Thinking About Processor Cores and Memory

The decision about how much RAM you get for each of your render nodes is absolutely critical to the success of your project.  This article details why and how to think about how much RAM you really need.
Some of my customers think that 4GB of RAM is plenty for their computer.  In the world of visual effects, that's almost nothing to work with if you plan to create content that's competitive in the industry.  We also see our customers saying they need (say) 32 GB of RAM, but in their renders we see the memory requirements well exceeding that.
Much of the problem has to do with understanding Intel Hyperthreading.  Basically, Hyperthreading doubles the number of physical cores.  So, for example a render node that has 16 physical cores, has 32 logical cores available to render with when Hyperthreading is enabled.
With Hyperthreading enabled, you will get a performance boost in many cases, but you really need twice the RAM that you originally budgeted on for those extra logical cores to be used efficiently.
So, the advice we are giving to our customers is to get 64GB of RAM per render node for most projects, and if you want to do anything more advanced, get at least 128GB of RAM.  You will be so grateful if you do.
Of course, you can always contact us to talk about what types of projects you will be doing, and we can give you some guidance at any time.  Remember, count on needing twice as much RAM as you originally think you need to take advantage of Intel Hyperthreading.  The cost of RAM is inexpensive, and one of the most critical considerations you make when purchasing such an important piece of equipment.
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