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Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects

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David Lawrence
Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 24, 2015 at 8:11:35 pm
Last Edited By David Lawrence on Sep 24, 2015 at 8:12:19 pm

Hi All,

I'm starting a cool new project and need some advice on specing a badass PC workstation for After Effects work.

The project involves research, benchmarking and demonstration of the Odyssey VR camera for Google's JUMP VR/Cardboard platform.

https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/jump/
http://gopro.com/odyssey

I'll be working with files from this camera, developing compositing workflows for stereoscopic 360 panoramas.

Our files are 8kx8k over/under panoramic MPEG4 video at a bit rate of 600Mbit/s

I'll be working in some version of After Effects CC.

I've requested a workstation to work with these files and would appreciate your advice on what to ask for.

As much as I'm a Mac loyalist, I realized there's no way I'll get the performance I need with a Mac so sizzlecore PC here we come.

I imagine I'll want as much RAM as I can get since AE loves RAM. I'm not sure what I should be looking for in terms of CPU, GPU and external storage.

I don't need or expect realtime playback, I just need to do simple, multi-layer, masked composites. I need the UI to be responsive when I work and output render times to be reasonable.

The pieces themselves are short camera tests, between 1 and 5 minutes. Future pieces may be longer but for now tests are relatively short.

I have a budget of between $5K and 10K on the table right now. I realize that may be low. I'd like to get an idea of what kind of system I can expect to get in this range and if would work for my purposes. I'm also all ears to what you would spec out for the kind of files we'll be working with and how much we should spend.

Looking forward to your opinions and many thanks for your help!

_______________________
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Dave LaRonde
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 24, 2015 at 9:31:21 pm

Walter Soyka would be a good person to comment on your needs.

He runs high-powered Mac & Win systems and has seen success with AE CC 2015... which is no mean feat considering all the bugs.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 24, 2015 at 10:05:40 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "Walter Soyka would be a good person to comment on your needs. "

Thanks Dave, I agree and seeing that he's a leader on this forum, hopefully he'll chime in. :)

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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 25, 2015 at 10:22:37 am

[David Lawrence] "As much as I'm a Mac loyalist, I realized there's no way I'll get the performance I need with a Mac so sizzlecore PC here we come."

Nice! Come on in, the water's fine!


[David Lawrence] "I imagine I'll want as much RAM as I can get since AE loves RAM. I'm not sure what I should be looking for in terms of CPU, GPU and external storage. I don't need or expect realtime playback, I just need to do simple, multi-layer, masked composites. I need the UI to be responsive when I work and output render times to be reasonable."

The GPU doesn't matter for this use; if you're interested in targeting a computer-based headset in addition to Cardboard, pick your GPU for that.

Given your requirements above, I'd probably prioritize clock speed over core count.

For storage, I'd recommend going solid-state and PCIe-attached, if your requirements allow for the lower capacity versus a spinning-rust RAID. You might consider transcoding those MP4 files to uncompressed image sequences, trading away disk space for lower CPU load.

I love my HP workstations (HP sent me one to test a few years back, and I've bought several since then), but if you want to DIY, check out this advice from Teddy Gage [link] from the AE-List.


[David Lawrence] "I'll be working in some version of After Effects CC."

As Dave hinted, if you install CC 2015, go ahead and install CC 2014, too. Ae CC 2015 is the first release with a revamped internal architecture, so it comes with a mix of advantages and disadvantages. You'll definitely want to render from CC 2014 (multiprocessing!), but unless you run into a bug, working in CC 2015 is nice with has some big interactivity improvements.

I'd be remiss if I let it go without comment that NUKE is making a major push in VR compositing [link].

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 25, 2015 at 2:33:34 pm

And above, I was remiss in not mentioning Mettle Skybox [link] for VR work in After Effects! Check it out, it may be helpful to you.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 26, 2015 at 1:53:07 am

Thanks Walter, appreciate the advice. This is a bit of a new world for me but I look forward to diving in! :)


[Walter Soyka] "The GPU doesn't matter for this use; if you're interested in targeting a computer-based headset in addition to Cardboard, pick your GPU for that."

Not targeting a HMD like Oculus right now, but I would like to send downsized top/bottom output via HDMI to my 1080p 3D monitor to check convergence. Does AE prefer NVIDIA or AMD GPUs?


[Walter Soyka] "For storage, I'd recommend going solid-state and PCIe-attached, if your requirements allow for the lower capacity versus a spinning-rust RAID. You might consider transcoding those MP4 files to uncompressed image sequences, trading away disk space for lower CPU load."

PCIe-attached SSD would be great. I just don't know if we can get enough capacity. I don't yet have any sample files so it's hard for me to benchmark how much storage we'll plow through. My guess is we'll want a lot but since these are short tests, we may be okay with SSD size drives.

Instead of uncompressed image sequences, would transcoding to CineForm make sense? I really like this codec.


[Walter Soyka] "I love my HP workstations (HP sent me one to test a few years back, and I've bought several since then),"

Would love to know what you're using. We likely have different needs, but it would give me a good starting point. Everyone seems to love their HP workstations so I'm happy to go with them. Wish their website was easier to navigate though. Currently thinking a configure-to-order Z840 with a lot of RAM. That's as far as I got.


[Walter Soyka] "As Dave hinted, if you install CC 2015, go ahead and install CC 2014, too. Ae CC 2015 is the first release with a revamped internal architecture, so it comes with a mix of advantages and disadvantages. You'll definitely want to render from CC 2014 (multiprocessing!), but unless you run into a bug, working in CC 2015 is nice with has some big interactivity improvements."

I'm planning to install both and follow your guidelines. It's nice AE saves backwards compatible files.

What version of Windows are you using? 8.1 or 7? (I assume you're not using 10). Any thoughts on what version of Windows is best for production?


[Walter Soyka] "I'd be remiss if I let it go without comment that NUKE is making a major push in VR compositing [link]."

I watched Jon Wadelton's Siggraph demo and like what they're doing. We don't need the alignment and stitch tools since the JUMP assembler will take care of that for us, but the compositing tools are intriguing. Lat Long blur is something I already want. I also noted that he says compositing is an area where they're still figuring out so it may be a while. Guess it's a new world for everyone else too.

Thanks again!

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Dany Targa
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 28, 2015 at 12:57:54 am
Last Edited By Dany Targa on Sep 28, 2015 at 2:22:01 am

If I were you, I would get this for AUD$6,200.

In my opinion this is the both the best you can get, the most reliable parts and the most sensible cost.

CPU - Intel Core i7 5960X Extreme Edition ($1599)
MOBO - ASUS X99-Deluxe/U3.1 Motherboard ($699)
STORAGE - Samsung 850 Pro Series 2TB 2.5in SSD ($1299)
GPU - ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Strix DirectCU II 4GB ($529)
MEMORY - 2 x Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX4M4A2400C14 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 (2 x 32GB = 64GB for $1498)
CPU COOLER - NZXT Kraken X61 280mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler ($199)
CASE - NZXT S340 Mid Tower Case White ($109)
POWER - Corsair AX860i Platinum Power Supply ($325)

I strongly insist on getting the NZXT S340 case - This case really is amazing! I have one and I could not love it more. The best thing is that it's one of the smallest mid-tower cases yet it can fit the huge CPU cooler listed above. I take it with me to work every day.

If you want to really splash out, I would add this as a dedicated After Effects cache drive - Intel 750 Series PCI-Express 1.2TB SSD ($1,499) - it's PCI Express meaning it plugs directly into the Motherboard.

