[Sidefx-houdini-list] render farms, pipelines and file systems

Chip Collier photex at gmail.com
Thu Jan 8 02:26:17 EST 2009

There is a free implementation of GFS via CentOS I think; as well as
Hadoop. So that may help you out a bit. As far as performance goes,
it's like anything else.. depends on the setup and machines

And while I haven't implemented this myself, Mercurial or GIT could be
an interesting alternative to the more traditional rsync, ftp, etc..
for staging your data if you have a relatively non-volatile cache
space on each node. It's not less complicated, but could possibly save
some time and bandwidth.

What scheduler are you using? Condor has an extension for
automatically handling data transfers. Could save you some time, but I
seem to recall it was a non-trivial task to setup. However,
http://www.cyclecomputing.com specialize in Condor and develop CloudFS
for Hadoop that is cross-platform.

At the end of the day even with a fast shared centralized NFS share
you will easily blow away it's ability to serve all the data you'll
need. It's all about finding the balance for whatever jobs your
throwing at it.

On Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 7:28 PM, Drew Whitehouse
<Drew.Whitehouse at anu.edu.au> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm interested in hearing about experiences people have had
> implementing render farms where you *don't* have a shared file system
> between workstations and render farms. I currently have a solution
> than involves shipping resources back and forth. However, it requires
> parsing IFD files and heuristically determining what resources are
> needed for a render and what results needed to be transported back
> post render. I'd like to make this more robust and I'm sure that this
> is something that large facilities have to solve sooner or later. And
> the same problems must crop up whatever software is used (prman,
> MentalRay etc). Following is a bunch of questions that come to mind,
> some houdini specific, others more general.
> Do you generate IFD's out on the farm or on artists workstations, and
> if so how are resources synced across to where they are needed ?
> Is it the case that you purchase expensive global file systems and
> maintain a single shared file space ? If so, are they robust and
> performant ?
> Obviously their are significant performance issues to consider. Eg you
> are working with Gb's of texture per frame which you don't want to
> ship across to a render node every time a frame is rendered. There are
> many possible solutions to this problem but I'd love to hear about
> experiences in the trenches ...
> At what point do you find that single NFS servers grind to halt ? Is
> scalability and locality a solved problem or something you're always
> having to tweak ?
> Are you restricted to certain workstation architectures ?
> Does your solution restrict you to a certain applications ?
> Any feedback appreciated,
> Drew
> --
> Drew Whitehouse
> ANU Supercomputer Facility Vizlab
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