Temporary rack installation

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,technical | Sunday, October 4th, 2009

I’ve finally hunted out a Rack cabinet for the storage, server and render slaves installation and since I won’t be moving any sooner than three-four months to a new place, I’ve temporarily installed the rack over the weekend (it really took this long!) in my storeroom.

After putting all the pieces together (and realizing I’d put them together incorrectly, so after another disassembly/assembly) I installed the PowerVault system and upgraded its SAS card as it only provided an aging SCSI interface.

Me upgrading the PowerVault server

Me upgrading the PowerVault server

Once upgraded and properly connected, I then installed the brand new Dell MD1000 DAS and plugged it in properly. Then I upgraded the system with some additional 500GB drives for increased capacity (total of 15x500GB = 7TB in a RAID-5 configuration).



Finally, the whole system ready for the software installation and setup to host additional render slaves (which will come later this month).


Rack Close-up

Right now I only have a 16 port Gbps Switch, the larger ones were quite expensive and since I won’t be buying more than 10-12 slaves in the near future, it should be enough. I’m also waiting for a UPS from APC to be delivered early next week for the PowerVault and PowerEdge systems (I wouldn’t dare run such expensive machines without a UPS!). The plan is, after we move to a much bigger place, to completelly fill the 47U beast with 1U render slaves, each containing 2 standard ATX PCs with 8GB of RAM (should be enough, hopefully), so, in the end, this cabinet should house 1 PowerVault (3U), 1 PowerEdge (5U), some additional stuff (approx. 4U) + possibly one tray for the console (8-10U) leaving space for 25 1U cases each with 2 computers, which equals to 52 QuadCore (208 cores) machines totalling 416GB of RAM. That should be enough for the upcoming projects ;)


  1. hey..sounds good so far what you are getting :)

    How are you going to cool down that room later? I have two quads right now and it heats up the room pretty much already.
    8GB ram per machine is not really a lot. at least if you want to render some HD effects stuff. maybe with the new GPU technologies coming up it will be enough. But right now 4GB sticks are really cheap…I would check that out. I guess after christmas the prices will drop down again.

    Comment by Goran — October 7, 2009 @ 21:15

  2. Yeah, 8GB is nothing, but it’ll be easy to upgrade when needed, but I’m changing my mind about the render nodes and I might come up with something different with 24GB of RAM for each node. We’ll see how it goes.

    As for cooling, I’ll have a portable air condition machine plugged in next to the rack and I’m planning on buying a dedicated air-conditioning unit for the rack (they make these and they’re friggin expensive), when I’ll need it. But for a few nodes this won’t be necessary, or at least I think/hope :D

    Btw: 4GB sticks are fucking expensive here, man! :(

    Comment by loocas — October 7, 2009 @ 21:50

  3. what is expensive?? I just bught for of them for 500.-$ (Kingston Fully Buffered)

    I just had an idea for cooling. Air conditioning is quite expensive and bad for the environment. What if there is a water tank (self made of course) all around the room, with pipes going to and between the racks and back to the tanks. :D
    I know, it sounds crazy…but imagine it! if you manage to keep the water temperature down, you could populate the tank with fish and sea plants. which would give you a unique renderfarm room and everybody in the world would talk about it and your name would be known for all the producers giving you nice jobs.
    and you would save power on the other side. even greenpeace would love ou :D:D

    Comment by Goran — October 8, 2009 @ 14:26

  4. Yeah, the 4GB sticks cost about the same as you say. But still, 24GB will be enough for each machine.

    As for water cooling, I hear Framestore or perhaps MPC has their renderfarm being cooled by the Thames! :D How cool is that?! :)

    Water cooling is nice and all, but very impractical. I used to have a watercooled rig, but I swapped it for a bunch of quiet fans anyways. It’s really hard to manage and you still have to keep refilling the tank.

    Besides, I can’t imagine having the entire rack plugged to a water tank?! More so with fish in it! :D

    Comment by loocas — October 8, 2009 @ 14:54

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