This is the story of Helmer. A linux cluster in a IKEA Helmer cabinet.
Helmer 2 year!!!!!! and still going!!
Last job just completed a few min ago for a TV-show "Vetenskapsmagasinet" for Swedish TV. Talked about the first fish that got legs and walked up on land.
Helmer is one year old now. Been working fantastic good, and rendered more the a half million frames. Going to rebuild the network from a normal switched to a direct bus. Now network is througha a normal consumer gigabit swithc that handle about 25 MB/s. Now I'll use a Gigabyte EX58-UD5 motherboard for the new Intel i7 cpu as the backbone. I insert 3x2 gigabit network cards so all motherboards in helmer get a separate gigabit cable direct to the board. The new drives are 4x1TB enterprise WD in a raid-0 just for speed. Speed rocks. Safety is for wimps :) This all will in theory increase network bandwith from 25MB/s to 750MB/s!!! Now I can do video/large data processing and not just small hard crunshing stuff.
Here is some pic for the last job I did "Time Capsule"
I post some more here in a few days when I get going on the rebuild.
Yahhh, The TV-show that I'm rendering with Helmer have started airing. Mondays Swedish tv "Odens Rike" SVT1 10:40.
Vert scary, because I have 3 more shows to do!!!
Hehe, You can buy the DVD, already here Kinda funny, because it's not done yet :)
3D computer rendering are very CPU intensive and the best way so speed up slow render problems, are usually to distribute them on to more computers. Render farms are usually very large, expensive and run using ALLOT of energy. I wanted to build something that could be put in my home, not make too much noise and run using very little energy... and be dirt cheep, big problem? :) no computer stuff cost almost nothing these days, it just a matter of finding fun stuff to play with.
I wanted to use Intel Quad core 65 nm or better. I surfed the web and found 6 of then at a good price. Then I looked after the cheapest motherboard that could run these. The result of my investigation was the Gigabyte S-series GA-G33M-DS2R/S2 card.
..and my cat approve.
Next, finding memory. The motherboard could hold up to 8GB of memory each, and I wanted to maximize all I could. Here are the 12x4GB =48GBmemory modules.
Mounting CPU coolers.
Next problem was to find a good computer case that could hold these motherboards. But this was a big problem. 6x cases cost almost as much as the motherboards and CPU's! So here was some room for improvement. I found the IKEA helmer cabinet. Perfect! Who knew IKEA made there stuff ATX compatible. :)
Some extra support for backside of box.
Mounting power supplies and fans in zig zag pattern to maximize airflow.
Motherboard H1, H2 and H3 mounted. Fans on wrong side. I mounted 3 mm plexiglas under the motherboard so it would not short circuit when I installed them.
Big mess on floor.
Disk cloning in progress. I used Fedora 8, and the command "dd" to clone the discs from the bootable System rescue CD disc.
> dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb
Done! I use the software Dr Queue as batch job dispatcher. All connected to a 8 port 3 com gigabit switch. Common storage using nfs to a FreeNAS server running on a Via C7 machine (that just need 20 W power .. another story :) Instead of power switch I used a simple cable to the "pwr" jumper on motherboard. (Wires tejped on right side)
Instructions of how I did the DrQueue setup is here:
The most amazing is that this machine just cost as a better standard PC, but has 24 cores that run each at 2.4 Ghz, a total of 48GB ram, and just need 400W of power!! This means that it hardly gets warm, and make less noise then my desktop pc.
Render jobs that took all night, now gets done in 10-12 min.
..next one will be in red..
If a hardware manufacturer/pr-guy happened to read this. I'm very happy to receive hardware play around with ;)
Some render tests result here:
- Helmer did same 24 frames in 4k format in 64 min.
Some approximate numbers give Helmer a floating point capacity of 186 Gflops
Here is the scale of Helmer (about 2,5 foot high:)