But again, if I were you I would be buying 2 x PCs for under $10K - that way you could copy the finished After Effects composition onto both PCs and set up one PC to render the first half of a composition, and the second one to render the second half of the composition. Halving the time it takes to render.

If you go this option, buy this PC instead for $4,907 - you will barely notice a performance difference between this and the $6,200 PC above:
CPU - Intel Core i7 5930K ($869)
MOBO - ASUS X99-Deluxe/U3.1 Motherboard ($699)
STORAGE - Samsung 850 Pro Series 1TB 2.5in SSD ($679)
GPU - ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Strix DirectCU II 4GB ($529)
MEMORY - 2 x Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX4M4A2400C14 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 (2 x 32GB = 64GB for $1498)
CPU COOLER - NZXT Kraken X61 280mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler ($199)
CASE - NZXT S340 Mid Tower Case White ($109)
POWER - Corsair AX860i Platinum Power Supply ($325)

I highly recommend that you buy all these parts yourself. It's easier than you think and you will learn a lot. The only thing you may not want to do yourself is assembling everything inside the case. If you have never done this before then you may want to pay an I.T guy to do it.

If you don't go with my recommendation, at least get the same, newest technology.
CPU - get an "Intel Socket 2011-3" CPU
RAM - get "DDR4" ram
MOBO - To support the above CPU and RAM, get an "X99" motherboard

The only reason you would not buy this newer tech is if you were buying a gaming PC.

If you want to see what else is out there, use this website to find parts and build your own PC.
https://au.pcpartpicker.com/ - you can easily find parts to reach $10K if you really want to spend the money. Just organise parts by price and choose the most expensive, which are usually the best parts. This website also lets you know if all the parts are compatible with each other.

I highly recommend the newest technology if your PCs main purpose is After Effects.

This is my current AUD$3,000 PC that I purchased specifically for After Effects a few months ago. Apart from having 32GB instead of ideally 64GB RAM, this is the cheapest option for a dedicated After Effects PC and handles everything fine.

MOBO - ASRock X99X Killer Motherboard ($379)
RAM - G.Skill Ripjaws 4 F4-2400C15Q-32GRR 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 Red ($499)
STORAGE - Samsung 850 Pro Series 512GB 2.5in SSD ($365)
CPU - Intel Core i7 5930K ($869)
CPU COOLER - NZXT Kraken X61 280mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler ($199)
PSU - Silverstone Strider Gold 850W ST85F-GS ($189)
GPU - EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Superclocked ACX 2.0 4GB ($519)
CASE - NZXT S340 Mid Tower Case Black ($109)

On a side note, if you were buying a $3,000 gaming PC you would be looking at the older "Intel Socket 1150" CPUs, MOBO and DDR3 RAM as this currently has the best cost/performance value. Typically with a gaming PC you are looking to save money on every part except the GPU because you want the best GPU you can afford. The best GPU the "GeForce GTX TITAN X" for $1,799. But again, you only need a semi-decent GPU for After Effects or any Adobe software.


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Richard Li
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:15:48 am

Hi Dany

Just one question: all hi end machine you recommended is Haswell cpu with x99 chipset mobo, is there something wrong with new Skylake cpu and z170 mobo?

Cheers

Richard


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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 5, 2015 at 1:28:08 am
Last Edited By Ian Mapleson on Nov 5, 2015 at 1:37:52 am

NB: high-end to me is multi-socket XEON (with really high-end being an SGI UV 3000 stuffed with a thousand CPUs, 64TB RAM and a dozen Quadros), whereas X99 is only a single-socket, but I know what you mean...

Z170/SkyLake: far fewer cores, less max RAM, way less PCIe lanes and hence less upgrade potential for multiple GPUs, RAID cards, etc., and SkyLake can't even run a mere two GPUs in full x16/x16, whereas X99 (or X79 for those on a budget) can. For the kind of pro task being discussed here, a 5960X would demollish a 6700K. The cost difference really isn't relevant given the payback of faster workflow & time-to-insight, and of course if budget permits then it makes a lot of sense to go for a dual-socket XEON setup if that's a good match to the target applications (some are not a good fit for this, eg. ProE).

I'd be more forgiving of the mid-range chipset and CPUs if Intel had bothered to expand the no. of PCIe lanes to more like 32 (or more precisely, HSIO), but it's been stuck at a low amount for a long while. Likewise, the top-end hasn't moved beyond 40 (should be twice that by now). SkyLake has upped it a little compared to the pitiful 16 present in Z97, but it's still nowhere near as flexible as the full 40 lanes available with X99 and a relevant CPU (the 5820K irritates me, its restricted 28 lanes mean in some cases a 4-core 4820K would be faster).

Really, even considering the middling chipset & CPUs for this sort of task is most unwise. In order to have a degree of tolerable performance, one would have to completely max out a Z170, and even then it's still not that good. It would mean using a system which from the start has no room to grow. One could say well ok though, surely it's an option for those on a budget; that's true, but for anyone in such a position, that's where I'd leap in and say forget Z170, just get a used X79 setup for less cost and much more performance potential (there are some compromises involved of course, but they are of a nature which means their impact doesn't matter anyway, eg. no M.2, but if one can afford a good M.2 SSD without quibble then more than likely one has the budget to buy X99 anyway).

Putting together a system should include thought of future expansion. Restricted & limited mid-range chipsets don't have that. SkyLake does have decent single-core IPC performance, but that's not where the bottleneck lies for this sort of work, certainly not as multi-core support and GPU compute grows ever stronger in usage.

And note btw how Z170 has changed from earlier mid-range solutions. Back in the days of P55 and then P67/Z68, it was common for mbd vendors to include PLX or NF200 switches on more costly boards to enable support for x16/x16 SLI/CF, or even beyond that, eg. x8/x16/x16 on the ASUS M4E, or a most impressive x8/x8/x8/x8 on the ASUS P7P55 WS Supercomputer (I hold a number of 3DMark P55 records using one of these fitted with an i7 870 and three GTX 980s). I have Asrock and EVGA Z68 samples which work the same way. The same was true of Z77 and Z87, eg. x8/x16/x8/x8 on the ASUS M6E. But after Z87 things began to change, fewer vendors made use of PLX or similar chips, presumably to aim at lower price points, but it means GPUs cannot operate at x16/x16, and with two cards installed there's little room for exploiting PCIe RAIDs or suchlike. Z170 is the same, there are very few with PLX chips (any at all infact?), so PCIe potential is much more limited compared to earlier mbds. The change in HSIO provision does mean mbd vendors can dedicate more lanes to the GPU setup if they want, but it doesn't really help that much, there's still not enough for x16/x16 + storage options.

Given the same more limited budget, a used X79 setup that does not have these restrictions, but still allows one to exploit a decent CPU (from 3930K to 4960X), is a way better idea (it's why I like the ASUS P9X79 WS so much). If budget permits though then X99 is far more sensible, and then beyond that a multi-socket XEON, the ceiling through one must break to afford such a thing being the scary cost of the CPUs. In this industry though, the upfront cost of the hardware often pales in comparison to sw licenses, and the return on investment should quickly make up for the higher cost of a better system anyway. More complex projects can be undertaken, normal workloads get done faster (happier clients), less power is used to achieve the same result which saves money, etc.

Think of using Z170 for this type of work as being a bit like running a CPU at way too high an overclock with too much voltage. It may work ok for a while, but it's much more likely to fail, less efficient, etc. It's the tech equivalent of trying to navigate an Autobahn in a Reliant Robin, ie. one must max out the poor beast to breaking point merely to survive. :D

Ian.

