All You Wanted to Know About Render Farms

By: Benicio Brown

Not very different from the general concept that comes to mind on hearing the word 'farm', a render farm is also a space designed for a cluster or grouping; but not of animals - computers! The advent of the internet technology has ushered in a whole new understanding of communication, use of the wireless and connectivity. The scope of use of the technology lies in the segments that operate at root level within every function that the science is used for. The correct understanding of the concept of a render farm is just as basic as understanding that without a computing machine and a broadband connection you cannot enjoy unlimited and instant access to any place in the world 24x7 or without a domain name registration you cannot effectively enjoy a web presence online!

A render farm is a dedicated computer cluster. It is a cluster of computing machines that enables access of visuals to and from the registered machines within the cluster. The computer cluster is designed to render or generate CGI or Computer Generated Imagery. This is basically and typically designed to generate imagery for film and television specific visuals. The render farm dimension is tapped mostly in off-line batch processing and is different in function from a render wall. The latter is a titled display that is networked and used for rendering real time, while a render farm handles imagery.

The activity output from a render farm is parallel in nature and the images within each frame can actually be calculated independently. They are not connected in any way with the others within a processing. The processors involved in the main communication possible via a render farm are maneuvered and handled with the help of the upload of the initial source material. The initial source material include models and textures and even the downloads of the completed images. The processes involved in render farming have resulted in ultra fine imagery. The dedicated advances in computing power and the versatility of the various faculties involved have resulted in any image taking lesser time to render than the initial attempts within the industry.

The increased use and strides in computer technology has not only increased computation, but also used to meet the demands for refined image quality. In the case of simple images, the desired image is not only generated more rapidly and in a more realistic end result, but is also more complicated. The higher-resolution images are produced now in a more time efficient manner. With the reasonable amounts of time saved, the actual time spent producing images is greatly limited. The limiting factors include dedicated production timelines and set deadlines and the drive and desire to design work of quality, showcasing finesse. This desire for creating high-quality work is what influences the need for increased computing power. The need to generate the same images faster is now a thing of the past!

The render farms act as resources in the endeavor to generate quality imagery online. The functionality is managed with the help of what is called the 'queue' manager. The large farms effectively employ the queue manager tool to automatically distribute the processes to and within the integrated processors in the render farm cluster. Each of the integrated processes contributes to the rendering of one full image or a few images or an exclusive sub-section of an image that is also referred to as a tile or segment. The render farm technology is contained within a software package that is targeted within the industry in the form of a client-server dedicated package. The package is designed to facilitate effective communication between the various processors and the queue manager. However, it is not unusual for some queues to not have a dedicated central manager.

The queue managers functional within the render farms are responsible for features such as dedicated re-prioritization of the queue in question and effective management of the issued software licenses. The queue managers also account for the algorithms put in place to optimize the throughput that is based on the type of hardware operational in the farm.

Render farming is a fast growing job title not only as a career, but also as a grosser. The operations required to optimize a render farm are taken care of by dedicated systems engineers also called render wranglers. They are trained professionals who deal with the maintenance and monitoring of a render farm and further the whole "farm" theme approach. The render wrangler title can be seen in the film credits of quite a few block buster and box office hits.

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