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VFX on Oracle Cloud with NVIDIA

Karthi Subramaniam
Master Principal Cloud Architect

Whether it’s a hobby or profession, VFX modeling is creative work that requires powerful workstations. After you’ve applied all the imagination and creativity needed to create a model, material, lighting, and composition, you need powerful servers to render the final output. Setting up a secure environment for artists to model and render efficiently without breaking the bank used to be a daunting task that required various skills, including network and server administration. Now, Oracle Cloud can help you meet this challenge.

This post provides a step-by-step guide for anyone with no networking or server administration experience to quickly set up a virtual workstation or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to create 3D models using GPUs in Oracle Cloud.

Step 1. Set up a tenancy

Sign up for an Oracle Cloud account and tenancy.

Screenshot that shows the signup page for an Oracle Cloud account.

Figure 1: Sign up for an Oracle Cloud account

After your account and tenancy are provisioned, you will receive an email. Follow the instructions in that email to activate your tenancy. Depending on availability, you might have free credits to start with your first project.

Note: If you sign up with US East (Ashburn) as the home region, you can follow the direct links in this guide to set up components in the Oracle Cloud Console.

Step 2. Set up networking

We have recommended best practices for setting up secure network subnets, resource compartments, user groups, and granular access-control policies for protected workspaces and assets. In this post, let’s use the networking wizard, which minimizes the need for network design and gets us quickly started with setting up the virtual workstation.

  1. After you sign in to the Oracle Cloud Console, follow this direct link to set up a virtual cloud network (VCN) by using the wizard. Or, from the main navigation menu, select Networking, select Virtual Cloud Networks, and then click Start VCN Wizard.

  2. Select VCN with Internet Connectivity.

    Screenshot that shows the Start VCN Wizard page with the VCN with Internet Connectivity option selected.

    Figure 2: VCN wizard

  3. Keep the default options, and enter just a name for the VCN, for example, Vcn1.

    Screenshot that shows the Create a VCN with Internet Connectivity screen.

    Figure 3: Create a VCN with internet connectivity

Step 3. Create a virtual workstation VM

  1. To create an NVIDIA Quadro Virtual Workstation, follow this direct link to access the Windows Server 2019 image in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace. Or, from the main navigation menu in the Console, select Marketplace and then search for the image. Then, click Launch Instance.

    Screenshot of the NVIDIA Quadro Virtual Workstation Windows image in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace.

    Figure 4: NVIDIA Quadro Virtual Workstation Windows image in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace

    Note: If shapes aren’t shown, available, or selectable, you might have to request GPU shapes in your tenancy. See Requesting a Service Limit Increase. GPU resources are under the Compute service.

  2. Keep the default options unless you require a specific shape or availability domain. Ensure that Public Subnet is selected for this trial.

    Note: Using a public subnet is not recommended in production. In production, we recommend keeping the workstation VM in a private subnet and accessing it through IPSec VPN or FastConnect.

    A screenshot that shows the Create Compute Instance screen.

    Figure 5: Create a Compute instance

  3. Click Create. Oracle Cloud starts provisioning the workstation VM. You can track the progress under Work Requests.

    A screenshot that shows the Work Requests screen and the percentage complete for the VM provisioning.

    Figure 6: Track the creation the VM

  4. After the VM is provisioned, note the public IP address, username, and password that are displayed on the instance details page. They are required to connect to the VM through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

    A screenshot that shows the instance details page with the public IP address, username, and password values highlighted.

    Figure 7: Instance details needed for remote connection

Step 4. Configure security rules

For our customers’ protection, Oracle Cloud resources are locked by default unless a customer’s tenancy administrator opens up specific access.

  1. To allow remote desktop connectivity, click the Public Subnet link in the VM’s instance details page.

    A screenshot that shows the instance details page with the subnet link highlighted.

    Figure 8: Public subnet link for the VM instance

  2. On the subnet details page, under Security Lists, click Default Security List.

    A screenshot that shows the subnet details page with the default security list link highlighted.

    Figure 9: Default security list on the subnet page for the VM instance

  3. Click Add Ingress Rules.

    A screenshot that shows the default security list details page with Add Ingress Rules button highlighted.

    Figure 10: Add ingress rules to the default security list

  4. Add a rule to allow TCP port 3389 for remote access to the VM.

    A screenshot that shows the Add Ingress Rules dialog box, with CIDR block 0.0.0.0/0 specified for TCP port 3389.

    Figure 11: Add an ingress rule for remote VM access

    Note: Specifying a source IP address (CIDR) as 0.0.0.0/0 allows any device to connect to this subnet and VMs created in that subnet. You can specify your public IP address instead. In that case, the source IP format would be w.x.y.z/32.

    A screenshot that shows the default security list details page with the new ingress rules highlighted.

    Figure 12: New ingress rule for remote VM access

Step 5. Connect by using Remote Desktop

  1. In your RDP tool, add the workstation VM that you created by specifying its public IP address.

    A screenshot that shows the Add PC dialog box in Microsoft Remote Desktop.

    Figure 13: Add the VM to Remote Desktop

  2. When you connect to the workstation, enter the user name opc and the one-time password that you noted in Step 3.

    A screenshot that shows the credentials dialog box for accessing the VM remotely.

    Figure 14: Enter credentials for remote VM access

Step 6. Install Blender

After connecting to the VM through Remote Desktop, open a browser in the workstation to download and install Blender.

A screenshot that shows the Blender download page.

Figure 15: Blender download page

Step 7. Start rendering

To ensure that GPUs are recognized in the Blender app, select Edit, then Preferences, and then System. Under Cycles Render Devices, click CUDA.

A screenshot that shows the Blender system preferences page with four Tesla V100 GPUs selected.

Figure 16: Blender system preferences

As you render, you can see that the GPUs are being used, as highlighted in the following image.

A screenshot that shows a rendered image with a PowerShell window open over it, displaying attached GPU information.

Figure 17: Using GPUs during rendering. Image source and credit: https://cloud.blender.org/p/gallery/57e5084f0fcf294119c5055c; Artist: Juri Unt.

You can also use CPUs to render, as shown in the following image.

A screenshot that shows a rendered image with CPU information displayed.

Figure 18: Using CPUs during rendering. Image source and credit: https://svn.blender.org/svnroot/bf-blender/trunk/lib/benchmarks/cycles/barbershop_interior/

Production environment

In production, a VFX VDI modeling and rendering environment in Oracle Cloud looks as follows, at a high level.

A diagram that shows a VFX VDI modeling and rendering environment in Oracle Cloud, with customer sites connecting to Oracle Cloud.

Figure 19: VFX VDI modeling and rendering environment in Oracle Cloud

Learn more

View all the NVIDIA GPU shapes available on Oracle Cloud.

Learn more about HPC on Oracle Cloud.

Join Oracle Cloud at NVIDIA’s GTC 2020 digital event October 5–9. Check out the following sessions to learn best practices and how to take advantage of the flexibility and scalability of the cloud, all at a leading price:

You can schedule a 1:1 meeting with our GPU cloud experts through our sponsor page. We look forward to “seeing” you there!

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