--------
SGI Guru


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Richard Li
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 5, 2015 at 2:01:05 am

OMG, thanks so much for your detailed explanation. It could save me a whole day doing research for a Motherboard that has 2x 16x mode if I read it beforehand. I always think the later chip is better, but it's not always true.

Now I just need to search x99 mobo and cpu for Price/performance.

Good on you!

Richard


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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:07:01 pm
Last Edited By Ian Mapleson on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:13:49 pm

Most welcome! Personally I'd recommend the ASUS X99-E WS and either a 5930K or 5960X. See:

https://www.asus.com/uk/Commercial-Servers-Workstations/X99E_WS/

And note that this board can run the main slots at x16/x16/x16/x16, or all 7 slots at x16/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8, made possible by the use of two PLX chips which are clearly visible in this pic where the chipset heatsink has been removed:

http://www.hardwareluxx.de/media/jphoto/artikel-galerien/asus-x99-e-ws/img-...

The above pic is from a site that has a very good summary of this board, including excellent explanations of how the various possible slot arrangements can be exploited, and a diagram showing the PLX connections:

http://www.hardwareluxx.com/index.php/reviews/hardware/motherboards/33768-r...

Ian.

--------
SGI Guru


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Richard Li
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 6, 2015 at 3:26:42 am

wow, the specification is really good, the only concerns in my mind are the physical layout may be short space because GPU cards occupy two slots and lack of USB3.1 connectors, this board looks like Micro ATX board from the picture. Does Gigabyte have something similar? My last Asus mobo died after one week of use.

Thanks, Ian

Richard


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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 6, 2015 at 3:44:54 am

Richard Li writes:
> wow, the specification is really good, the only concerns in my mind are the physical
> layout may be short space because GPU cards occupy two slots ...

Not really an issue if one is careful; I don't think Quadros are ever wider than 2 slots, and for gamer cards just choose models which have external exhausts (most reference models are like this). If you do use normal gamer cards with all sorts of open-type coolers, where heat is dumped inside the case, then indeed one must take care with cooling. However, it definitely doesn't matter if one is only using two GPUs because they would be positioned with a 2-slot gap between them.


> ... and lack of USB3.1 connectors, ...

Is anyone even making anything for 3.1 yet?


> ... this board looks like Micro ATX board from the picture. ..

Heavens no, it uses the CEB form factor (12" x 10.5", ie. 30.5 x 26.7cm), right at the other end of the scale. :D


> ... Does Gigabyte have something similar? ...

No.


> ... My last Asus mobo died after one week of use.

I've used a lot of this type of ASUS board, they are very good.

I suppose it's worth pointing out though that if you don't intend to ever use more than 2 GPUs, then it's worth looking at the lesser models like the Deluxe or Pro, but I'd just get the WS in order to have the max possible future GPU expansion.

Ian.

--------
SGI Guru


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Richard Li
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 6, 2015 at 5:11:48 am

Fair enough, I can't afford Quadra cards, intend to use GTX970/980 cards, do you know some not-too-dear game cards with external exhausts you mentioned above?

Richard


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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 6, 2015 at 10:53:11 am
Last Edited By Ian Mapleson on Nov 6, 2015 at 10:59:54 am

Richard Li writes:
> Fair enough, I can't afford Quadra cards, ...

That's what the used market is for. :D

Yesterday I won a Quadro K5000 for 205 UKP. That's quite a lot less than the cost of a new 970, or even most used 970s atm. A few hours later, a Quadro 6000 went for about 260 UKP (I didn't bid, having won the K5000). And for raw CUDA oomph on a very limited budget, it's hard to beat multiple 580 3GB cards.


> intend to use GTX970/980 cards, ...

Note these can be slower than the 780 Ti or Titan/Black, and remember the significant differences gamer cards impose for reliability, image quality, etc. Choose carefully. See:

http://www.migenius.com/products/nvidia-iray/iray-benchmarks-2014-5

What will your main application(s) be though? It does seem like a gamer card can be a potent choice for Premiere, and the 980 does use a lot less power, has HDMI 2.0, etc. See:

https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Product-Qualification-NVIDIA-GTX...

Personally if I was going to opt for the newer models, I'd try to get a 980 Ti instead.

NB: don't get a 970 if you plan on working with material beyond 2K. Although there is no evidence that the split RAM bus speed design of the 970 has any significant impact on gaming, there is some anecdotal evidence that working with 4K on a 970 (such that RAM usage exceeds 3.5GB) can have issues. Thus, get a 980 at a minimum for working with high-res.


> ... do you know some not-too-dear game cards with external exhausts you mentioned above?

Most reference cards are designed like this, so just look for the ones that don't have aftermarket coolers, eg. item 262107587881. Less of an issue though if you're not going to use more thsan two GPUs, eg. I'd be content to use two EVGA GTX 980 Ti ACX 2.0 cards with a gap between, just needs sensible air flow management.

Ian.

--------
SGI Guru


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Richard Li
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 6, 2015 at 11:09:57 am

My main apps are Premiere and AE. I plan to upgrade my sys after new year.

Thanks

Richard


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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 6, 2015 at 11:13:21 am

In that case I'd suggest a 980 minimum, 980 Ti if possible.

Ian.

--------
SGI Guru


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Richard Li
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 7, 2015 at 7:49:25 am

Try my best.

Cheers
Richard


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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 28, 2015 at 12:23:07 pm

[David Lawrence] "Does AE prefer NVIDIA or AMD GPUs?"

The only place this matters to Ae itself is the (soon-to-be-obsolete [link]) 3D ray-tracing renderer; here, Ae needs an NVIDIA card with CUDA for GPU acceleration.

That said, I generally prefer NVIDIA on content workstations.


[David Lawrence] "Instead of uncompressed image sequences, would transcoding to CineForm make sense? I really like this codec. "

I really like CineForm, too. Decode should be lighter than H.264.

(Sidebar: I'm looking forward to trying Cinegy's DANIEL2 [link].)


[David Lawrence] "Everyone seems to love their HP workstations so I'm happy to go with them. Wish their website was easier to navigate though. Currently thinking a configure-to-order Z840 with a lot of RAM. That's as far as I got."

Yes, the website is horrible. I know you mentioned $5-10k, but considered that might be low. How much can you really spend?


[David Lawrence] "What version of Windows are you using? 8.1 or 7? (I assume you're not using 10). Any thoughts on what version of Windows is best for production?"

My workstations are still on Windows 7, but I'm planning to update to 10 soon. I have 8.1 on a laptop and 10 on my Surface; everything seems to be running well.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 28, 2015 at 5:21:20 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I really like CineForm, too. Decode should be lighter than H.264.

(Sidebar: I'm looking forward to trying Cinegy's DANIEL2 [link].)"


Wow, DANIEL2 looks INSANE! I could use that yesterday.


[Walter Soyka] "Yes, the website is horrible. I know you mentioned $5-10k, but considered that might be low. How much can you really spend?"

I'll know later this week. Google may have in-house resources we can use - either a loaner workstation or specific preferred vendors. Or they may tell us to buy what we need. Right now I want to make sure whatever we ask for is right for the job.


[Walter Soyka] "Given your requirements above, I'd probably prioritize clock speed over core count."

Both you and Dany mention fast CPU as being one of the most important factors for good AE performance. Any thoughts on Intel's Quad-core Devil's Canyon 4GHz i7 (vs Xeon)? The Haswell-E CPUs seem to have the fastest clock speed on the market for a reasonable price.

