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View Full Version : Anyone using a 3DBoxx workstation?



haknslash
02-29-2012, 05:02 PM
Currently I have dual cards (see sig) but my machine still isn't as fast as I'd like it to render or handle files in Shot in real time. I am a design engineer in the manufacturing industry but I'm also the companies 'go-to guy' for all things rendering, specialty modeling, animations etc) so I use a slew of Autodesk Products (Inventor, 3DS Max, Alias, Mudbox, etc). My IT department isn't a fan of me using a "gaming card" on a machine that uses the ADSK products. I understand their initial concerns but I also know of people who use gaming cards on 'workstation' machines and have no issues.

So last year I set aside an ear holder for buying another machine. After my experiences, I'm always skeptical about anyone that creates a computer, software, whatever that claims it can 'handle it all' or is a true all-in-one package. Rarely has this ever worked out quite right or 'as advertised'. There is always something that gets left off or has an issue. But I have seen some of the Boxx Technologies products in person, specifically the Render Farm (drool :D) and the small RenderPro dedicated personal rendering solution. I have yet to play with or see in person how the 3DBoxx machine (fully spec'd out) performs.

I've read all the white papers and published comparison reviews on the 3DBoxx workstation...but I would like to hear from real-world people who are doing both engineering/design work as well as creating renders and animations using Shot, 3DS Max, etc. So does such a person exist on this forum? If so I'd love to hear your thoughts on how the unit performs in real-world duty.

haknslash
03-13-2012, 12:01 PM
No replies so I take it I will be the first on here as the guinee pig?! :)

Got the approval from upper management for my new system to replace my Z800 in my sig.

With the help from Rich Petit (sales) the fine engineering team over at Boxx we spec'd a machine that we feel will suit my needs:
3DBoxx 4920 Xtreme
Intel i7 Six Core 3960X (overclocked and enchanced @ 4.5 Ghz)
16GB DDR3 1600 (4 DIMMS)
NVidia Quadro 4000
NVidia Quadro 600 (to help w/ quad monitor support)
NVidia Tesla C2075 (dedicated CUDA yum!)
500GB 7,200rpm SATA
40GB 2.5 SSD Cache HD
20x DVD±RW

I think it should haul major mail!!! I'm excited to see how it will perform with running Shot along with other 'heavy' apps. Shot alone should scream with up to 800 CUDA cores!! I will let you guys know once it gets here and set up.

cubicart
03-13-2012, 03:50 PM
Looks like an awesome setup ... I'm interested in how it performs. I'm going to be looking at a new workstation in the very near future, and I'll definitely be looking at Boxx as a possible source. I'm still debating whether to try building a system also.

andy
03-14-2012, 12:17 PM
I see a couple potential problems with your setup that you may need to address.

HD space is the concern. If you plan on installing more than Shot you may run into problems. Most applications we use have hefty page file sizes. First, your windows page file is equal to your amount of RAM for best performance. Ahhh, that's half your hard drive.

I recommend at least 140GB for your main hard drive if you are running Shot + Adobe Creative Suite.

Photoshop will want at least 4GB of pagefile, and it will run fastest on your SSD.

Also, if you ever plan on doing animations, you might want to spend the extra 50 dollars it takes to upgrade to a larger secondary hard drive. Are you sure that's not SAS? If it's a standard SATA drive then you should be able to at least double the size of the drive for a minimal cost.

With that much rendering power I'd hate to see your bottleneck be HD space and constantly fighting to free up space. I have a 148GB SSD PCI board as my main drive, save no files to the HD and the applications and page files take up 90GB, which is more than twice what you're planning. I have an extra 6GB of RAM, so that accounts for the extra 6gigs, but that's it. And I have my adobe cache/pagefiles on a second drive.

You can do it but I feel strongly that you will be struggling with a 40GB drive.

