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Home Brewed 24 Core Render Farm!


BlendMaster pointed me to this site of a home brewed render farm made from small IKEA filing cabinet. It has an insane 24 cores, running at 2.4 Ghz each with 48 GB of ram. Pretty ingenious method. It's a Linux system using Dr Queue for render distribution.

"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."

Helmer Cabinet Pictures

I also noticed on Janne's main website that he uses Blender in his work flow.


  1. Replace those with 45nm Quadcores and it will be even faster and produce even less heat.

    That said, with that much money to burn, the cabinet could be a lot cleaner looking if he invested some time to properly route the cables.

  2. I'll drink some of that home brew :), now you too can have a small cluster in your back room. I wonder how this would stack up against a cel or gpu solution. Probably a lot easier to get the code compiled for this though.

  3. The only reason to go for one of these over a GPU solution is that Blender doesn't render with the GPU. :( ..... yet!

    Not counting external solutions like Gellato which don't work 100% (AFAIK).

    Still a pretty awesome setup. I just went and did a quick price out and you could put together a system similar to this for roughly 3K USD. Not bas considering 1) the crappy state of the dollar and 2) that it's about as much as you would pay for a high end gaming rig from Dell or other manufacturer.

    If Blender were able to leverage the GPU as in Fastra you could *theoretically* see a 14x increase in render speed for about the same amount of money (according to my rough estimates off newegg).

  4. I hope I can start making money soon. I am a lazy person, at the same time a very dedicated one. I am really dedicated to animation and I don't feel anything for working in a supermarket. I just want to animate. Animate for money. Animate for fun. Animate all day long.
    Who has the same dream?
    The dream of becoming a 3D animator that is recognized as a 3D animator and appreciated as a 3D animator.

    Respect, fellow animators, respect.

  5. Although this setup is very cool (performance/price) - thanks for this post, I wonder if subscribing to respower is simply cheaper.

    Hope, Helmer II will be posted soon.


  6. Very impressive. If Janne's estimations for HelmerII are somehow correct that would be very interesting. 50Tflops for almost that same price :). Quite a leap if HelmerI is running now with about 0.2 Tflops.

  7. NielsBlender on

    @BlenderLovingSquirrel2: Like I said in the other thread; If Fastra used a duo-core, my quad-core would render twice the speed as the Fastra... however when it comes to realtime openGL, the Fastra will be faster than my 1 Nvidia displaycard, I specific don't mention the Fastra will be 4x the speed, there are more variables to it. ;)
    As seen on the website-pictures, Helmer does use quads and is indeed a 'Renderfarm in a box' and will overrule Fastra 'bigtime'(which means if the Fastra uses 1 quad, Helmer is 48 times that speed->48:1) :)
    These things relate to non-usage of the GPU at rendertime, which Blender does. If I'm not mistaken there is a renderer for Blender available that uses NVidia Gelato, I only vaguely recall it as 'renderman-compatible'-renderer...(Would that be Aqsis? Dunno...)

  8. @rogper, if everyone would think like you, the creator of Helmer couldn't, do his cluster, and you wouldn't reading about it.

  9. Amazing!

    Anicator, truly inspired with stories like your recent one of bringing Blender to the world, its not hard to dream...

    Its funny, I actually fell asleep last night thinking; "I am going to set myself to getting a render farm going...." and here is this awesome Helmer story the next day!

    May the Gods of Hardware bless all Blenderers!

  10. Your into it a little much but ok... It would be great if someone could build a render farm that Blender users could use for free. :)

  11. glad everyone likes this :)

    im saving right now, because im building my own version

    6x the following in a little linux cluster:

    each node will have a quad core running at 2.4 GHZ, 4 gb ram, good motherboard, 80GB hdd, and a really cool electronic heat exchanger ( which can keep a quad core running at 100% around 20 degrees celcius!)

    and there will be 6 nodes.

    complete cost?

    3000 canadian dollars :)

    but yeah, glad everyone likes this

  12. 400 W... nice
    The question I have is, did he measure that after building it, or calculate it before?
    (and how would one go about figuring something like that out?)
    I ask because I saw the new intel atom boards for $70 at newegg, and immediately thought "cheap render farm!"
    probably cheaper (dollar/performance/watt) just to grab the quad cores anyway :(

  13. Wow, that sure looks like a nice thing to have, I actually consider building one for myself. A couple of things I would like ansvered tho. First, how do you connect the nodest? Is it possible to do modelling on the nodes? what happens if i put a graphics card into one of the nodes to make modelling on it easier?

    @BlendMaster is it possible to share which parts you'll get and where you get them?


  14. Gutti: Stig Helmer! :)

    Really nice setup, I always get a little giddy when I see this kinda stuff - I want to make my own. Plenty of stuff I could do with the power - but money is as always an issue :S :)

  15. @anton: isn't the note
    "All connected to a 8 port 3 com gigabit switch. "
    what it's all about? I thought so, but maybe I miss something.

  16. Nice thing!
    400W seems to me too less. With all the components I think its about 800W while rendering.
    It's good enough for about € 3.500 + a workstation??
    For all you have to pay roundabout € 4.500.-.
    I'll get 3 powerful 8core-machines for that!

  17. I wonder if there is a market for this type of hardware (enough of a markup to justify the time that is)?... Do you think anybody who needs this would pay for this? Humm. I wonder.

  18. Can this power be used in all PC tasks (video, sound mixing, image compositing, web apps, desktop apps, games, etc) or mostly Render?

  19. @Neki - Mostly rendering: he mentions using DrQueue for distributing this over multiple machines. The other possibility is to use a Linux installation which supports OpenMosix, but I don't know how much benefit you might see from it.

  20. Had the same idea few months ago,but since a super fast render is being developed this will be great!
    check out the new Ocean script at -- Amazing!!!

  21. A friend and I built another version of a 24-core Linux cluster built into a $29.99 Ikea Helmer cabinet. The total cost is $2550.11. The design and implementation is robust and elegant. On my blog, I show how to build it in pictures, breakdown the component costs, talk about air flow, and discuss idle and full speed temperatures. We think our solution is practical and feasible for other people needing a small cluster for specialty applications.

  22. I think that times when you setup render farm at home gone and never come back because they need time, money and greate patience when new fast proccessor will appear.
    Also i think that better use special service for low costs and that deal pay back very fast do not matter how hours you will need to render.
    More over better use free render services!!!!
    Here is a list of 30 Blender render farm around the world which include not only cloud and some free render farm

    Thank you. Think you understand me

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