Does AE take advantage of dual CPUs?

_______________________
David Lawrence
art~media~design~research
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
http://lnkd.in/Cfz92F
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl
vimeo.com/dlawrence/albums


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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 28, 2015 at 6:01:58 pm

[David Lawrence] "Both you and Dany mention fast CPU as being one of the most important factors for good AE performance. Any thoughts on Intel's Quad-core Devil's Canyon 4GHz i7 (vs Xeon)? The Haswell-E CPUs seem to have the fastest clock speed on the market for a reasonable price. Does AE take advantage of dual CPUs?"

As I mentioned, Ae is in transition right now. The answer to this simple question is somewhat complex. Please pardon a little meandering below...

First, for Ae CC 2014 and previous, while many (most?) effects in Ae CC 2014 are multithreaded, Ae's general architecture is not pervasively multithreaded.

In Ae CC 2014 and previous, the renderer and the GUI were synchronous. Interaction with the GUI precluded rendering, and rendering precluded interaction with the GUI.

Multiprocessing was a feature developed many years ago as a bit of a kludge to allow Ae to take advantage of multiple CPUs. It allows Ae to render multiple frames at the same time by launching separate background instances of the Ae renderer, each of which can work on a single frame at a time. Each renderer instance has its own private area of RAM. Each of these instances loads its own copy of the project file, each of these maintains its own copies of the footage and its own layer caches in memory, and upon completion of a rendered frame, each hands the final frame back the main process. (This inefficiency is one reason why we recommend so much RAM for Ae, even for projects with smaller rasters than yours. You need the RAM to be able to use the CPUs to render.)

Note that this multiprocessing architecture only allows Ae to spread multiple frames across multiple simultaneous renderers; it does not allow multiple renderers to contribute to the same frame.

The big feature of Ae CC 2015 is a major re-architecture. The renderer and the GUI have been split for the first time in Ae's 20+ year history; rendering and GUI interactions are now asynchronous, and non-blocking. This will (hopefully) be the foundation for all kinds of performance improvements -- but they are not all here today. In fact, some major features like Ae CC 2014's multiprocessing or cache in background have no current replacement in Ae CC 2015.

The reason I was pushing you for faster clock speeds versus higher core counts right now is that most of your interactions will not benefit from stacks of CPUs.

I don't know how long that will be good advice; as the new architecture is developed, a future version of Ae could benefit more from lots of cores than any individual core's clock speed.

I'd suggest striking the best balance you can, while considering your RAM usage. Four cores seems a bit light for me for final renders, but the higher clock speeds will make for faster interaction and iteration.

A little more on RAM: I tend toward Xeon over i7 partially to be able to go dual-processor for CC 2014 multiprocessing, but mainly to support ridiculous piles of RAM. The i7 Dany lists above "only" supports 64 GB. An 8k square image needs 256 MB of RAM at 8 bits per channel, so holding 4 of them in memory consumes 1 GB of RAM! At 60 frames per second, every 64 GB of RAM in the machine will give you about 4.27 seconds of single-layer, full-resolution, in-memory storage. Even previewing at reduced resolutions, you will want all the RAM you can stuff in the box.

Also, to make up for the limitations of RAM capacity, a fast cache drive is a must. Even if you can't go PCIe-attached SSD for primary storage, get it for Ae's disk cache.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Sep 28, 2015 at 6:22:49 pm

[Walter Soyka] "As I mentioned, Ae is in transition right now. The answer to this simple question is somewhat complex. Please pardon a little meandering below..."

Walter - many thanks for the detailed reply. Very helpful in understanding different considerations. Sounds like this is probably one of the worst times to invest in heavy iron for AE. ;) Oh well, we deal with what's on the table today. I'll pass this info up to the mothership and keep you posted. Thanks again!

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Chris Pettit
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 2, 2015 at 3:10:52 am

Cant tell you how much I appreciate your responses to Davids questions Walter. Interesting to get all of your perspectives on current state of AE. Just bought a new machine and will be installing CC (reluctantly) so appreciate all the info.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 2, 2015 at 1:03:20 pm

[Chris Pettit] "Cant tell you how much I appreciate your responses to Davids questions Walter. Interesting to get all of your perspectives on current state of AE. Just bought a new machine and will be installing CC (reluctantly) so appreciate all the info"

Thanks, Chris. I'd be happy to try to answer any other questions you might have.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 2, 2015 at 4:45:39 pm

Seconding what Chris said, Walter. Great info and very helpful.

A couple new questions:

What happens if we add Premiere Pro to the mix of applications?

We just got our first batch of test files back yesterday. They're 2Kx2K previews of the 8K files. I did a quickie 12-layer comp test in Premiere (Chris, I think that was your suggestion, thanks) on my MacBook Pro and though it couldn't playback in realtime, the rendered output worked great.

I'm thinking a 2K/8K proxy workflow in Premiere might be a good fit, especially since the masking tools in Pr CC are fine for our needs. I can also see benefits from dynamic linking between AE and Pr.

My understanding is Premiere takes advantage of GPU for final rendering so is this an argument for a fast CUDA-enabled GPU?

What about core count? Can Premiere take advantage of multiple cores/processors? We're going with some flavor of dual Xeon, based on your and Chris's feedback.

I assume maxing RAM and fast PCie storage is still the same.

Thanks again!

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Chris Pettit
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 2, 2015 at 10:48:18 pm

[David Lawrence] "What about core count? Can Premiere take advantage of multiple cores/processors? We're going with some flavor of dual Xeon, based on your and Chris's feedback."

I'm going to add to this question as well (sorry to piggy-back David). Since Premiere is GPU accelerated ,as I understand it, can it take advantage of multiple GPU's? (I will soon have dual Titan X cards) In Octane its all about CUDA cores, the more you have the faster the render. Is that true for Premiere?

Thanks again in advance Walter!


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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 3, 2015 at 9:51:58 am

[Chris Pettit] "Since Premiere is GPU accelerated ,as I understand it, can it take advantage of multiple GPU's? (I will soon have dual Titan X cards) In Octane its all about CUDA cores, the more you have the faster the render. Is that true for Premiere?"

Yes, with one caveat: real-time playback uses a single GPU only. Render supports multiple GPUs.

Check out the tests here:
http://www.provideocoalition.com/adobe-premiere-pro-and-multiple-gpus

That article also links to this white paper, which I had never read before but does have some information pertinent to this thread:
http://www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/solutions/broadcasting/pdfs/Adobe...


Chris, on a separate topic entirely, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Octane sometime. I'm very intrigued, but I haven't tried it yet. How much render improvement are you seeing? Could I build an Octane monster with as many GPUs as I could fit in the case, or an Octane render farm with a couple PCs and homogenous CPUs? How's the workflow?

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 3, 2015 at 8:42:40 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Check out the tests here:
http://www.provideocoalition.com/adobe-premiere-pro-and-multiple-gpus

That article also links to this white paper, which I had never read before but does have some information pertinent to this thread:
http://www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/solutions/broadcasting/pdfs/Adobe....."


Great info, Walter. Thank you!

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Shawn Miller
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 25, 2015 at 8:48:37 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Chris, on a separate topic entirely, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Octane sometime. I'm very intrigued, but I haven't tried it yet. How much render improvement are you seeing? Could I build an Octane monster with as many GPUs as I could fit in the case, or an Octane render farm with a couple PCs and homogenous CPUs? How's the workflow?"

