[Beowulf] 3d rendering cluster

Paul K Egell-Johnsen paul.k.egell.johnsen at gmail.com
Wed May 25 07:04:36 PDT 2005

> Or Cedega, which is basically Wine on steroids for gamers.  See
> www.transgaming.com.  Or Win4Lin.  However these two (and vmware) cost
> money -- quite a bit for vmware, less for win4lin, anything from none to
> about the same for cedega (which is open source but requests that you
> pay a subscription fee to help support its continued development).

Thanks for all of these, I was only aware on Wine, and of course VMWare.

> Whether you need something beyond wine/cedega depends pretty strongly on
> the software itself.  If it is a simple windows app, no fancy libraries
> or forked windows applications (such as explorer) it is actually quite
> likely that it will run, although a sound application MIGHT not have the
> right device support if it does too much stuff raw and you have odd
> sound cards.

And with the sound cards one need to have audiodistribution to the
DAW. A cheap Windows XP lisence cobbled with something called FX
Teleport will enable 32bit 192KHz 8 channel audio from each audio
renderer to the DAW over ethernet. The win lisence and that software
is much cheaper than, and more practical, getting the sound
distributed by dedicated audio wires.

> Either way you have your work cut out for you.  A windows application
> per node will be single threaded almost by definition, and will (of
> course) use WINDOWS to run requiring a local graphics adapter and KVM.
> So you'll have to equip the entire cluster with a KVM switch and do a
> lot of very tedious switching between screens unless they've written the
> application for a COMMAND LINE or so that it can be parallelized in some
> way, both almost infinitely unlikely.

I'd run VNC if neccessary, but the audio soft can be remote controlled
from the DAW transparently. Don't need to see the OS after installing

> One thing I'd strongly recommend is that you look into the linux world
> for an alternative.  What, exactly, are you trying to do with sound?
> There are whole sound toolboxes for linux (see e.g. sox) that can read
> in a sound file in nearly any format and convert it to nearly any other
> format.  There are tools that permit you to hand-edit the actual
> waveforms.  See here for a somewhat dated list of what's available:
>   http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=1511

There are lots of good Linux audio soft, but I'm not going edit any
samples or sound or try to parallellize that. Instead I'm trying to
get enough simultaneous playback channels in order to create a
convincing symphonic orchestra for scoring the animations we're doing.

One hope, though, is that those libraries are shipped with something
called Kompakt, a  player. It is both standalone and VST plug ins, and
I learned of a specialized distro which will allow VST plug ins  to be
used under Linux. Now that sounds interesting, if I can get the audio
streams sent to the DAW without adding extra wires.

I think I'll loose some functionality, the ability to remote control
the playback from the DAW, but I'd be saving at least 50% on OS cost
for this (half the Windows price) + the full price of the windows

> Although these are often GUI tools as well, they run on top of X11 and
> can run on a node and display on a remote console transparently.  If you
> are into editing waveforms, at least one of them will likely provide you
> what you need (and if not, as open source projects, you can work to GET
> what you need into the tools with an immediate and obvious payback).  If
> you are simply dealing with format conversion and/or waveform
> transformation, sox is very likely your best friend.  It is a COMMAND
> LINE tool and hence entirely suitable for being wrapped up into a script
> and run across a cluster via e.g. SGE.

I think that there is lots of room to get out of the Linux for audio,
there are interesting synths and audiotools

The good news is that I'm slowly convincing my future patners that we
should run Linux and go for open source software where we can and
where it is feasible. Even convinced my long time NT admin guy that a
properly cofigured Samba/OpenExchange set up will be much cheaper and
provide the same basic services we need for the workstations.

I'm not convinced that we can drop windows on the workstations yet,
except where we can run Mac OS X of course, the other graphics artists
are very much invested in 3ds max, which is only Windows - fortunately
the mental ray renderer is properly multi platform, unless I can find
a convincing open source alternative. I'd think those often are just
as advanced as the commercial ones, most of what is new in rendering
are presented at siggraph and simular open forums and the papers are
often available as well.

Thank you for your comments Robert.

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