And lastly, I'd recommend against a quad monitor setup. Dual monitors already introduces some issues with stability. I've only known a few people that went past that and they all went back to 2 after some time. Consider 2 higher resolution monitors. If you are actually running that many apps at once, you'll probably run into even more space/memory problems. Minimizing an application causes it to be paged and saves RAM. Having them open all at once and active, you may run out of RAM pretty quick. I've had a few SHOT files that take up 16GB of memory all by themselves. Just look through the graphics card driver fixes. Often times you'll see more than 2 monitors having unresolved issues for months at a time. It's not that it doesnt work, but adding in more stabiliy issues is always painful. It's something to think about.

haknslash
03-14-2012, 06:34 PM
Thanks Andy for chiming in. You bring some things to definitely consider before submitting my PO. I definitely understand with the page file as I had to have IT install a secondary drive just to try and handle the page file Inventor was creating.

The specs I posted are direct from Boxx so I'm assuming its what it is? It says SATA so I'm going by what they quoted me??

The quad monitor setup is not what it sounds like. My current monitor total is 3. I run dual SyncMaster 24's as my "main monitors" that I work from each and every day. I have a Cintiq 21x that I use as well for Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, Alias and to view a PDf or Word document from time to time without having it take up real estate on my main monitors. The 4th monitor will be used very sparingly but will be needed when it comes time to use my Geomagic or FARO software for reverse engineering and/or CMM probing. It will be mounted a few feet from my desk as the FARO CMM and scanner are mounted to a huge granite plate. Geomagic can be a very 'heavy' program as its dealing with millions of points from a point cloud. It gets really heavy when you actually start the nurb modeling process. I would never try and run Geomagic, Adobe Creative Suite, Inventor Product Design Suite, Shot, etc all at the same time. I don't think there is a machine out there capable of doing such .....well....that I can justify at least :D. Currently I use an HP EliteBook mobile workstation with Nvidia 3800m card that runs nothing but the CMM and Geomagic software. It works but I could use the extra horsepower of the new system, or so that is/was my plan. The 4th monitor is essentually going to replace or act as the LCD display of my ole laptop.

I have forwarded some of your concerns along with a few from my IT department back to Boxx Tech so I'll report back with their solutions or comments. I just want a system that can handle the workload I'm dished out. Thanks for looking out Andy as I will admit I'm far from a super computer savy person when it comes to all the stuff going on behind the scenes in making a high performance computer be the most efficient and robust that it can (given a budget of course :8)!

haknslash
03-14-2012, 09:19 PM
OK after speaking with Boxx folks again on your concerns here is basically what the told me in a nutshell:

The 40GB drive is not accessable by users, seen by Windows, programs installed to, etc. It only acts as a cache drive to remember frequent programs you open and use so that next time they open and load much faster than reading from a HDD.
500GB is what programs and files would install or save to. Currently I have a 300GB HD in my Z800 so having 200GB more to run the same programs I've been using and save files to doesn't seem like a negative issue to me. I suppose if page files do become an issue I could have my IT guys install the same hard drive on my Z800 that was/is dedicated to just page file.

The monitor stuff he didn't see an issue with. Like I mentioned earlier I already run more than 2 monitors at all times and have never experienced any instability issues like you state. Not to say there aren't any possibilites, it's just that I've never experienced them in 3 years with this setup. The Quadro 600 is there to help facilitate the use of 4 monitors splitting some of the load from the 4000. One of the main IT guys at my work has like the great wall of monitors in his office. I think he has at minimum 6 running from one single machine. So I think I'll be OK but I'll report back if we find an issue. He went to his engineering team at Boxx specifically for this when I first was getting quotes and told them of my daily workflow and the need for quad monitors. That's when the Quadro 600 came into the mix.

He did say they offer RevoDrive but after how he explained to me the computer handles itself plus the crazy cost of those, I just couldn't justify spending anywhere from $900-$4200. It would be nice but I'm not sure if its necessary for our needs.