Hey Walter,

I'm coming into this thread really late (and butting into your question to Chris, sorry), but, have you seen the demonstrations of Octane using multiple GPUs? Note the viewport performance... unreal. The answer to both of your questions is yes. Ocatane will utilize as many Cuda cores as you can stuff into a case, and you can build a render farm for additional render nodes. BTW, it will also run on Amazon...

















As I noted in another thread, one of the big advantages of Octane is the speed at which you can make design choices because of the viewport performance. I don't think I mentioned how much faster the final gathering render is though. If you haven't already, I think you should really download and try it for yourself... then try Arnold. I would be curious to know what you think. :-)

Shawn



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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 3, 2015 at 9:44:07 am

[David Lawrence] "My understanding is Premiere takes advantage of GPU for final rendering so is this an argument for a fast CUDA-enabled GPU?"

Yes. Not just final rendering, but normal playback, too.

Not everything happens on the GPU, but a lot of important processing does:
http://blogs.adobe.com/premierepro/2011/02/cuda-mercury-playback-engine-and...


[David Lawrence] "What about core count? Can Premiere take advantage of multiple cores/processors?"

Yes. Totally different architecture than Ae in this regard.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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David Cherniack
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 25, 2015 at 8:50:21 am

[Walter Soyka] " I tend toward Xeon over i7 partially to be able to go dual-processor for CC 2014 multiprocessing, but mainly to support ridiculous piles of RAM. The i7 Dany lists above "only" supports 64 GB. An 8k square image needs 256 MB of RAM at 8 bits per channel, so holding 4 of them in memory consumes 1 GB of RAM! At 60 frames per second, every 64 GB of RAM in the machine will give you about 4.27 seconds of single-layer, full-resolution, in-memory storage. Even previewing at reduced resolutions, you will want all the RAM you can stuff in the box."

The only downside of Xeons compared to i7's is the clock-speed/price ratio. i7's are unlocked and can be overclocked with limited impunity. My office X99 Haswell 5820 12 core is rated at 3.2GHz but runs with ease (<50 degrees) at 4GHz. Xeons are locked so you pay much more for equivalent cores and clock speed. That said, when I re-build my Premiere editing station it will be on dual xeons.

David
http://AllinOneFilms.com


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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 25, 2015 at 5:22:56 pm
Last Edited By David Lawrence on Oct 25, 2015 at 5:28:03 pm

[David Cherniack] "That said, when I re-build my Premiere editing station it will be on dual xeons."

David - Is the reason you plan on choosing dual Xeon in the future because you want dual processors or more RAM than you can get with i7?

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David Cherniack
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Oct 25, 2015 at 10:42:08 pm

More cores for Premiere.

David
http://AllinOneFilms.com


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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 3, 2015 at 8:23:18 pm
Last Edited By Ian Mapleson on Nov 4, 2015 at 2:31:18 pm

A few additional points worth noting:

Boards such as the ASUS Z10PE-D8 WS and Z10PE-D16 WS allow for high capacity RAM, with
dual XEONs, and varying degrees of multiple PCIe slot functionality. What you could do
is begin with a single 10-core XEON (eg. E5-2687W V3), add a 2nd later when the budget
permits, which also would expand the max RAM.

Someone mentioned the raytrace GPU renderer in AE. Note that AFAIK this does not
support Maxwell CUDA V2 (or has that changed with the latest CC 2015?), ie. a GTX 900
series card will work fine for OGL and viewport functions, but it won't work for RT3D.

Also, if budget is an issue, older cards are still very potent for AE as regards GPU
acceleration via CUDA, including the GTX 580 3GB (two of these are faster than a Titan),
GTX 780 Ti 3GB (same speed as the Titan for FP32, but less RAM), Titan and Titan Black.
One can also mix pro cards for viewport precision, etc., with CUDA cards, eg. a Quadro
K5000 with a couple of 780 Tis or Titans is a good match. However, if one isn't going
to use the RT3D function then the extra CUDA power is of course less relevant. If using
a gamer card as the primary display though, then it makes more sense to use a 780 Ti or
Titan, properly supported as it will be for RT3D, etc. (not so the 970, which isn't really
that fast compared to the 700s and Titans for CUDA, eg. even a 980 is 10% slower than a 780 Ti
for RT3D). Perhaps I'm out of date though, it'd be great if Maxwell CUDA V2 is supported now,
in which case a Titan X or 980 Ti would be good. In all cases, models which employ external
exhausts are best, as they will prevent waste heat from limiting the cooling that's viable
for the CPU (many models of gfx card dump some or all of their hot air inside a case, which
can badly affect the CPU cooling).

With respect to CPUs, it does need good cooling to get the most out of a 5960X, but if
one can employ an H110 or somesuch then 4.5GHz+ is possible, though perhaps somewhat less
if a system is fitted with 64GB or 128GB RAM (the ASUS X99-E WS would be better for this
than the lesser Deluxe model, for various reasons). Varies greatly between CPUs, but I'd
expect to get at least 4.3 from a 5960X with max RAM using good cooling. However, there is
of course a tradeoff between how high one pushes the chip and its long term lifespan. XEON
hardware does have one advantage here, ie. longer general lifespan. Oh, if using water
coolers, remember to include active cooling over the mbd chipset components.

For those on a budget, there's a lot of utility in used hardware, eg. a 3930K will run at
4.7GHz+, and a board like the ASUS X79(-E) WS supports up to 4 GPUs, though the 64GB max RAM
is less than X99, and the native Intel SATA3 support is less. Still a decent setup though.
However, with $5K to $10K available, an X99 or XEON equivalent should be very viable.

Re storage, Samsung 850 Pro for the budget-minded, Samsung SM951 512GB M.2 NVMe if budget
permits. Also a good idea if possible to have separate devices for source, destination and
cache, and I use a separate SSD for the Windows paging file too (850 Pro would be fine for
that, though an EVO would also suffice). X99 or XEON equivalent would be good for using
multiple devices like this, ie. lots of Intel SATA3 ports or M.2 (X99 is probably stronger
for M.2 support though). For general storage, definitely Enterprise SATA or SAS (don't rely
on consumer SATA), and consider proper LTO for longer term backup (good used deals on LTO3/4,
though of course LTO5/6 would be ideal, just very costly; I bagged an LTO1 recently for just
10 UKP, just to get used to the tech).

As for cases, if you don't need portability then the distinctly large but incredibly impressive
Nanoxia Deep Silence 6 would be ideal. Loads of space inside, excellent fans, enough room for
multiple water coolers if need be, very reconfigurable. If portability is needed though, the
smaller Corsair C70 is good. Enough space for an H110, four GPUs and a beefy PSU.

Ian.

PS. Gigabyte has an interesting dual-XEON board aswell (the MW70-3S0); it has the usual max
RAM of 1TB and various PCIe slots, but also has onboard 12Gbit SAS. No M.2 though, whereas
ASUS' Z10PE boards do have M.2.

--------
SGI Guru


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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 4, 2015 at 8:20:57 am

Fantastic post, Ian. Thank you!

At this point since we anticipate using both After Effects and Premiere Pro equally, we're having discussions about building a monster - i.e. maxing out everything as much as possible: number of CPUs, clock speed, core count, RAM. We'll also spec multiple GPUs and want to optimize for both Premiere and AE per the test links in Walter's post above:

https://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/2/1066563

I'm especially interested in what you've written re: CUDA GPU boards. I'm finding similar information from my research online - a lot of people say that depending on application, newer, relatively inexpensive gamer GPUs will outperform bigger, more expensive boards. We're not doing ray-tracing or any CGI related rendering. Our GPU needs are mainly driven by what helps accelerate Premiere playback and output rendering. We also need to drive a couple 4K screens and a 1080p 3D display. I'm interested in getting the most bang for our buck with GPU selection and will do more research on the boards you mentioned. Any other advice appreciated.

