Exploring Distributed Rendering with V-Ray Swarm

Mark PhilippAll Topics

Exploring Distributed Rendering with Chaos Group V-Ray Swarm

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For those who may not know, V-Ray is an industry-standard set of tools for many popular 3D modeling and architectural visualization programs. These tools help to enhance your 3D renderings drastically. V-Ray 3.0 also has a distributed rendering platform called V-Ray Swarm. In this post, we will discuss what distributed rendering is, why it’s useful, and how V-Ray Swarm improves the distributed rendering process.

What is “Distributed Rendering”?

Typically, when your computer begins to render a 3D scene in your 3D modeling or architectural visualization software, your computer must process a lot of data related to the 3D model. Depending on the complexity of your scene, there can be a whole lot of work that your single computer will have to perform, leading to long rendering times. Even if your computer has high-end, cutting-edge hardware, a complex scene can still take a long time to render for a single computer.

But what if we could harness the power of the other computers around the office? This is the idea behind distributed rendering. With distributed rendering, in the simplest terms, the render job is worked on by multiple computers at the same time. This results in a large decrease in rendering times. This concept is not necessarily new. There are scholarly papers about distributed rendering from the late 1980’s, for instance. Regardless, the technology is still heavily used in the industry today. The technology continues to evolve in more user-friendly and dynamic ways.

What is V-Ray Swarm?

V-Ray Swarm was introduced in 2017 as a new distributed rendering solution for V-Ray 3.0. Previously, V-Ray used a distributed rendering system that required V-Ray to be installed on every “render node”. A render node is a computer that contributes to the rendering process on the network. Additionally, the old system required you to know the network addresses of the render node machines. While this system isn’t bad, it can be somewhat complicated to use.

With V-Ray Swarm, an easy-to-use web interface has been created, which shows you all the available render nodes, how much processing power they have available, and if they are currently working, enabled, or unstable. Using this user interface, you can add tags to specific nodes to group them together. This allows you to easily choose a group of machines to render a job just by using the tag.

WebInterface

V-Ray Swarm has also added the ability to dynamically change how much processing power is being used on a job while that job is being processed. In the following screenshot, we see the Swarm settings within V-Ray Swarm for Sketchup. A slider dictates how much processing power you want the Swarm to be contributing. The “Tags” section allows you to specify which machines will be involved in the job. Any machine that matches the tag “slave11111” will be put on the job.

Distributed Rendering with V-Ray Swarm

Additionally, there are now profiling tools, so you can see performance metrics of any machine’s CPU or GPU while the job is being processed.

Licensing

V-Ray Swarm works off the Universal Render Node License. Studica offers different packages for our V-Ray products. Some packages come with a single universal render node license. Other packages come with more than 1 universal render node package. Note that any V-Ray purchase that comes with 1 universal render node will NOT be compatible with V-Ray Swarm. The reason is that the single universal render node license applies to the local computer you have installed V-Ray on. The reason for this is because V-Ray has two licenses: the user-interface license and the universal render node license. The user interface license gives you access to the V-Ray tools and the universal render node license gives you access to the rendering capabilities of V-Ray. The result is that when you install V-Ray on your local machine if you want to use the renderer on your local machine, you will have to use your single render node license.

Therefore, if you wish to use Swarm, you will want to be sure that you have more than 1 universal render node license available. If you have 5 render node licenses, for instance, then you can download V-Ray Swarm for the program you use and install it on 4 different computers. Once you license Swarm on those machines, then you’ll be able to setup the distributed rendering network.

Compatibility

It’s important to note that V-Ray Swarm is currently only compatible with the following programs:

According to CGPress, Chaos Group is looking to implement V-Ray Swarm for 3DS Max and Maya in the future.

Conclusion

Overall, V-Ray Swarm is still doing the same thing that the old V-Ray distributed rendering did, but it provides a much more convenient way to do it. Swarm also provides new tools that will help you track your render nodes and manage the performance consumption on your distributed network. It certainly seems like an upgrade from the old distributed rendering system for V-Ray. Hopefully, Chaos Group will continue to add Swarm to the rest of their products.

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