apologize for being kind of scattered and all around the place in my head, but I am just excited from this ridiculous thing happening, and just throwing off my day and having still mad **** to get done before its too late... and although I am not new to the concepts of networking and servers in terms of what I could rig up myself.... I've never been in the position of having all these powerful Mac Pro machines at my disposal and just need some advice!!


    If I am being ignorant and dumb about my idea to direct connect via SATA cards/cable as an extra server storage space but with direct SATA transfer speeds (which is definitely possible lol) THEN LAST QUESTION/ADVICE NEEDED THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

    1. I am working mostly with like I said super high-end RAW 14bit uncompressed format video and sometimes up to the 2k/4k resolutions but even without that, this **** is about 150mb/ a second (if you are looking at it as "footage" and not uncompressed RAW files as every frame shot.. just to give some idea...

    SO clearly I need to have my storage solution ASAP without buying anything additional! (such as a 5 bay Drobo or other RAID setup external thang Ill probably grab eventually when I have extra $)


    I need to have a server that runs here locally between the four Mac Pros and my own original workstation Mac Pro machine - 5 all together... and use 1 of the MPs as the "server" so that this space can actually function as a legit little but high-end enough office and server my media needs.

    So, if I am better off just setting up OS X server or something else on a dedicated Mac Pro , and that working for my storage as well as the server in general I need to have running as any business does of collaboration between people/computers does.

    So again, ANY extra insight, advice, or whatever helps me out a lot. And I believe in Karma , so ill hit u back!

    Thanks again!!

    And to mods: my bad about the format of my post again and also if I got off topic a bit , but please leave this , I just need whatever info I can get...


    **ONLY if you know anything regarding 3D Rendering / Render Farms and multiple Mac Pro setups... otherwise Ignore all of below:**

    Because I also need to (soon enough) setup my 5 Mac Pros with my Cinema 4D Team Render Server and client server apps - which is relatively simple enough... but again, I want to be able to do this with clearly the MOST amount of speed/efficiency as possible.

    Which comes down to the server setup I should probably go about between all these MPs ? Meaning, when I need it I should be able to (LAN) render say, one of the 3D client very complex, 4K resolution 2 minute animation intros for example.... and if anyone knows much about 3D software like C4D, and rendering... it can be insanely bitch when you need to render at the pretty much MAXED out settings (within reason..) and at 1080p/2K/4K... Where I have had a single frame take up to like, 25 minutes!!

    But even when its a couple minutes per frame, if a client needs something that is a few thousand frames long (which is super short in running time at 24-30 frames a second obviously..), but yeah, it is just important for blatant reasons to be able to utilize Team Render server between FIVE machines, instead of just 1 Mac Pro.... Meaning, I'll get to use the power of duel GPUs power in each Mac Pro x 5 machines = significantly faster

    So yeah, if there is a specific resource or other part of this site where people know more about this, I'll look over the forum again later when I have time to think more later.

    Thanks for the like third time or whatever!! I mean it! Have a great day! :)
  2. 617media thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2010

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  3. flehman macrumors 6502


    Feb 21, 2015
    That's a great find. I bought my Mac Pro 3,1 back in 2011 when a university was turning over the equipment in its graphics lab. I knew a guy there and got it for $175, which is a steal today let alone in 2011 when the machine wasn't even 3 years old. That included a 21" Apple flat screen display as well. I've loved it ever since.

    Processors are upgradeable to 3.0 or 3.2 GHz. The existing drive bays can be upgraded to SSDs that will do about 260 read/write. PCIE SSD storage is an option for up to 1500 read/write but booting from PCIE can be iffy on this model. Optical drive can be upgraded to Blu-Ray or replaced by additional SSDs using additional SATA connectors on the motherboard. GPU can be easily upgraded to just about any nVidia card that works with dual 6-pin cords, and other cord types can be made to work with some fiddling. Those are just what I can think of right now.
  4. 617media thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2010

    Hey man, I appreciate the response!!

    However, I think because of my fault in terms of the layout of my scattered post, that you kind of missed what I am actually asking about!

    If you have a second to look back over this and see that what I am just asking really is not about upgrading and optimizing the systems - I am familiar with all that.

    But about how I can most effectively use 1 of the Mac Pros as a dedicated mass-storage setup, and without buying a normal relatively expensive professional grade ethernet (gigabit?) hub where I can connect my five, or however many machines I want , and run 1 dedicated one as a server.... which I may not know that much about or am using the wrong term with "hub" but whatever...

    I mean, just interested about the idea of literally having two Mac Pros sitting next to each other under my workstation desk setup, and having the second one (as in one of the ones i just scored today) able to almost function like a "secondary "brother" connected Mac Pro" in terms of at least just letting me use its drives/RAID capability for storage, and yet run the SAME speeds basically I would as if I was reading/writing to drives that were inside Mac Pro #1 (the mac pro I already had, that i will be doing my work on in terms of running apps and everything)??

    And to conclude once again... the only thing I could think of for this, since they are 2 separate tower cases obviously, and 2 separate machines... was connecting them via SATA ?

    Thats really the main thing.

    Im trying to NOT spend anymore money right now for a little bit haha.


    (And obviously the ultimate situation would be if there was a plausible way to actually connect two Mac Pros - like "siamese twins" - working as 1 entity in terms of processing CPU, GPU processing, RAM, etc. for running OS X/apps as normal/as if you were just using 1 computer)

    ^not my question, but that would be super intriguing if anyone had ever managed or had knowledge too about if that has ever been attempted. Of course if it was.. it would take a lot more effort than the simple question I am asking about storage.
  5. avkdm macrumors regular

    Feb 14, 2012
  6. austinpike macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2008
    First, step away from the Red Bull... :p

    Not sure what professional grade equipment you would need... You can get a gigabit switch for $20. Any off-the-shelf router these days has gigabit ports. FW800 may be just as good on machines of that vintage for drive sharing, but you'll need the gigabit anyway for network rendering.