As you can imagine, we're now looking at a system that is a bit more expensive than $5-10K. The good news is that if we get the final go ahead, we'll have more budget to build the monster.

There's interest and discussion about possibly building a system in-house, but I also want to have custom build vendors as an option if we need to go outside. I've looked at configuring a HP Z840 and am investigating other vendors. Chris has mentioned ADK in Kentucky and I've read great things about Puget Systems.

I get the impression you build your own machines. Is this correct or do you work with a custom build vendor? Are there any builders you'd especially recommend?

That question goes out to anyone else reading this thread - any recommendations on high-end PC builders?

Thanks again!

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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 4, 2015 at 5:01:06 pm

David Lawrence writes:
> Fantastic post, Ian. Thank you!

Most welcome!

Worth mentioning btw that if one is moving from using RT3D to C4D, then plugins like iRay
and Octane do support the newer 900 series NV cards, and of course the Titan X.


> At this point since we anticipate using both After Effects and Premiere Pro equally,
> we're having discussions about building a monster - i.e. maxing out everything as much
> as possible: number of CPUs, clock speed, core count, RAM. We'll also spec multiple
> GPUs and want to optimize for both Premiere and AE per the test links in Walter's post above:

I guess in that case it makes sense to have the optimal primary GPU for Premiere, while
selecting extra GPUs that benefit AE, or some tradeoff inbetween.

Since it's probably wise to match GPU architectures (and thus driver release streams),
one could do something like have a K5200 or K6000 with several Titans (or Titan Black,
or 780 Ti; Titans would have better FP64), ie. all Kepler; or an M5000/M6000 with several
Titan Xs (or 980 Tis), ie. all Maxwell.


> https://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/2/1066563

Thanks for the link, that was interesting, affirmed some info I've found elsewhere.


> inexpensive gamer GPUs will outperform bigger, more expensive boards. ...

That can be true, but there are important caveats to this.

Professional cards are designed to last longer, they generate less heat, the drivers are
more optimised, the product support is better, they usually have more RAM (in some cases
ECC), they support higher colour depths, etc.

Gamer cards often have a compute speed edge (eg. for those on a very low budget, multiple
580s is a good compromise), which makes their low cost look attractive, but they often have
less RAM, and most models will dump a lot of heat inside a case, especially since they use
higher clock rates than the pro equivalents based on the same GPU design. This is particularly
true of highly factory-overclocked models which often provide the best/price performance
because they sell better (it's why I bought a 1266MHz EVGA GTX 980, it was cheaper than
all slower models).

To this end, if one is going to employ gamer cards at all, it's very important to either plan
carefully to handle the hot air inside the case, or look for reference models of gamer cards
which normally use coolers that expel hot air only out the back of the case (or search for
specific models that are designed to work that way, eg. EVGA had its EE line of various cards,
which stands for External Exhaust, though these days they don't tend to name that way). A typical
decent Titan X model would be the EVGA 12G-P4-2992-KR.

I've also found that many of what are supposed to be dual-slot gamer cards are infact somewhat
wider than 2 slots, which can make it a real pain to fit several of them smoothly inside a case. My
test system has four top-end MSI GTX 580 3GB Lightning Xtremes @ 900MHz (total CUDA power that
beats two Titan Blacks), but I had to use small bits of wadding to keep the cards apart (I'd say
the cards are about 2mm wider than they should be to honestly be called 2-slot), and of course
several side fans were essential (I use NDS PWM for their excellent performance and low noise,
plus they're half the cost of Noctuas, and look nicer, for those who care). Sometimes though,
optimal airflow is not what one might expect, and as I say one must be careful when using a water
cooler for the CPU to ensure that the mbd chipset is kept cool aswell. My system has an H110 for
the CPU, plus some smaller fans cooling the mbd chipset and the 64GB RAM. The side fans though,
after some experimenting, worked better as intakes, with the large front 230mm fan acting as an
exhaust (the rear exhaust handles the rest; the four 140mm fans at the top for the H110 are
intakes). See:

http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/3930K_quad580_13.jpg

I had assumed the side fans should be exhausts, but in practice the cards behaved better with fresh
air blowing down on them from the side, which is then pulled away elsewhere, rather than just a front
fan providing an intake of air & side fans sucking it away. And with the side fans as intakes, the
top fans for the H110 worked better as intakes aswell. This is just for the case I used though (an
Aerocool XPredator Evil Green), it will vary between cases.

These issues would be a lot less complicated if one used cards that dump all their heat externally
(I've built systems with multiple standard 3GB 580s which were less cramped), though Quadro cards
don't get so hot anyway (lower core clocks) while often providing better performance and features
for non-compute tasks due to driver optimisation differences.

The biggest performance difference though is as you say for GPU acceleration. Gamer cards can be
a great way of obtaining low cost GPU power for supported rendering, but do take note of things
like the warranty duration, exact card width, cooling, customer feedback on model reliability, etc.


> We're not doing ray-tracing or any CGI related rendering. Our GPU needs are mainly driven by
> what helps accelerate Premiere playback and output rendering. We also need to drive a couple 4K
> screens and a 1080p 3D display. ...

I guess whatever card is best for Premiere then; I'd go for an M5000 or M6000 if I could. If you're
using AE aswell though, then additional top-end gamer cards would be useful, and from those links I
gather that Premiere can make use of multiple GPUs aswell in some cases.


> There's interest and discussion about possibly building a system in-house, but I also want to
> have custom build vendors as an option if we need to go outside. I've looked at configuring a
> HP Z840 and am investigating other vendors. Chris has mentioned ADK in Kentucky and I've read
> great things about Puget Systems.

There are quite a few, though I've not looked into them that much. I guess the biggest attraction
of a prebuilt system is reliability, support, etc. It'll be a tried & trusted setup. Building your
own can save a heck of a lot of money (HP's markups seem pretty high given the raw parts costs
involved), but a self-build is inevitably an experimental process, and will likely require a fair
degree of reading up on all sorts of things, tiem investment, ironing out unexpected build issues,
etc. Still, some may regard it as a worthwhile exercise, if the end result is a more powerful
customised system. If I was building something like that, there's certainly plenty of scope for
exploiting PCIe SSDs, M.2 NVMe for the C-drive, all sorts of things.


> I get the impression you build your own machines. ...

Yes; currently building four for various people, though they're not XEON setups (three are 6-core
4.8GHz X79, one is 4-core 5GHz Z68). Possibly building a 5th shortly, X99 with 5960X and 980 Ti.

This is a somewhat new venture for me though (just the last 3 years; the main stuff I do is SGIs),
and I've not tackled anything seriously high-end yet (probably next year I'll end up doing my first
multi-XEON build).

For the sort of system you're talking about, that's where the extra cost of getting a pro company
like Puget to make it may be worthwhile, though such places might not offer the flexibility of doing
things like exploiting gamer cards for extra GPUs (I suppose one could order a base system and
then modify it, but that probably has warranty implications). Who knows though, you could ask a
place if they can do something like a dual-2687W-v3 XEON with an M6000, but stuff in three extra
Titan Xs instead of their default listed GPU options, fit Samsung NVMe M.2 SSDs, etc.. I'd be
surprised if they said no, given the sale value involved.


