vSwarm : online RenderFarm for free – Review

vswarm_logo

What is vSwarm ?

vSwarm is an online free RenderFarm based on distributed calculation for 3d rendering (as today for Blender and LuxRender, but more to comes).

What is Distributed Calculation ?

The idea behind it is really simple : sharing the CPU & Memory power of your computer which you are not being used. Everything is based on the priority of task (normal, low, … ).

For instance, if you are using Photoshop which runs as “normal priority” and use 70% of your CPU, then there is still 30% unused which another software with “low priority” could take advantage of. Meaning the software running with “normal priority” will be able to request any amount of CPU power it needs at any time while the “low priority” software will only take what is left !

That’s why this kind of Distributed Calculation will not slow down your computer ever !

Understanding vSwarm :

vSwarm is separated on two partsSharing CPU” and “Submitting Jobs“. You can do just one of those or both or them. If you are only submitting jobs, of course there is a catch! By “Sharing CPU” you can get a better vSwarm Priority” Level. The vSwarm Priority Level let your submitted jobs being doing faster or even before other people that has a higher Priority Level (the goal is to be in the first one).

So it is recommended to Share your CPU as much as you can. Plus think about it, more CPU are shared, faster the job gets done. And as I said earlier, it is not going ot slow down your computer so why not doing it ?

vSwarm Client :

vSwarm client running jobs
vSwarm client running jobs

After you have register on vSwarm, you will be able to download the Client and install it.
Everything is pretty simple! For it’s first run vSwarm Client will ask for your login & password. You’ll also able to choose some setting as the priority (low or normal as mention above – I recommend low if you don’t want to slow down your computer), how many CPU it could use and how much memory.

All you have to do then is to click on “Start Working”. The client will download job from vSwarm server, process the job and then upload the result back to the server ! VoilĂ , nothing more.

By running the Client you will process job of others which as been submitted or even yours :)

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vSwarm Web Control Center :

vSwarm web control center
vSwarm web control center

On this webpage you will be able to :

  • Create Jobs
  • Manage Jobs
  • Manage Files (file to render, render,…)
  • Managing your computer which are sharing CPU
  • Check your statistics (vSwarm Priority, # of rendering time, # of CPU used time, … )

To submit a job, you will first have to upload the files, for instance your .blend file if you are using blender.
You can upload files directly on the Control center or even by FTP


Conclusion :

At this time, vSwarm still in early stage of Alpha, and doesn’t support much renderer. So hopefuly many will come soon. But beside that it is really super simple to use, and I like the idea behind it “more you’ll give, more you’ll get in return
For me the downside for now is that the Virtual Machine used by the client to render the scene are not encrypted yet, so rendering scene which are case to NDA could be an issue. But I think they are working on that as well.

Usually people like CG Artists, Video Game Players, Programmers, … have really powerful computer and most of the time this power is not even used at half of its potential which is somehow energy wasted (icore 7 only to check your e-mail online is pretty sick ;) ). So this could be a great solution to use the power of your computer for good. Plus as I understand, the vSwarm team is thinking about a buisness model in future where people sharing CPU would get paid ! another good reason to do it ! GO FOR IT JOIN !!!

NB : Many other services online is working on the same principle oriented more for science and medical research. I’ll talk about it in another post