Dream Mac System link (render farm)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by JesterJJZ, May 28, 2011.

  1. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020

    JesterJJZ

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2004
    #1
    So I'm pretty sure stuff currently doesn't work like this, but I've always dreamed of a system where I could basically get two Mac Pros, link them together that now I have one system with double the power. I know I can use qmaster and do network rendering and stuff, but it's not the same.

    Would be great if you could mix and match systems at will and they would scale up automatically, like plug and play power upgrades. You have one Mac Pro now, when you need a beefier system you just buy anotherone and plug them together using something like a Thunderbolt cable, the main MacPro would just see the other MacPro in "Target Processor Mode" and be all set. Even a room full of Mini's working together would be pretty sweet!

    Alternatively then Apple could make vegetative Mac Pros that are only used for this purpose. Kinda like the server nodes they had.

    I know this can be done in some clustering way using Infiniband or something, but I think you need special software that will work with a setup like that. I would love a plug and play system. Basically not just a render farm or cluster, but a way to make your own super computer.

    Also, I spent some time at ILM and learned that all the desktop systems in the building are used for extra rendering power when not in use. Kinda neat. So when the receptionist, or even the CEO goes home for the day, their computers get tapped into for rendering. Their server room is one of the coolest places I've been. No joke, there are like automated droids that vacuum and sweep the floors, like Star Wars edition Roombas LOL.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Boon Docks USA
    #2
    That photo gives me a woody. Awesome. I had 3 octo's a few months back crunching for WCG. Would be awesome to just connect another system to become one. Your lucky to just see a place like this.
     
  3. JesterJJZ thread starter macrumors 68020

    JesterJJZ

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2004
    #3
  4. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    #4
    Thunderbolt is a PCI-e interconnect, not a processor interconnect (like Quickpath/QPI). It will never support "Target Processor Mode".

    Even if it did, somehow, what you're talking about reaches all the way down into the machine's firmware and operating system. Mac OS X does not support hot-swappable CPUs, and probably never will. So unplugging a "node" from the cluster would be very bad (instant kernel panic- though it'd probably be closer to a hardware crash-and-reboot situation).

    IMHO; what you're talking about would be very silly to implement in any professional fashion. Render farms run over ethernet because you can take down a box and nothing really cares- of course the dispatcher is going to need to detect the AWOL box and make sure some other node renders those frames (eventually), but ultimately the system simply chugs onward.

    If you have 64 Mac Pros chained together using some sort of processor interconnect, then if a single machine dies for -any- reason- the entire cluster goes boom. Instantly. This is not a forgiving setup like a network-based render farm would be and I'd hate to see what happens when a week long render job goes down hard because of a loose power cable on one of the nodes.

    Plus... Most 3D packages (the real ones, anyways) support network rendering OOTB. Why make things more complex then they need to be?

    -SC
     
  5. JesterJJZ thread starter macrumors 68020

    JesterJJZ

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2004
    #5
    This is why I titled it a "dream" system. I don't know how something like this would work. I just like the concept of Getting 2 Mac Pros, linking them together somehow, and ending up with a computer twice as powerful. Would be great if something like that was possible and simple.

    A render farm alone doesn't help speedup editing and compositing.
     
  6. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Boon Docks USA
    #6
    Just looked at the link. About the same price as a Mac pro. Cheaper to build your own.
     
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #7
    The closest thing to what you want (as an extremely fast means of attaching the systems together), is InfiniBand. Unfortunately, it's by no means cheap.

    Other high speed networking interconnects such as Fibre Channel or 10G Ethernet can be used as well. Neither of these is inexpensive either.

    Had Light Peak come to fruition as initially promised (cheap 10Gb/s optical interconnect), all that would have been needed, was to add networking capabilities to it, and voilà - cheap high speed networking interconnect. It would have allowed much smaller organizations the ability to implement clusters (costs of the networking gear is what usually puts this out of bounds for many). Unfortunately, this didn't happen, and if it ever does, will be longer in surfacing. :(
     

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