> Is this correct or do you work with a custom build vendor? ...

Just me atm. One thing I specialise in is making best use of used parts to reduce costs, as that's
where the main margin lies (though I do tend to obtain RAM, SSDs, DVDRW, media card readers and all
fans new), eg. here's a system I built for someone in early 2013, but it's not a suitable m.o. for
everyone, and almost certainly not for the level of system you're considering, ie. better to get
everything new, in order to have maximum warranty status, though I do obtain new items aswell via
normal auction (saved 35 on an 850 Pro 512GB this week). Still, the used savings have certainly
proved usual to people, eg. I built a system with a K5000 for someone, saved the guy 700 UKP vs.
buying it new, but it's a risk for both parties given the lack of original warranty.

However, sometimes one can be surprised. I obtained a used OCZ Vector 512GB a few years ago, put
it in an AE system I built for someone for the AE cache. A year later (about 3 months ago) it failed,
but much to my surprise, OCZ replaced it without quibble, sending me a new Vector 180 480GB, even
though I did say in my RMA request that the Vector 512GB was bought used from eBay.

In general, the bigger the build & the higher the budget, the less I would suggest anyone make
use of used hardware. You're probably way over the threshold. :D And if you can afford an M6000
with one or more TitanXs, then Currahee!! 8)


> ... Are there any builders you'd especially recommend?

Alas I don't have any experience of such builders to make any recommendations, sorry.

I was impressed that Puget offer a quad-socket system though. I think Dell used to have something
similar, but not now (or maybe that was just a server, can't recall).

Ian.

--------
SGI Guru


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Asaf Sagi
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 8, 2015 at 12:03:50 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Also, to make up for the limitations of RAM capacity, a fast cache drive is a must. Even if you can't go PCIe-attached SSD for primary storage, get it for Ae's disk cache.
"


Isn't using an SSD for Ae disk cache going to shorten its lifespan dramatically?


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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 8, 2015 at 7:14:03 pm

Not with modern models like the 850 EVO/Pro), and besides, it's this sort of task for which SSDs are ideally suited (the performance made possible by SSDs is a natural match for how AE processes data). Otherwise it'd be a bit like saying don't use a knife to cut meat because it'll blunt the blade. S'what knives are for. :)

Ian.

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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 8, 2015 at 9:25:18 pm

[Ian Mapleson] "Not with modern models like the 850 EVO/Pro), and besides, it's this sort of task for which SSDs are ideally suited (the performance made possible by SSDs is a natural match for how AE processes data). Otherwise it'd be a bit like saying don't use a knife to cut meat because it'll blunt the blade. S'what knives are for. :)"

Ian, since we're on the topic of performance storage (which I was going to bring up!) I was wondering if we could get a bit deeper into the topic.

Walter mentions PCIe-attached SSD stoarge above:

[Walter Soyka] "For storage, I'd recommend going solid-state and PCIe-attached, if your requirements allow for the lower capacity versus a spinning-rust RAID. You might consider transcoding those MP4 files to uncompressed image sequences, trading away disk space for lower CPU load."

My understanding is that this is the fastest possible internal storage for a PC. In my monster system, I'm imagining three PCIe SSDs - 1) System and applications, 2) Adobe cache (AE and Premiere), 3) Rendered output

A fourth, larger fast SATA drive would be for storing final output. Backup would be some external solution TBD.

Does this seem like a reasonable plan?

Re: PCIe - when I go through PC configuration options (for example on HP's Z840 customize page) I find I'm only allowed one or two PCIe storage choices. I assume this is a limitation of the motherboard? Are there motherboards out there I should be looking for that would allow for additional fast PCIe storage (three or more SSDs)?

Thanks again for sharing your expertise!

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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 9, 2015 at 1:02:50 am

David, here's another option I'm now considering for our workstations: using the on-board RAID controller with a stack of SSDs, stored in an Icy Dock ToughArmour backplane cage [link].

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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David Lawrence
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 9, 2015 at 4:32:12 am

[Walter Soyka] "David, here's another option I'm now considering for our workstations: using the on-board RAID controller with a stack of SSDs, stored in an Icy Dock ToughArmour backplane cage [link]."

Awesome Walter, thank you!

BTW, what are doing for backup? Are you using tape or swappable HDs?

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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 9, 2015 at 11:03:33 am

[David Lawrence] "BTW, what are doing for backup? Are you using tape or swappable HDs?"

Nearline storage on NAS, archive on LTO-5. I am eagerly awaiting LTO-7.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 9, 2015 at 10:17:41 am
Last Edited By Ian Mapleson on Nov 9, 2015 at 10:37:11 am

David Lawrence writes:
> My understanding is that this is the fastest possible internal storage for a PC. In my monster
> system, I'm imagining three PCIe SSDs - 1) System and applications, 2) Adobe cache (AE and
> Premiere), 3) Rendered output

Hmm, I'm not sure you'd notice any useful or measurable gain from having a PCIe SSD for the C-drive
as opposed to a normal top-end SATA SSD like an 850 Pro. Maybe you would, but so far I've seen no
data, ie. to a large extent people are just assuming this would be the case but without any results
to back that up. I would do tests, but I don't have the relevant parts atm, can't afford them either.

What I mean btw is someone comparing a system for AE where it's as you described (PCIe for the cache,
PCIe for the output, etc.), but one has an 850 Pro for the C-drive while the other config uses PCIe.
Change just the variable in question, see what happens. All too often comments come from people with
entirely different builds (CPU, mbd, gfx, etc.), so conclusions are iffy at best.

Remember too it's a good idea to have a separate SSD for the Windows paging file, just a medium
model like a 120GB. For a system with 64GB RAM, the paging file should be 96GB, leave the rest unused
for spare area. Frees up lots of space from the C-drive, which makes quite a difference if the C-drive
SSD is only 256GB. For a system with 128GB RAM, then a 250GB EVO would suffice (paging file should be
1.5X RAM capacity).

Lastly, consider this alternative: PCIe for the cache and output, but a PCIe for the source input and
normal SATA SSD for the C-drive. Would having a PCIe SSD instead of a SATA SSD for the source files
be faster? I don't know for sure, but annecdotal evidence suggests it may be.


> A fourth, larger fast SATA drive would be for storing final output. ...

Do consider using Enterprise SATA, not consumer SATA. I've had good success obtaining new/unused
drives of this kind, mostly 2TB Hitachi/Seagate.


> Backup would be some external >solution TBD.

Recommend LTO, or if cost is an issue then RAID1 at a minimum, RAID10 for an extra speed edge.


> Does this seem like a reasonable plan?

If you can use PCIe for all of them then sure, but it'll gobble up PCIe slots pretty quick (most mbds
will only have one M.2 port you can use). The more normal PCIe slots you use up for SSDs, the fewer
will be available for extra GPU expansion.

Hmm, is it possible to buy a x16 PCIe to M.2 multiport adapter card yet? I would have thought there'd
be a market for something like that. There are single port cards, but I couldn't find one with multiple
M.2 ports (not even on a site like span.com).

Ian.




> Re: PCIe - when I go through PC configuration options (for example on HP's Z840 customize page)
> I find I'm only allowed one or two PCIe storage choices. I assume this is a limitation of the
> motherboard? ...

Not necessarily, but probably. OEMs often use custom boards which have nowhere near as many PCIe
slots as a board like the ASUS X99E-WS.


> Are there motherboards out there I should be looking for that would allow for additional fast
> PCIe storage (three or more SSDs)?

