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jimishere

New Workstation Multi-GPU Question

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  • Hi everyone! I'm brand new to the forum - nice to meet you all.

     

    I am building a workstation and need advice on the graphics card(s). This is a unique situation because I am looking to build the highest possible performance workstation and cost is not a factor. It will be used for 3D design/rendering as well as mograph and compositing with After Effects. I have done extensive research and have most of the other components selected (board, ram, cpu, drives, etc) but I'm having trouble getting consistent information on the best possible graphics card configuration.

     

    I have four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots available, so that gives me 4 GPU cards to play with. I was planning to go with NVIDIA for the CUDA technology. Here are some questions:

     

    Is a Maximus configuration (Quadro+Tesla) the best of the best? Or should I save money and just put 4 Quadro TITAN Zs in there? The TITAN appears to have more CUDA cores per card as well.

     

    If Maximus IS the way to go, is it better to have 1 Quadro and 3 Teslas or 3 Quadros and 1 Tesla? Or 2/2? Why?

     

    Am I thinking about this the right way, or is there some other, better technology to occupy these 4 PCI slots?

     

    Thanks!!

     

     

     

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    Do you already use a software that makes massive use of CUDA? If yes, how good are you at using it?

    If the answer to the first is "no" or the answer to the second is "not very" than just don't bother spending any money at this point. GPU technology is moving fast. As soon as you have come to grips with the software and are on a usage level that you can really take advantage of all the power you paid for, the cards and GPUs will be outdated.

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  • Thanks for the reply srek, nice to hear from you. That's definitely sound advice for any beginner.

     

    I am attempting to create 3D motion graphics and composite 3D animations into live action film sequences. My problem is two-fold. In C4D the render times are taking so long, I have to wait hours to see the results of my work, even for relatively short sequences. In After Effects, the ram previews are so slow to render, again it eats up lots of time waiting to see what I created. I am relatively new to this stuff, but I think that if I was working with a faster system it would speed up my learning process since I'm waiting less and working more. Right now I'm on a fully loaded Macbook Pro. Obviously moving to a workstation with more ram, cpus, etc will help, but since cost is no object I want to design the theoretically best possible configuration.

     

    Both After Effects and C4D make use of CUDA. With After Effects, it greatly speeds up the composition fast previews as well as the ray traced 3d rendering engine. Here is a white paper from NVIDIA that describes some of the enhancements: http://www.nvidia.com/content/adobe/pdf/adobe-hardware-performance-white-paper.pdf and a page on NVIDIA's site: http://www.nvidia.com/object/adobe-after-effects-cc.html As for C4D, I'm sure you are the expert, but according to my research there are a number of plugins such as iray http://www.m4d.info/index.php?id=15336 that leverage multi-GPU rendering to speed up workflows.

     

    Make no mistake about it, I am certainly a beginner, and most of my research is marketing material cranked out by NVIDIA. But I'm pretty desperate to speed up my workflow and multi-GPU technology looks like it will really help me out. If you think my assumptions are incorrect, please elaborate! I would hate to waste the money :)

     

    If I am on the right track, any opinions out there on a multi GPU GTX Titan SLI configuration vs. the Quadro/Tesla configuration for my C4D/After Effects compositing needs? Any personal experiences out there with either?

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    In that case don't bother paying for the big guns. Get something that you can utilize to learn the tools. It will take you a while to come to terms with render engines like Mental Ray or others. We are not talking about days but months here. Once you have determined that you can actually use them and that they fulfill all your needs you can and should ramp up the tech the degree necessary. Right now you would just blow the money. Not much deprecates faster than graphics hardware.

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    Guest darby

    Neither after effects nor C4D make use of CUDA natively (unless you consider the raytraced renderer in AE that has largely been supplanted by C4D).

    There are certain plugins that can make use of CUDA but if you're building a machine for general AE and C4D work then the GPU should be the last major component you consider. The order of importance (in my opinion) goes:

    1) The CPUs

    2) The RAM

    3) The hard drives

    4) The GPU

    5) Everything else

    Everything on that list is important but you should prioritize in that order. Don't skimp on the CPU for a ton of GPUs. I'd recommend one GTX 780Ti as a starting point, you can buy a more or less expensive GPU depending on your budget but that's a good price/performance point.

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  • Can you elaborate a bit on your opinion? Will a multi-gpu configuration have zero performance impact on the problems I outlined above? What does it mean to "come to terms" with a render engine? Can't I just press the render button and see the results faster? I'm confused :)

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  • Thanks darby. Here's my configuration:

     

    1. CPU - dual 3Ghz 10 core Xeons

    2. RAM - 128GB

    3. Hard Drives - 8TB Raid 10 SSDs

    4. GPU ??

     

    I could go with processors that have more cores, but the clock speed seems to drop with the more cores you add. I thought this would be a good balance.

     

    I'm surprised to hear that the GPU is not that important. Here's a bunch of NVIDIA interviews with VFX folks who think it's amazing: http://www.nvidia.com/object/maximus-media-entertainment.html

     

    Perhaps what you are saying is that there are certain very specific scenarios where multi-GPU can help, but as a general rule it's mostly marketing hype?