    As far as connecting them via SATA, I'm gonna say no.

    Frankly, if you are trying that hard to conserve cash, I'd parlay some of that pile of hardware into something more useful. How many employees/interns do you really plan to provide workstations for? If you are only using the machines for dumb render slaves, the video cards do you no good, you could sell off a couple of those. Or post up one of the boxes on CL and buy some 4TB drives for your main workstation, or a dedicated NAS. You can replace a 2008 quad-core box for $300 if you get to the point where you actually need one for a fifth employee.
  7. Tutor, Mar 11, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015

    Tutor macrumors 65816


    Jun 25, 2009
    Home of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
    If you have/want a 5 MP3,1 Cinema 4d (C4d) render farm for the least amount of jack, and you already have C4d, but you want a really fast farm,

    1) Update the OS in each one of the five systems to Mac OS 10.9.4, using Tiamo’s hack ( );
    2) Next sell all of the ATI Radeon graphics cards for the most that you can get for each one;
    3) Then buy (from Ebay or from Craig’s List, e.g.) and install up to 2 used Nvidia GTX 780 (preferably 6G)s*/ for each of those 5 machines (you’ll have to use an additional PCIe power sources for each one certainly if you want to install more than one of the more powerful GTX GPUs (i.e, it has a lot of fast CUDA cores) in a system, unless you know or learn how to hack the MP's PSU to power those GPUs or find someone knowledgeable enough to do it for you);
    4) Download and install the latest version of Nvidia’s drivers for that OS version and version 6.5 of CUDA on each machine and connect the machines using 1000BASE-T Ethernet (RJ-45) and a switch box supporting same;
    5) Save your money and buy 5 seats of either Octane Render Combo {GPU only renderer} [ ] or one seat of Thea Render + 3 Node licenses (2 nodes come with the C4D bundle) {GPU only mode, CPU only mode or GPU and CPU render mode combined - all for the same price} **/ [ ] and learn to use whichever one(s) you purchase.
    6) Then, you may be able to divide the current 25 min. per frame render time (given the same project) by about 25 or a more, depending on however many and which Nvidia CUDA GPU’s you have installed in each system. {Short Math Course: 25 min/25 = 1 min.; but you might get that 1 min. render times on each of the 5 systems if you install two really fast used GTXs such as used GTX 780 TI ACX SC OCs, meaning the output might likely be close to 5 rendered frames per minute when using the team of 5}.

    I'd recommend sticking with used GTX 7xx GPUs if you chose Octane because those GPUs perform better there. If you were to go the Thea Render C4d route or even the nascent FurryBall C4d route [ ], then you're probably safe with going with Nvidia's Maxwell GPUs such as the GTX 970 (really a 3.5G card) or a GTX 980 (a 4G card). The Maxwell GPUs (GTX 9xxs) have significantly better OpenCL and OpenGL performance than the GTX 7xxs.

    **/ Octane Render’s C4d plugin is the more advanced of these three GPU renderers and, currently, has better support for more of C4d's many features, given, in part, that it's the oldest of the three renderers to support C4d (FurryBall is the last of those three to support C4d). Octane costs a lot more money, given how Otoy prices its products. FurryBall standalone costs more than Octane standalone, but of these three renderers Furryball more often has special occasion two for one sales. Thea Render’s total cost is a whole lot less, but it's C4d plugin is still in beta, as is FurryBall's.
  8. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Dec 20, 2013
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    You are probably best served by selling all of those machines as fast as you can to get some money to buy something actually useful. Those quad core 3,1s are dogs, old 3 legged dogs.

    if you need lots of fast storage, you either need an external RAID (not a Drobo, never a Drobo, something that connects over Fibre or SAS) but that will cost thousands. I would just bulk up what is in your main machine (what is your main machine, I thought I saw a mention of a 5,1 but just, so many words). Put a 4TB WD Black in each sled (4 of them) and stripe those in disk utility. Fast and big work storage. put your OS and applications on an SSD (or two) in the DVD bays. make sure your files are also backed up else where as the big fast stripe is unprotected from failure.

    You can connect different machines together only over ethernet (go gigabit). You can make any Mac a file server for up to 10 machines by simply turning on file sharing. for more, you need OS X server.

    If you are rendering through Cinema 4D, make sure you have the best CPUs your current machine can handle. If you are using a third party GPU renderer, install a card that best serves the needs of that particular software, watch that you can actually power it. I use a Quadro K4200 as Cuda only card and then a Quadro 4000 or 5770 as the display GPU in a Resolve system.

    If you want to set up a render farm, those quad core 3,1s are a waste of effort and electricity. Start with a quad core i7 Mac Mini (used) and grow it from there. get real machines when you can spend real money.
  9. haralds macrumors 6502a


    Jan 3, 2014
    Silicon Valley, CA
    For the price, they are not dogs. I also found that they are not significantly faster than the 2007 systems, but can run Mavericks and Yosemite without futzing around.

    Mid 2010 is faster, for sure. But in real use, the difference is not that noticeable. Other factors like SSDs or Fusion drives have much more impact.

    I have all three types.
  10. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Dec 20, 2013
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    SSD will have no impact on 3D/CG rendering. Which was the question posed.
  11. 617media thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2010
    hey thanks for all the advice, I was quite out of it when i posted this!

    But yes, you guys are right and it put me in check. Thank you! :)
  12. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    I'm confused but do you mean DDR3 or FB-DIMM DDR2?

    The Mac Pro 3,1 (2008) doesn't take DDR3, only FB-DIMM DDR2. The Mac Pro4,1 (2009) takes DDR3.

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