Thankfully they do a 30-day test drive or full refund if I'm not 100% satisfied. So I'll have a month to throw everything I do on a daily basis at it to see if I can find any significant faults or break it. He assured me they build these machines specifically for this type of heavy use and he feels I will like the results I get from it. If not they are more than happy to take it back with no loss on our end.

andy
03-15-2012, 01:55 PM
I've got a Revo drive, and I have to say I was also skeptical of the cost vs. value. After using it a bit, It's definitely worth the time saved (depends on how much someone thinks your time is worth of course). Vs a SAS drive, it was saving me about 30 minutes a day for projects where I was working at 100%. Time saved is mostly due to having to open/close software to free up VRAM. For some reason my computer doesn't like it when I have Premiere, AfterEffects, Illustrator and Photoshop open all at the same time when working with HD files. You quickly turn off Peek and Aero. I assume Boxx turns that stuff off for you to get maximum performance (and less program crashing).
Shot is a pretty VRAM hungry software as well, so when I'm using that, I close anything else. Bouncing between that and photoshop all day, you're constantly opening/closing the software.

It sounds like Boxx has some special way of setting the cache files up for you on that SSD. I've had best results having my programs installed on the revo as Well as the cache files, where I store my files on a 1TB SAS drive. (I didn't choose all the hardware. I just got lucky the IT guy went a little overboard on a few of the specs)

Anyway it sounds like Boxx has it pretty well covered. They do make some pretty beastly machines. As far as I know they support them quite well also.

Oh, and one big downside to the RevoDrive - it takes up a slot that you Could be using another graphics card. I only have 2, and needed USB3 for a couple things, so that took up my last slot after the RevoDrive.....not that i have the power to run another graphics card. That would be an expensive upgrade. Going past 1000Watts gets expensive Real quick.

haknslash
03-15-2012, 02:05 PM
Yea the Revodrive sounds like an awesome setup to go but I just don't want to go back to my upper management with a revised quote...again. I work in corporate environment that loves them some red tape :D

From what I gather the service and support at Boxx is great. So far I would agree with that statement. I have played with a similar spec'd Boxx machine at AU 2011 and it was hauling major butt in the same applications and similar workflow I use. They make a great product and I'm hoping I'll be happy with this machine for at least a few years (corporate typically allows us an upgrade for specific 'power users' every few years or so). If I can increase my productivity by even half I will be happy. Going by the specs of this machine and benchmarks relative to my current machine I should theorhetically see up to 3x improvement across the board in most scenarios. We'll see and fingers crossed :). Thankully I have the 30 day full return to try her out and see what she's about :)

Thanks for your input Andy and I'll give my initial impressions of the machine once it arrives.

-Kenny

haknslash
03-28-2012, 12:57 PM
"It's here" :)

155156

andy
03-28-2012, 05:49 PM
Oh nice. Liquid cooled.
That should be a bit quieter. Mine sounds like a rocket ship every time I render.

david.randle
03-28-2012, 09:03 PM
NIIICE! Enjoy :-)

that's the perfect machine for Maximus BTW. You can read about that in a separate thread.

haknslash
04-09-2012, 06:22 PM
Hi David,

Yea the Maximus technology sounds right up my alley since I do a lot of CAD and post-editing along with all the render and animation fluff. Our IT department guys are still slowly getting my machine loaded with all the company bloat-ware (ugh...but I digress) so I still haven't had a chance to play with the new rig. Is the variable environment something I need to tell IT up front or is this something I can easily change at a later time once my machine gets down here? Thanks!

andy
04-10-2012, 12:19 PM
If you get a chance, log a bunch of work without it, then log how much slower and number of crashes With the bloatware. It's Great ammo for not loading it.

There's nothing worse than some stupid SAP compliance if you don't even use it. If they are willing to spend that much on a machine, why not just have 2 machines. Those cheap ones that the rest of the company use probably only cost about 50 dollars a month. Just run email, msoft suite, etc. on that machine and do your Real work on the Boxx. Sounds easier than it is, I know. I spent a few years dealing with that at my last job. It got even worse when they decided they weren't an IT company so hired IBM to "handle" IT for them. Bad choice. It would probably be ok if you hire that company from the start, but that wasn't the case.

