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Old February 4, 2010, 06:39 PM
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Default Basic Network - 4 machines

Greetings,

I don't know much about computers, but know enough to build one myself as I've done so twice in the last 3 years. A friend and I have recently started (paperwork at least) a small rendering studio for Architectural renderings - both of us having years of experience.

We're putting together a small render farm, which will consist of four computers. Most of the work will be done on our workstation, which will also be our file server.

1 X Workstation: i7 920 with ATI 5770 Crossfire, 12GB RAM
3 X Rendering machines: i7 860 or similar

I've specked out the machines, and have gotten 3 prices in the area. This being said, I don't know anything about networks and how to proceed in terms of software.

1. For example, do we need to purchase 4 Windows 7 licenses? We are only working on the Workstation, but certain software needs to be installed on the rendering nodes - which means we need an OS.
2. What is the simplest and most efficient way to "Network" the machines? Wireless? Cable? In either case, do we need a network card? The 4 machines will sit in a room with 3 dedicated fans.
3. Does it make sense to make the workstation our file server or would it be better to be one of the rendering machines?

As you can see, I don't know much about Networks. Any basic information would really help. We'll be setting up on a Windows 7 64bit as that's what runs 3dsMax and AutoCAD the best from our experience at work (XP was great as well...but Vista was trouble).

Ultimately, when we hit RENDER for the final image, we want to use the 4 processors to compute the image - we do this at work using Backburner, software that comes with Autodesk 3dsMax. It's the networking part I don't know much about.

Cheers,

J
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Old February 4, 2010, 07:06 PM
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1. Yes, each computer will need a Windows license if you want to run Windows OS. Windows licensing is based on an "instance" running and executing code not someone sitting in front of it. There used to be free Linux based render options and I expect they still exist in one form or another.
2. The simplest way to network the machines would be to buy a 'router' (residential gateway) and plug them all in to that with network cables. If they are Windows boxes they will be able to find each other pretty readily so long as something is doing DHCP. A cheap switch, some CAT5 cables, and statically assigned IPs would also work and if you can configure a render farm I am sure you can figure out how to do that with a search or two. Just about every mainboard sold these days comes with a network card so you should get one "for free". I would not go with wireless; you would have to spend more for wireless cards (most mainboards do not come with wireless ones) plus you have security issues. If you absolutely can't run wire then you could do it this way but there is little up side.
3. It would be best to have two machines as 'file servers' so you have backups. I would suggest having enough space on your workstation to store everything (for convenience) and enough space in one of the render machines to back it all up.
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Old February 4, 2010, 07:13 PM
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Jack,

Thanks! I figured as much in terms of having to buy 4 seats of Windows - Unfotunately Autodesk products don't run on Linux, but I could spend hours venting here...

I'm reading about Hubs vs Switches, and I think I'm leaning towards a switch. The price difference is negligible in the grand scheme of things. I also agree that a wired network is the way to go.

I will also assign one of the Render machines as a backup file server, although couldn't I just add a HD to my Workstation?

Here's where I REALLY get confused - Do I need 4 screens to run the machines or can they all be accessed from my workstation via remote access? For example, I set up the workstation. All software is running. Then comes time to connect to computer no2. Now this second computer will have Windows and 3dsMax set up, but I need to go on that machine to tell it to act as a SERVER for the rendering software on my workstation to detect it. Can I access that machine from my workstation?

Also...about internet. Since only the workstation is being used to work, it's really the only one that needs internet. Do I simply connect to the internet as usual from this machine?

Anyways, lots more reading to do, and thanks for the help.

J
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Old February 4, 2010, 07:31 PM
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Ok,

It seems that a switch is the way to go. This being said, I do have some questions.

1. I'll be using the ASUS PT6 motherboard (1366). Does it come ethernet "ready"?
2. Is it as simple as connecting up to 4 machines to the switch and assigning one, the workstation, as the main server?
3. If I connect to the internet from my workstation, does that go through the switch or just simply wireless as I'm using my laptop right now?
4. How easy is it to set up remote access on windows 7? I'll want to "manage" the 3 rendering machines from my workstation. This could be a simple task such as signaling it as a SERVER for the rendering, or accessing files if one serves as a backup. We only want one display running from the workstation.

As you can see, I am truly a newbie when it comes to networks...

J
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Old February 4, 2010, 07:47 PM
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this product shopRBC.com :: Belkin SOHO 4-Port USB Switch KVM will alow you to use one monitor and keybpoard fore 4 computers. Check into its compatabilty with windows 7. Windows7 poles witch is to say that the computer is looking fore the monitor constaly. this device should work.
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Old February 4, 2010, 07:55 PM
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I have not remembrance to have a see a motherboard without an Ethernet connection lately , for the network , just buy a modem / router with enough wired port on it and wireless connection too , so you can plug your laptop wireless if you want. I will suggest you to get member of an Autocad forum too. I'm studying autocad now . and they are good source.
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Old February 4, 2010, 07:57 PM
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well that's a good point...

We each have laptops that we might once in a while want to connect to the network. Can I get a switch that also has wireless?

Why a router vs a switch?

J
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Old February 4, 2010, 08:01 PM
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that kind of router is basically a smart switch. it will give out IP addresses, act as a firewall, and it will allow wireless which alot if regular switches will not.
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Old February 4, 2010, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HalifaxJ View Post
well that's a good point...

We each have laptops that we might once in a while want to connect to the network. Can I get a switch that also has wireless?

Why a router vs a switch?

J
the switch is integrate in what they call the router many of them came with the modem integrate too, printer server etc. .. it's more an internet and network sharing device than a real router
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Old February 4, 2010, 08:05 PM
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thanks...

But I'm getting a bit confused. If I'm understanding correctly, all four computers would be connected to this router/switch with an Ethernet cable. This will however allow for me to connect my laptop via wireless to the said network.

In the end, what I need is 4 computers, liked by Ethernet. One workstation, 3 others just to "compute". Only access the internet from the workstation, which can be done with my USB wireless Dlink anyways.

If I chose a router instead of a switch, is it simply to have the ability to add my laptop to the network?

Also, from all I read, I should be assigning static IP addresses to the machines within the LAN range (198...). Will the router mess that up?

I want the simplest network possible...but there seems to be too many options at the moment. Every tutorial I read seems to confuse it all by the end, instead of sticking to ONE type of network. And all of them seem to mention buying a NIC card.

J
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