How much RAM is “enough”?

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous,opinions,technical | Monday, June 27th, 2011

RAM usage

I’m actually scared by the fact that even 24GB of RAM isn’t enough for a high-end workstation these days. And I’m talking about projects up to a maximum of full HD resolution! I don’t even consider 2K or, hell, 4K projects at the moment as I primarily work on TV commercials etc…

This is very interesting as I remember every time I upgraded the amount of RAM of my workstation, I was very pleased with the performance and the amounts of available memory every time I worked on something. But then, not long after, I started to reach the limits of the system’s resources.

The thing is, when you reach the cap of your CPU, or GPU for that matter, your renders just take a bit longer to finish. But as soon as you reach the RAM limit, your apps start crashing and the entire system becomes unstable! So, it is a bit of a problem.

I started reaching the limits not long ago when I had tons of apps open at the same time. Especially Nuke, Max, VMWare Workstation and Photoshop. But on recent projects I started reaching the cap with Nuke and Photoshop alone! It’s terrifying as it suggests that no matter how much RAM I put in the system, it will never be enough!

So, it seems that my next workstation upgrade will, indeed, be a RAM boost. Not sure I’ll be able to buy the full 96GB of ECC RAM at once, but, I’m certain I’ll get there very soon.

studio’s IT infrastructure failure

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous,technical | Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Unfortunately, on tuesday, this week, the primary file server acting also as a domain controller at the studio, failed. The issue was caused by an error on the primary RAID array where the OS was installed. This lead to a complete loss of the OS and the entire studio setup.

I don’t know what caused the problem, but when I returned to the studio, all my machines were restarted, running, but restarted. The Internet Router I used for external access was also down. I had to manually start up some services and buy a new router. Then, when Windows Update popped up on the file server and I hit “Install Updates”, since I figured when it was all down anyways, I may as well update the system. That was the biggest mistake! The server crashed into a BSOD and I had to restart it manually which resulted in the failed RAID array and the complete loss of the OS.

The other issue was with the MD1000 DAS with all the company and projects data on. Since I configured it as a software RAID I lost the complete array with the OS. The data is still on the drives, but I can’t access them, since the OS is down.

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Sandybridge in a RACK

loocas | hardware,opinions | Monday, January 17th, 2011

Sandybridge under full load

I must say, I am very pleased with the new Sandybridge i7-2600 in my render farm. It’s super powerful, it consumes less power and is a lot cooler in the tiny 1U rack configuration!

It’s been under a 100% load (3ds Max rendering) for over two hours and the CPU temperature hasn’t even reached 70°C! Now that is impressive, considering the i7-860s I have in the rack are a bit slower, consume more power, but mainly, in their tiny 1U configs, easily reach 90°C-95°C under full load after a few minutes.

This has been a huge improvement and I can confirm all the rumors and speculations on the forums that Sandybridge really is a great CPU for your general processing tasks. As if it was specifically designed for low-cost render farms. :D

Sandybridge benchmark

loocas | hardware,opinions,technical | Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Sandybridge

When I read the news about the new generation of CPUs from Intel, Sandybridge, I was trhilled! And when these bad boys were finally available at the local hardware stores, I immediately bought one. :)

I gave my new Core i7 2600 a quick spin and after initial OS install immediately tested its performance using Frybench.

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My first AMD turned into my last AMD, ever!

loocas | hardware,opinions | Sunday, January 9th, 2011

My first AMD

If you’ve read my last post about my first ever AMD machine I bought just to test out the fantastic power consumption and mainly heat dissipation attributes, I burnt myself, almost litterarly, with it.

I might have had just a bad luck, but the cpu, AMD Phenom II X6 1055T, is a fucking fusion reactor! Man, I was planning on putting that thing in a 1U rack case config with a special 1U Dynatron cooler, but as it turned out, it’s impossible! The CUP’s TJ Max is about 70°C, yet under no load, in BIOS, the temperature climbed to 45°C with the standard, included, cooler. As soon as I mounted the 1U Dynatron cooler on that thing and checked the BIOS readings, the CPU slowly climbed to about 65°C and kept on rising! That’s when I turned the machine of, just to not catch fire, or whatever!

