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Climate change renderfarm considerations

November 30, 2015

Compute power is an important aspect of architectural visualisation. Increasingly complex projects, ever shrinking timelines, together with our lust for ever higher quality results mean that we need the latest and best computers that are both reliable and fast.  As COP21 begins in Paris, energy use is again brought to the front of our minds.

 

At Blink Image, we have our own in-house renderfarm. A renderfarm is, in essence, a network of computers that each artist can submit (or ‘farm-out’) render jobs to. What this means is that instead of tying up an artists machine whilst a render completes (this could take anything up to 24 hours on a single high-end machine), the render is distributed between all the computers in the renderfarm allowing the same render to finish in less than an hour.

 

 

Of course, having all these super-fast computer systems comes with significant issues surrounding power management: we don’t want a room full of computers that are switched on 24/7 when they aren’t being fully utilised. Although the modern CPUs that we use – like multi-core XEONs and i7s – together with efficient SSD hard drives can save a reasonable amount of energy, an idle computer can still use a significant amount of power.

 

To help combat this, Blink Image employ a suite of software that continuously monitors the state of all the computers on our network. It constantly measures the state of each CPU core and shuts down the machines that are below certain thresholds thus saving a huge amount of power automatically. When a new render job is sent to the farm, the machines detect this wake-up from there sleeping state before getting to work on their number-crunching. Once complete, the machines can snooze again until their services are called on again.

 

As Blink Image continues to grow and demands on our services are pushed further and further, power usage remains on the top of our company agenda.

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