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Pimped Graphics Machine

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Daniel d'Avoine
Pimped Graphics Machine
on Jan 20, 2010 at 12:50:58 pm

Have given some spec to my boss for a new machine to run After effects and Cinema 4D. He wants to look into a really fast machine that will reduce render times. Here is the spec that i have given him any on care to advance it further.

64bit Operating system.
Minimum 4 GB RAM
2 x (high rpm) hard drives
2.9ghz dual core intel processor
Graphics card with OpenGL 2.0 compatiblity (recomended model Nvidia Quadro FX4500 512mb)

Obiviously i would look to bumping up the RAM. Also good to bare in mind i am specing this for a PC, i personally prefer mac's but the companby i work for runs only pc's.


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Pimped Graphics Machine
on Jan 20, 2010 at 2:18:15 pm

Your processor is much too slow. Ideally you'd have two quad core processors. And, at least for this version of AE, you want at least 2 Gigs of RAM per core plus a bit more to run the OS and any other programs in the background.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.

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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Pimped Graphics Machine
on Jan 20, 2010 at 2:20:35 pm

Hi Dan -

Here are the specs on my machine that I configured (with help from the Cow members) about 6 months ago:

Intel Motherboard - DP45SG - this has an ESATA connector for a RAID
Quad Core2 Q9550, 2.83GHz, 1333MHz, L2 12M
8GB of PC3-10600 CL9 DDR3 240p DIMM RAM
GEForce GTX 260 - EVGA graphics card
2 - 500GB Seagate SATA2 7200rpm hard disks - one for OS, one for Applications
2 - 750GB 7200rpm 32mb SATA2 hard drives - for media files - this is NOT striped - at some point I will probably add a RAID array for doing HD - I haven't tried editing true HD on this pup yet
600watt silent fan power supply - this thing is really quiet - I can probably do audio recording in the same room with this running.
Case - X-Cruiser Black system chassis - this is a gamer case with plenty of room for expansion.

That's about it, other than that it's running Vista Business 64-bit. I was originally going to go with XP Pro 64-bit, but I think the upgrade path to Win7 will be smoother, plus Adobe recommends Vista 64 for the CS4 production bundle, and so far, I can see why. This thing screams! I just loaded 40 minutes of cloud footage I shot yesterday in 1080i; it loaded fine in .mts (Canon native format) format into AE, and I was able to speed it up 2000 times, giving me a really nice, smooth time-lapse effect, without the usual light stutter you get when you use the intervalometer setting on a camera. It will render about one and a half minutes or better to RAM with the current 8MB of RAM.

UPDATE: I have finished a three minute HD project in Premiere CS4 working with HVC200 P2 footage, shot at 1920 x 1080. Working from my single 500gb media drive, I have had absolutely no problems handling the footage at full res. That said, I do have to render a few things here and there for realtime playback, but I'm very happy so far, and it rendered for distribution sizes in no time. And this machine cost me 1600 dollars! Next on the docket is a RAID array.

Joe Bourke
Creative Director / Multimedia Specialist
B&S Exhibits and Multimedia

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Joe Moya
Re: Pimped Graphics Machine
on Jan 20, 2010 at 2:34:53 pm

If looking for speed... you should probably use a dual Raid 0 setup using the 15k rpm hard drives (...that's a total of 4 HD's working with 2 x I/O's Per Raid) with an Adaptec Raid Controller.... plus, a dual quad (8x) CPU. You'll see a significant boost with two things: 64bit with the max. amount of RAM you can afford...PLUS... a dual Raid 0 harddrive with really fast raid controllers. The speed bottle neck is your hard drives more so than your cpu/gpu or ram.

A good HD render setup will run you at least 800 US dollars... but, for only about 400 dollars more you can get larger HD's... which can be a signficant advantage if you are working with HiDef video.

All that being said... the best way to improve the speed of your machine is work with compositing software that is not so much RAM dependent... but rather...uses HD caching. And, that would exclude AE as a compositing application.... at least until CS5 comes out (based on what has been recentlyl released by Adobe).... which brings me to my next point... if you are trying to get ahead of the curve... your video card will not be the best choice for what is seems to be on the horizon for CS5- you need the 4800).

In have plenty of room to make your suggestions for a "really fast" render machine... specially with regard to your HD setup, CPU speed and video card.

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Dave LaRonde
Re: Pimped Graphics Machine
on Jan 20, 2010 at 4:05:11 pm

My advice: go to the Adobe web site and look up information on AE's compatibility with 64-bit Windows XP and Windows 7, which is also a 64 bit OS.

Does it look good? Then trick out that machine with as much RAM as it can hold.

When rendering on 64-bit systems, the current version of AE (32-bit application) in its multiprocessing mode can utilize up to 4GB RAM per core by launching additional instances of the AE render engine. You render 8 frames in the time it takes to render one. Speedy.

Lord only knows what will happen with the next version of AE, which will be a 64-bit application. But AE has always been a RAM hog, and I don't think it's going to change.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Tony Silva
Re: Pimped Graphics Machine
on Jan 20, 2010 at 11:40:39 pm

I run Vista64 on my MacPro, and it works fabulous. Much easier than building a machine and not that much more $$$ either. Obviously don't buy crap like RAM or HD's or vid cards from apple though. Plus an added bonus is having a MacOS machine on site.

A fast RAID isn't going to help you with AE or C4D as much as a boatload of RAM.
I'd say the most important thing is multiple cores (at least 8) and 2 GB of RAM per core. At least for AE, not sure about C4D.

You could always look into a render farm also. 6 old school servers is still faster than my machine.

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Daniel d'Avoine
Re: Pimped Graphics Machine
on Jan 21, 2010 at 1:47:37 pm

Thanks for all your help guys will look into all this spec and see what i can come up with and hope the boss goes for it.


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