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    Guest darby

    That's pretty much exactly what I'm saying :) GPUs can provide significant speed ups in some cases but the software needs to be written to take advantage of them. Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve and even Photoshop are good examples of the GPU speeding up and improving a workflow. At this point though AE and C4D aren't on that list.

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    Jimishere -

     

    May I point you to this Lots of good information on GPU rendering and graphics cards in general with some valuable insights from those who have experience with both.

     

    I am in the same situation as you...currently looking to build a pretty good workstation but unfortunately not with your budget.  From my own analysis, within the NVidia family of CUDA based cards, the Titan Black seems to be the best value.  There are some pretty strong opinions against the Titan Z given what they are charging.  The fact that your are considering 4 of them just blows my mind.

     

    I am absolutely gob-smacked by the amount of money you are ready to pay for workstation---particularly as a beginner.  Conservatively, I would price your system north of $20,000 USD. I have to ask...did you win the lottery or are you related to the Royal family? 

    If your answer is close to "yes" for either of these questions, is there room in your family to adopt me?  :lol:

    In any case, you are in a very enviable and fortunate position to be able to dedicate so much capital to your new interests (you did say you were a beginner....which I assume to be 3D in general more so than C4D).

     

    In any case, couple of things to consider if your are looking to build a GPU enabled render farm of CUDA processors --- give strong consideration to the plugins you are interested in.  They most likely will not be supported by the GPU renderer you purchase.  Also, C4D does a pretty good job of exporting render passes for processing by AE...your GPU renderer may lack that capability.  Therefore, depending on what type of graphics you want to create, if they require plugins with built in renderers (Turbulence FD, Naive, Krakatoa, etc.) you may not be able to benefit from all those GPU's you plan to purchase as you will need to render them out natively from C4D.  In essence, any VFX work (fluids, smoke, fire, particles) will keep you from using your GPU renderer.  I bring this up because you mentioned that this PC was for motion graphics work and motion graphics do tend to feature some interesting fluid based effects. But, on a positive note, Turbulence FD does use the GPU to calculate the fluid simulation which is then stored as cache.  Once stored, it is usually rendered pretty quickly and with two 10 core 3GHz processors, you should be fine.

     

    But...if you have no interest in any VFX work, or no interest in of these plugins and instead will ONLY render with the GPU via a purchased GPU renderer, then from a C4D perspective ONLY you may want to reconsider the expense of the two 10 core 3 GHz processor in favor of one 6 core 3.5 GHz processor as the faster processor speed helps with viewport performance in C4D more so than the GPU.  Rendering in AE is another matter entirely.

     

    Final question, who is building this machine for you?

     

    Thanks,

    Dave


    Sorry...but I simply do not have enough faith to be an atheist.

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    Ahh, the dream money-no-object machine.

    Don't let that be your guiding factor, since it might lead to a "more expensive = better" approach.

    The CPU might be worth waiting for since we're about to see a bunch of 6-18 core Xeons that you might want to look into.

    My personal approach is to have a really highly Overclocked chip as a workstation CPU, that means it can handle all the single threaded operations (which are very common in all programs if not More common).

    Regarding GPUs, watch out for the marketing BS, maximus is just a way of nvidia to sell more than one GPU, when a lot of the time the user will never need them.

    If you end up going with 4 GPUs, get ready to manage your expectations, it's not going be 4x as fast at the things that can utilise multiple GPUs. As the guys have mentioned, not much utilises the GPS at the moment, I use Octane a lot so it's working out for me on that alone.

    cheers,

    brasc

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  • Dave - Thanks for the helpful reply. That thread is just the kind of discussion I was hoping to read.

     

    It sounds like some other 3D tools can leverage the GPU a bit more easily than C4D. Perhaps I should figure out which software works the best with multi-GPU, rather than what hardware configuration works the best with C4D. I initially got into C4D as a natural extension of working in After Effects, but I'm really looking to push my 3D projects are far as the technology can take them. I am an artist and I want to create experimental video projects that combine cutting edge visual effects animations with dramatic film sequences. I'm enthusiastic about dynamic simulations, fluid effects, animations with tons of particles and moving objects - real compute heavy stuff.

     

    I am extremely lucky to be able to build such a workstation. My background is in software engineering and I've built many machines. I sold my internet company so I have a decent budget to invest into passion projects. Give a computer geek some cash and it won't take long before they go and build a ridiculous supercomputer with it.

     

    As far as the CUDA question, it seems you are right about Titan. While NVIDIA claims that the Maximus configuration is the best of the best, I haven't found any real world arguments that show a compelling difference from a rendering perspective. Titans have more CUDA cores per card and at a cheaper price and that seems to be all that really matters - provided you are leveraging the GPU at all, that is.

     

    Brasco - Agreed on the CPU speed vs. cores. I am going to opt for a faster processor instead and focus on ways to really maximize the GPU rendering. Perhaps I'll start out with a single Titan Z for awhile, then see how it compares with two, before I consider 3 or more.

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