See above, that's what I'd use for a prosumer build. In the dual-socket XEON world, it'd be the
ASUS Z10PE-D8 WS instead.


> Thanks again for sharing your expertise!

Most welcome! :)

Ian.

--------
SGI Guru


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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 9, 2015 at 10:56:06 am

[Ian Mapleson] "OEMs often use custom boards which have nowhere near as many PCIe slots as a board like the ASUS X99E-WS."

Here's the PCIe configuration on a Z840:
Slot 1: PCIe Gen3 x4
Slot 2: PCIe Gen3 x16
Slot 3: PCIe Gen3 x8 - Available ONLY when 2nd processor is installed
Slot 4: PCIe Gen3 x16 - Available ONLY when 2nd processor is installed
Slot 5: PCIe Gen2 x4 when 1 CPU is installed. Transforms to PCIe Gen3 x8 when 2nd CPU is installed
Slot 6: PCIe Gen3 x16
Slot 7: PCIe Gen2 x1

HP presumably offers only two Turbo Drives because those plus the GPU will take all the x16 slots, but I wonder if that's really necessary: note that the Fusion IO cards read 2.8 GB/s and only require PCIe Gen2 x8.

HP does not offer M.2 onboard on the Z840.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 9, 2015 at 11:06:45 am
Last Edited By Ian Mapleson on Nov 9, 2015 at 11:07:53 am

Walter Soyka writes:
> Here's the PCIe configuration on a Z840:

Yikes, what a mess! Yeah, exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of, all sorts of horrible
dependencies & gotchas. Makes deciding what to use rather complicated re SSDs, PCIe, etc.

I should have been more specific btw, I meant OEM boards often have nowhere near as many full
x16 slots as a board like the X99E-WS.

Hence, the ASUS Z10PE-D8 WS is a far better board for this sort of task than whatever HP is using.
I'd rather do a home build than by a Z840.


> Nearline storage on NAS, archive on LTO-5. I am eagerly awaiting LTO-7.

Sweet! 8)

Ian.

--------
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Thomas Leong
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:40:58 pm

I'd like to chip in my two cents here to point out a feature-wise competitive motherboard to the ASUS X99-E WS, and that is the ASRock X99 Extreme 11.

Granted the ASRock does not have 7 PCIe x16 slots. It has 5, and similar to the ASUS, 4 are x16 lanes when all 4 are occupied mainly owing to the 2 PLX PEX 8747 embedded chips (which I suspect the ASUS also has though not mentioned by ASUS).

For storage, I would think the ASRock offers superior features in that there are 2 x 32Gb/s M.2 slots (though they share PCIe lanes with a SATA3 connector when occupied) versus 1 similar speed M.2 slot for the ASUS. Additionally, the ASRock has 18 x SATA3 (8 x SAS3 12.0 Gb/s + 10 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s versus the ASUS 8 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s).

In summary then, both boards support Xeon processors, can cater to 4-way Crossfire or SLI, have 12K hour capacitors and if I'm not wrong both are 12-phase Power Designs for smooth power delivery at low temps. But the ASRock has more high-speed storage features than the ASUS.

Thomas Leong



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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 10, 2015 at 1:41:28 am
Last Edited By Ian Mapleson on Nov 10, 2015 at 1:26:48 pm

Thomas Leong writes:
> ... (which I suspect the ASUS also has though not mentioned by ASUS).

Yes, it has them, I posted a link to a picture showing them earlier.


> For storage, I would think the ASRock offers superior features in that there are 2 x 32Gb/s M.2 slots
> (though they share PCIe lanes with a SATA3 connector when occupied) versus 1 similar speed M.2 slot
> for the ASUS. Additionally, the ASRock has 18 x SATA3 (8 x SAS3 12.0 Gb/s + 10 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s versus
> the ASUS 8 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s).

I do like the presence of SAS on the Asrock board, and it's nice that it has two M.2 ports (caveats
with lane sharing notwithstanding), but I'm not sure moving someone onto a path of using SAS devices
with a consumer level board is such a good idea, given the cost of SAS storage (it's a feature set
which seems out of place on a single-socket board). Also, some of the effectiveness of SSD performance
is lost when connected via the 3008, partly because speed is limited by the SAS controller's max IOPS,
but mostly because the 3008 has no cache RAM AFAIK (ruins RAID0 when I tried it). The Asrock is also
a fair bit more expensive.

I've used both Asrock and ASUS boards, and for a long while was a fanatical Asrock user (I have sooo
many of their P55 Extreme/Deluxe boards, X58 Extreme6, etc.), but I jumped ship when the X79 Extreme11
came out, couldn't believe they'd put SAS on a mbd without any cache RAM, and it cost a fortune (well
over 600 UKP).

I wouldn't put a XEON on either board, an oc'd 5960X would be faster (same overall threaded speed,
much better IPC once oc'd). XEONs only really shine once 2 or more are put on a multi-socket board.

Trouble is of course, if Asrock uses a SAS controller which did have some cache RAM, that would add
a lot to the cost.

Don't get me wrong, I love Asrock boards, I have loads, but the feature set of the Extreme11 isn't
a natural match for Adobe apps IMO, and the ASUS will handle an oc'd 5960X better for sure.

Ian.

--------
SGI Guru


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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 10, 2015 at 1:57:08 pm

[Ian Mapleson] "Yikes, what a mess! Yeah, exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of, all sorts of horrible dependencies & gotchas. Makes deciding what to use rather complicated re SSDs, PCIe, etc. I should have been more specific btw, I meant OEM boards often have nowhere near as many full
x16 slots as a board like the X99E-WS."


I think it's a tradeoff. Presumably the Z840 slot configuration is as complicated as it is because the HP's Gen3 PCIe slots are CPU-direct, not switched like the X99E-WS. This means lower latency and provides the option for optimizing performance by minding the slot load order.

That said, I'd doubt there'd be any measurable performance difference for our applications.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Ian Mapleson
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 10, 2015 at 2:42:41 pm
Last Edited By Ian Mapleson on Nov 10, 2015 at 2:50:11 pm

Walter Soyka writes:
> I think it's a tradeoff. Presumably the Z840 slot configuration is as complicated as it is because
> the HP's Gen3 PCIe slots are CPU-direct, not switched like the X99E-WS. ...

The switching is more for broad multi-GPU support, etc., but I don't think it adds any significant latency. I suspect bandwidth, and the ability to use broader configurations at all (such as three
GPUs and a RAID card), are probably more useful (has anyone tested the latency factor?). But then,
OEM systems have always had a less flexible PCIe setup compared to top-end consumer boards. That's
why I rather like the Z10PE-D8 WS, kinda the best of both worlds, though even there it's not quite
as good as the X99E-WS.


> That said, I'd doubt there'd be any measurable performance difference for our applications.

Only insofar as a board with more PCIe slots can allow one to install extra CUDA cards for faster
rendering, or use spare slots for further PCIe SSDs, etc.


Btw, I've talked to someone who has tested an HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro for raw 8K work, he was
able to obtain approx. 4.6GB/sec write and 8.2GB/sec read sustained. Not cheap though. :D See:

http://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetPDF.aspx/4AA6-1667ENW.pdf

Ian.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects
on Nov 9, 2015 at 12:58:05 am

[Asaf Sagi] "Isn't using an SSD for Ae disk cache going to shorten its lifespan dramatically?"

Like Ian said, not like you'd think. Check out the SSD Endurance Test [link] for more.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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