RealSpace Company & Technology Blog

Cloud Computing and Render Farms in Architectural Modeling: The Basics

Aug. 30, 2018

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Modern day architectural plans are no longer done with only pen and paper. Different architectural models often accompany today’s construction projects. These models, both for marketing and construction purposes, use computer-aided design (CAD). CAD helps architects to simulate certain conditions or try design prototypes without physical risks.

In addition, this technology allows architectural firms to give clients marketing material. This is often used for projects that are yet to be constructed, which gives potential buyers an idea of what to expect. Architectural rendering companies like RealSpace 3D focus on models using CAD. These companies create hyper-realistic images and models that serve both aesthetic and functional purposes.

                With this knowledge of what CAD can do, one may ask, “How is this possible?”. How does CAD use data points and transform that information into a realistic image?

                The answer lies in cloud computing and render farms.

Basics about Cloud Computing and Render Farms

                Cloud computing and render farms may sound like something out of a foreign language. However, we will discuss these concepts and elaborate on what they give to the architectural modeling scene.

                To start off, let’s talk about render farms. When you hear the word ‘farm’, one may think of crops or barn animals. That kind of farm is different from the render farm context.

What is Render Farm

                Render farms are, in its most basic form, a network of computers. In this network, there are two types of computers: a computer that executes tasks it’s given, and a computer that gives the jobs that are to be executed.

                The number of computers that execute a task are called nodes. The number of nodes are often larger than that of the task-giving computer. One could think of the set-up not unlike an office job: A supervisor hands out and monitors each task to his employees, where each employee rushes to finish his/her task as accurately and as soon as possible. The output of the processes which these computers do is then ‘harvested’—thus the name ‘render farm’.

                Render farms are often confused with supercomputers. However, the main difference is that a supercomputer is a computer specifically designed for a certain purpose. These make supercomputers an expensive investment as they are created solely for the scope of the project to be worked on.

                Noting that, render farms are often used by start-up rendering and visual arts businesses. A render farm can be started with even just one computer and add more when business is doing well. This makes it the most cost-effective option.

                Your render farm can either be home-built, where several physical computers are used for the process. A more stable version is using a cloud or data-centered based render farm. These render farms use servers from datacenters—perfect for businesses that don’t want to bother with tech issue.

However, render farms come at a price. Although the costs aren’t as high as building a supercomputer, they aren’t dirt cheap either. Businesses still have to purchase licensing for render farms software. This could set you back around $4,000 for the software, with each node around $400. For those that prefer to use cloud-base solutions, one can use a number of online render farm services. The prices for these services are usually priced per frame, and depend on the number and quality of computers you choose.

                This is possible with one of the latest technological practices today: cloud computing.

What is Cloud Computing

Cloud computing uses Internet-hosted remote network servers to store and process data. This eliminates the need for a local server or a physical computer.

                Anything based in the internet is essentially cloud computing. Storing your documents in Google Drive? Uploading your pictures in Instagram? Creating a spreadsheet with Excel Online? Those are possible due to the cloud.

                 Cloud computing is much cheaper than its traditional counterparts. In the case of render farms, cloud computing allows companies to save more. Home-built render farms require a license for each personal computer that is being used—a costly process.

                Cloud computing allows virtual arts and effects businesses to outsource their rendering. Not only is it cheaper, it’s more convenient for them as well. Rendering takes time, so while the cloud service renders your project for you, you could do other productive things. Whereas with home-built render farms, you have to consider your electric and other maintenance expenses as well.

                Using cloud-based render farms allows different virtual arts companies, both big and small, to produce a variety of 2D and 3D outputs we can enjoy today. In addition, budding architects that specialize in architectural modeling can create their portfolios with affordable services like this.

                Whether you’re a large architectural firm or an architecture student, architectural models aren’t just a product of your hard work and creativity, but from technological advances as well. These details are behind the successful rendering of your project to its final form.

                Do you use cloud-based or home-built render farms? Let us know in the comments and tell us which you prefer better!

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