Good luck with your bloatware. Find a few friends in IT. Often times you can get away with disabling half of it, and just enable it once a week for an hour or so to make the system happy.

david.randle
04-10-2012, 01:56 PM
LOL...good advice Andy

As far as the environment variable...you don't have to let IT know about it. You can easily remove it/re-apply it at your own will.

haknslash
04-10-2012, 07:10 PM
Trust me Andy, I understand exactly where you are coming from. As the CAD Manager at my company I have to keep a close relationaship with IT. Over the years I have developed a friendship with both IT Manager and Asst Manager. However due to our holding company, and their fear of losing their job by not followiing procedure, they must load all the bloat. It's not bad but still. We're talking about nearly a 10k machine....and I was sure to remind them of that if/when the stuff hits the fan (you know what I mean). I told them I wanted to do a check on performance prior to them installing anything but they wouldn't even let me connect it on the network...even in a 'safe' environment. But I digress. I have several machines in my office. One dedicated to nothing but CFD and FEA analysis, laptop for FARO CMM and 3D scanner arm, current Z800 for CAD/render/animation. The Boxx machine will replace the Z800 but due to the way I will use it there's unfortunately no way I can by-pass or go around any of the bloatware and securities IT "has" to set in place on group policy. I wish there were another way, believe me I've tried, but I'm only one soldier fighting against an army if you know what I mean :)

Daviv, thanks! That is what I was wondering. IT doesn't mind me doing these things....so long as they don't know haha

haknslash
04-16-2012, 08:27 PM
Woohoo new machine was brought down this morning. Now to install all my crap on it.

Do I need to request a trial of Shot Pro to get the software down or can I download the regular Shot trial and my license will unlock the features of Pro?

Also what do I do about licensing? Is my activation ID going to be the same as it was on my old machine?

Thanks!

david.randle
04-16-2012, 08:44 PM
Install Pro from here: http://installs.bunkspeed.com/BunkspeedPro.exe

As far as the activation id, if you still have your other machine, you should open Pro, go to Tools > Deactivate license. This will free up that license so you can re-use it on your new machine. If you no longer have access to your old machine, email support@bunkspeed.com and we will have to deactive/reactive it for you.

Thanks and enjoy your new system!

haknslash
04-17-2012, 02:17 PM
Hey David,

I deactivated the license from the old machine. I have now downloaded and installed Shot Pro from your link. When I enter in the Activation ID from the old machine I get a FlexNet Licensing Error #-10003 (Unable to Obtain Fulfillment Info). I did say that it recognized I had installed the software on this machine before, even though it has never been installed. I’m guessing that has something to do with how our IT department shares directories or something.

I saw the post about the date and time being out of sync could cause this error however the date and time are correct on the machine.

Brian Muhlbach was in contact with me yesterday so I forward the same info to him with screenshots of the error and activation ID info from the old machine. Hopefully I can get up and going today. Looking forward to trying out the new rig.

Kenny

david.randle
04-17-2012, 04:28 PM
Ok, it could be that when it was deactivated, someone it couldn't reach out to our licensing server properly. Brian was the right guy to contact. i"m sure you'll be up and running in no time.

Thanks

haknslash
04-17-2012, 08:41 PM
Oh My God. This thing is a freaking BEAST running Shot!!!!!

Before I deactivated my license from the old machine I ran some tests on a decent sized project file to give me an apples to apples comparison on CPU and GPU performance. I'm getting like 1000% increase in performance I think!!!

Live raytracing performance on old machine on "project A":
I was getting 3-4 FPS on CPU (3.0GHz)
I was getting 5-7 FPS on GPU (2 Quadro 3800's)

New machine on same project:
8-10 FPS on CPU (4.5GHz)
And a CRAZY 27-31 FPS on GPU (Quadro 4000, 600, Tesla)
It was hauling major butt on the render passes!!!

That's awesome performance and should cut my downtime considerably! I may never have to use render in background again HAH! :)

On a side note they are going to have to put in a 30Amp breaker and 1500w power battery backup just for the Boxx machine lol. It is very quiet though despite having a plethora of fans and cooling system in it. More quiet than my Z800 when it gets spooled up pretty good.

haknslash
01-07-2013, 03:50 PM
Friend of mine on another forum was asking about water cooling his new rig and I took some pictures on my rig to show him the difference from our previous HP Z400, Z600 and Z800's in terms of water cooling.

