Creating Limits Just Got Easier!

Version: Deadline 10.0.9 and later.

Introduction

Deadline’s Limit system has been traditionally used to manage two types of farm assets: Licenses and Resources. If you are new to Limits in Deadline, we recommend checking out this previous blog entry, which provides a step-by-step guide on how to use them. Deadline 10.0.9 is introducing the concept of a Limit “type” to explicitly underline the type of assets being managed. This makes the creation, configuration and navigation of Limits more straightforward. In this blog entry, we will introduce the concepts of a License Limit and a Resource Limit, and how to use them.

What is a License Limit?

Typically, Limits in Deadline have been used to regulate the use of floating licenses, and to prevent licensing errors when those licenses are depleted. This ensures the farm operates in a healthy state and leads to a better job performance. As the name implies, a License Limit in Deadline is used to manage license resources. For example, if the number of render nodes is higher than the available floating licenses, a License Limit ought to be used to prevent the render farm from surpassing the budget of licenses. License Limits are also required to enable 3rd party Usage Based Licensing (UBL) on the farm.

What is a Resource Limit?

Limits in Deadline can be used for more than just licenses, and this is one of the reasons why Deadline is introducing the concept of a Resource Limit. Formally, a Resource Limit is used in Deadline to manage non-license resources. For instance, a possible use case could be to restrict the number of render nodes that access a specific file server during rendering.

Visualizing Limits in the Limits Panel

Limits with different types can be loaded side by side in the Limits Panel in the Deadline Monitor. The new Limit Type column indicates the Limit’s type, as shown in the image below. To open the Limits panel, select Main Menu -> View -> New Panel -> Limits, or alternatively select Main Toolbar -> Panels -> Limits. If no Limits were previously created, the Limits panel will be empty.

limits_limits_panel.png

The Limit Type column can be used to sort Limits with respect to their types by simply clicking on it. This is a quick way to group Limits with the same type together for better visualization. To exclusively view Limits with a particular type, use the new Limit Type quick filter, and deselect the Limit type you want to hide.

Hands on Limits

Creating new Limits can be done from the Monitor while in Super User Mode. Activate this mode in the Monitor by selecting Main Menu -> Tools -> Super User Mode. One way to proceed to is to right-click anywhere in Limits panel and select which Limit type to create. The exact same options are also accessible by clicking on the [+] button in the Limits panel menu bar.

How to Create a License Limit?

Let’s use an example. Say we have a 20 node farm and only 10 floating licenses of Nuke (TM). As farm managers, we are responsible for preventing contention over the sparse licenses in our farm. In this case, we proceed by creating a License Limit for Nuke jobs to ensure the farm doesn’t use more than 10 Nuke licenses simultaneously.

Use the Create New License Limit option mentioned above, check the Enable Existing Licenses Usage option, toggle the License Count option, and set the Limit counter to 10.

To ensure that every Nuke job has this License Limit applied, you can use the Set Limits button in the Nuke Plugin Configuration, and add the newly created Limit to the list.

In addition, if you were using Nuke Usage Based Licensing (UBL), you would enable the Use Usage Based Licensing option and set the UBL application and count. UBL is an on-demand licensing model that can be used for Deadline, as well as select 3rd Party applications. UBL is out of scope for this blog entry, so please refer to the Usage Based Licensing documentation for more information.

Finally, you may have noticed that the Release At Task Progress option isn’t available when creating a License Limit, and that’s because this option was never applicable to license-related assets.

How to Create a Resource Limit?

Let’s use another example. Say we’ve done some analysis on the network traffic of the farm while rendering our Autodesk ® Maya ® simulation jobs. The data demonstrates that in order to prevent network congestion, we should be limiting the number of Maya instances that simultaneously load the data cache to 5. However, once the cache is loaded, it doesn’t matter how many Maya instances are actually rendering.

Use the Create New Resource Limit option mentioned above, and set the Resource Count to 5. The tests have shown that once the tasks for our Maya jobs report a progress of 5%, the cache has been fully loaded, so we enable the Release At Task Progress option and set the counter to 5.0%. This ensures that only 5 instances of Maya are in the cache loading stage, but then after that, this Limit gets released, which allows any number of instances to be in the rendering stage.

Finally, you may have noticed that the UBL-related options are not available when creating a Resource Limit, and that’s because these options were never applicable to non-license-related assets.

What About my Existing Limits?

Any Limits created in Deadline 10.0.8 or earlier will still appear in the Limits panel and function as normal. In fact, if the existing Limit has any License related options enabled, it will automatically be shown as a License Limit; otherwise it will be shown as a Resource Limit. Other than the new type and the updated Limit creation windows, nothing has actually changed. In addition, all existing operations on Limits like CloneResetDeleteCopy, and Modify are still supported for both License and Resource Limits!

Conclusion

Limits in Deadline 10 are no longer generic, and by defining specific types, Deadline can tailor the Limit creation process to the types of assets you are restricting access to. That’s what makes the new system simpler to use: you only need to worry about the settings that are applicable to the Limit type you are creating.

Last but not least, this work would never be possible without the useful and honest feedback from our customers, and we always encourage you to share your feedback with us. Thank you!

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