I am so dissappointed in this CPU and AMD in general that I will never, ever, buy another AMD CPU in my life. You can call it irrational or spontaneous, but believe me, I’ve been building my computers since I was 13 or 12 and I’ve always stuck with Intels (even at their worse times), yet I’ve never been so dissappointed by their CPUs.

I’ll reclaim the CPU and see if it was just a bad unit. If not, I’ll sell the stove to someone with a huge-ass cooler for a few bucks and be done with it.

My first AMD

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous,technical | Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

My first AMD

It feels kinda strange as I’ve toyed with PCs ever since I was about 7 years old (on grandpa’s 286) and since my 13th or 14th birthday, I’ve had dozens of PCs (also one Macintosh, which I’d rather forget about). All Intel. Not a single AMD. Don’t know why, I just didn’t feel the need for a change. Same goes for the GPUs. I’ve always been with nVidia (or 3dfx, if you remember, before nVidia bought them), not a single ATI. :)

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Goodies!

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous | Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Oh, I love this! I always feel like a child when new toys arrive! :D

This time, I ordered a high-end workstation, dual Xeon E5620, 24GB or RAM, 2GB GeForce etc… some UPSs, a SuperMicro SuperServer 1U blade, which I intend to use for license distribution, database administration and generally to offload some “administrative” tasks from the main file server at the studio. It’s a single Xeon, 6GB of RAM and about 200GB of HDD space.

I also decided to finally give SSDs a test drive. However, I’m not really impressed by the regular, SATA, SSD performance/price ratio so I decided to see if those PCIe drives perform any better. And they should, based on the specs. This one is one of the slowest (540MB/s, 450MB/s read, write respectively) and cheapest, but I only intend to use it as a test drive for speed comparisons. It’s only 50GB, OCZ RevoDrive SSD, so, if it doesn’t perform as I expect, I won’t regret the purchase. But if it does, I’ll be ordering a 512GB Z-Drive R2 P82, also from OCZ, as my primary work drive. That one should be almost two times as fast as the RevoDrive here, but it also comes at a steep 10 times higher price tag. So, that’s why I’m testing on the cheapest (which still cost about $350 USD) drive. If I buy the larger one, I’ll use this one for the OS instead. Hopefully the 50GB will be enough for the system to comfortably run on…

Oh, I also invested in some more software licenses as you can see. ;)

Well, I’ll report on the system’s performance and setup when I have the time. Gotta finish what’s on the table right now. Stay tuned!

Server failure

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous,technical | Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

I had to deal with two, moderately serious, server issues at the studio.

The first one was rather strange as I was adding another render node to the loop and I wanted to check whether everything is fine with the machine, so I physically logged in to the server as an Administrator and checked the Remote Desktop connection to the newly added render node. All was fine so I logged off and that’s when the entire operating system got stuck. I only saw the “Logging Off” message for hours without change. I couldn’t log back in, I couldn’t log in remotely, I couldn’t restart the machine. So I had to hard-reset the server, which I wasn’t really happy about as I was afraid the RAID drives might have failed or anything else could have gone wrong. Luckily, nothing serious happened, I only had to manually jump-start some of the services I need to run for my studio infrastructure, but that was it.

Now the second one was a joke. Since the Windows Update offered me about gazillion updates I decided to update the server since I didn’t have any jobs in the queue at the time. However, as soon as the updates reached about 98% the server stopped responding. My entire local network was inaccessible from the outside and I was, basically, out of luck (remotly). So the next day I went to check on the status of the server and all I saw was a very unpleasant BSOD. Not even remotely as nice or appealing as the one you can see above this post.

So, generally speaking, I have no idea what went wrong and how to prevent it, aside from avoiding to locally log-in to the OS or performing a Windows Update. :)

Another render slave ready for the load!

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous,technical | Friday, October 1st, 2010

Render Slave 04

Sure enough, the studio is slowly growing, both in its technical background as well as with the projects that are coming in. So, we need more horse-power!

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Celebrating 115 days of duber server’s uptime!

loocas | hardware,miscellaneous | Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

That’s right! Althought I missed the 100 days anniversary, I am still very happy to see that my server has gone through over 115 days of labor without a single hiccup, error or restart. :)

So, hopefully, at the very least another 115 days will come by without any issues what so ever.

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