Anyways I took some pics and figured I'd post them here if anyone is curious how the guts are layed out on a Boxx workstation.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v128/haknslash2003/boxxgutz.jpg

You will notice there are no HDD's visible. Boxx Technologies does a really nice job of making things easy to access. Both my HDD and SATA HD are on the opposite side of the case.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v128/haknslash2003/boxxgutz2.jpg

Battery Backup power supply

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v128/haknslash2003/AE5C5D60-1215-4FF4-ACB1-9E85F801321D-9151-00000844EC8FFC23.jpg

he2000
03-03-2013, 07:49 AM
Nice Rig man... Question, is that Spacepilot any good? A can't live without? or, nice to have item? I'm pretty sick of the 80's tech to steer this stuff.

Thanks.

haknslash
03-03-2013, 02:10 PM
Thanks. The spacepilot pro is pretty nice, control-wise. I do not use the itty bitty screen. Nor do I use most of the buttons as its hard to remember what button does what in a specific application, especially is you customize them. I do use some of the view buttons and a few others. I like the button layout but your hand prevents you from seeing some of them. Lots of muscle memory of where buttons are at since I've had this mouse when the pro launched years ago. It takes time to become proficient with it IMHO.

I used to have the now discontinued spacepilot. I loved the wide display and could actually see what buttons did what, even if customized, because the buttons where placed in location under the corresponding screen space. I was at a conference a few years back and ran into the 3Dconnexion guys. They asks for opinions about their product and I told them their top of the line model is pretty worthless, for me anyways. I mean if I'm staring at a big monitor, or several, who wants to squint their eyes trying to read an email from that itty bitty screen on the 3D mouse. The idea is great.....if you're on a machine with a broken monitor. If thy would of just improved on the spacepilot ergonomics it would of been a keeper. I really wished when they made the pro that they would of just used the stacked display and button style of the spacepilot.

If you want most of the functionality of the spacepilot pro but don't care for the gimmicky display sales tactic, skip it and go with a spacepilot and spaceexplorer. The rest of our guys usually go with the navigator. It's a decent 3D mouse but I like the ergonomics of the larger mice and buttons. The navigator to me is more of something you give someone to view or manipulate views in a 3D package. Very basic but it works.

andy
03-04-2013, 03:51 PM
anyone know if the space pilot bunkspeed crash is still an issue? To test, just have that plugged in and snap your finger against the space pilot so it vibrates. This previously caused an instant crash. Normal use was fine, but if something just knocked into it a little, or someone slammed a stack of books/papers on your desk you crashed. I've had mine uplugged for a while because of that.

Also, if you don't use the buttons, then you can go Way cheaper by getting the standard model. There are still 2 buttons. I use it for 3dsMax quite a bit for positioning cameras quickly. In Rhino you still can't beat targeted windowed zoom navigation. If you are a rhino user and havent changed Ctrl+W to _Zoom _Window _Target then you are missing out. Just add that _T at the end of that line. It zooms to your window, but also changes the camera target point. It's very similar to how Alias navigates, only it only moves the target when you want it to.

If you use ProE you Need an space pilot of some sort. That navigation is Awful. I think someone at 3dconnexion is paying proE to not update it or something. That's the only reason I can come up with it being so terrible.

haknslash
03-04-2013, 07:07 PM
Andy,

Yup if I use the space pilot it will for sure instantly crash Bunkspeed. I wished it would work with it.

Jay325
03-19-2013, 02:07 AM
haknslash can you run bunkspeeds benchmark and let us know what the numbers are?

haknslash
03-20-2013, 11:14 PM
haknslash can you run bunkspeeds benchmark and let us know what the numbers are?

http://forum.bunkspeed.com/showthread.php?514-Any-news-on-Kepler-rendering-yet&p=3418&viewfull=1#post3418