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Recommended Systems for NVIDIA Iray

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Case Study - Corridor Digital

"Puget Systems was able to build me a machine specifically tailored to my working needs. They made the process easy and streamlined so that I could remain focused on the creating side instead of stressing about the tools I needed to do the job."

- Wren at Corridor Digital

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Case Study - Johnson Health Tech.

Johnson primarily works with SOLIDWORKS for 3D Production alongside software packages Maya and V-Ray to bring life to their marketing campaigns.

"So far [our Puget Systems workstation] has been a workhorse for rendering and simulation."

- Clayton Krause at Johnson Health Tech

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NVIDIA Iray Workstation FAQ

 

Q: Is Iray a CPU or GPU based rendering engine?

A: Iray is actually able to utilize both the CPU and the GPU but it is far more effective when using the power of a GPU or video card. In fact, our NVIDIA Iray CPU Scaling testing shows that while a CPU with more cores can make a difference when using one or two mid-range GPUs, once you have two or more video cards that are a bit higher performance there is no appreciable change in render times with a more powerful CPU.

Q: Does Iray support multiple GPUs? Do they need to be in SLI?

A: While Iray doesn't scale absolutely perfectly, you will see massive performance gains with multiple GPUs. Compared to using a single card, two GPUs will reduce your render times by about 30%, three GPUs by about 50% (half the render time), and four GPUs by about 60%. However, since Iray is using the cards for compute purposes they do not need to be in SLI mode. In fact, SLI can sometimes cause problems so we recommend leaving it disabled if possible.

For more information on how Iray scales, we recommend reading our NVIDIA Iray GPU Performance Comparison article.

Q: Is it better to spend money on a higher number of total GPUs, or more powerful GPUs?

A: From a pure cost/performance perspective, it is almost always better to use a higher number of more affordable GPUs rather than using one or two more expensive GPUs. However, the downside to this approach is that your workstation will be physically larger, louder, hotter, and use more power than a system with fewer, but more powerful cards. In addition, if your renders require a higher amount of VRAM (video card memory) you may be forced into using more expensive cards.

Q: Can I mix and match different models of video cards?

A: As long as each card is supported, Iray does allow you to mix and match different models of video cards. We do this for some customers who need a primary Quadro video card due to a different software's hardware requirements, but want to utilize GeForce cards to improve rendering performance. However, the more different the cards (different architectures, different versions of CUDA, etc.) the larger the chance of errors or other problems occurring. Also note that if the cards have different amount of VRAM you will be limited to the smallest amount.

Q: Do I have to use NVIDIA cards or can I use AMD?

A: Iray currently utilizes CUDA which is proprietary to NVIDIA video cards. At the moment, it does not support AMD GPUs or Intel integrated graphics.

Q: Will a more powerful CPU help at all?

A: A faster CPU will sometimes let you open files faster and can make a small difference in multi-frame renders, but it will make little impact on how long it takes each individual render to complete. We recommend sticking with a mid-range CPU and focusing your budget on more powerful GPU(s).

Q: Should I use a Quadro card or is GeForce OK?

A: For the majority of the users, GeForce cards are the best option given the incredible performance they can achieve at a relatively low cost. Due to the large difference in cost, you can often finish renders many times faster by sticking with GeForce for the same budget.

However, there are certain times where you may want to use Quadro cards. If you need more VRAM than what is available on the GeForce cards, Quadro cards have up to twice the VRAM which allows for much higher resolution and detailed scenes to be rendered without running out of video memory. They are also slightly more reliable long-term since they are designed to operate under heavy load for extended periods of time. While these two factors are not worth the higher cost for most users, if they are a consideration for you we can certainly install Quadro cards by request. Simply speak to one of our consultants and we will get a custom quote for you!

If you are using Iray Server, another consideration to take into account is that the interative rendering (or streaming) feature is only available if the server is using professional GPUs (Quadro, Tesla, or Grid). If this is a feature you wish to use with Iray Server, you will need to use a NVIDIA professional GPU like the Quadro cards we list on our Quad GPU 1U Server.

Q: How much system RAM do I need?

A: Iray is fairly light on RAM usage, so you do not actually need a huge amount of system RAM. However, we generally recommend a minimum of 32GB for our rendering systems. If you tend to have a large number of different applications open and running at the same time (Maya, Cinema 4D, After Effects, etc.), however, you may consider upgrading to 64GB or more.

Q: How does Network Rendering work? Do I need special licenses?

A: Network Rendering allows you to use the power of GPUs that are in other workstations or servers on your network to make your renders complete faster than you could ever achieve on a single system. All you need is an Iray Server license for each server that is the same version as what you are using on your local workstation. For information on how to setup and configure your network rendering nodes, NVIDIA provides documentation in "\Program Files\NVIDIA Corporation\Iray Server\doc\" after you have installed Iray Server. We also have a copy of the PDF for Iray Server 2.2 available for download.

Note that Iray Server requires some command line options to be set in order to function properly. While it will change depending on your network setup, we found that we had to bind the HTTP server to a specific IP address using "-l" and set the cache manager address using "--cm-address". Be sure to fully read and follow NVIDIA's provided documentation to install, start, and configure Iray Server.

Q: Can I use Linux on a Network Render node even if I use Windows on my main workstation?

A: From the Iray Server product page: "Iray Server is available on Windows and Linux, seamlessly coordinating with Iray client machines regardless of their operating system." In other words: yes, you should be able to mix Windows and Linux without any problems.

 

NVIDIA Iray is integrated into the following software packages:

Daz3D Rendering
SOLIDWORKS Visualize
CATIA Rendering

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