This compact box of tricks has one role and one role only. To process network rendering jobs, leaving your single CPU workstation free to get on with other tasks.
And it does it very well. With two 2.2GHz Xeon E5 2660 CPUs, there is a total of 16 cores and 32 threads to chomp through ray trace renders. This is all backed up with 32GB ECC memory and a 120GB SSD. It costs £3,150.
Unlike a traditional render node, the RS-D2850 sits on top of a workstation, making it suitable for small architectural firms who do not want to invest in a dedicated rack.
For our tests, our partner WSX6 V2 workstation (p32) was connected via Gigabit Ethernet with 3ds Max rendering jobs managed by Autodesk backburner. It ripped through our 5,000 x 3,000 pixel render in two thirds the time it took the six core 4.3GHz Core i7 machine but, with all fans at full pelt, did make quite a noise.
With a combined cost of over £6,500, buying both machines is not cheap. But there are clear advantages over a dual Xeon workstation. One, being able to render without taking a hit on modelling productivity, and two, being able to share the render resource with others. Overall, it is niche, but well worth a look if you’re serious about rendering.