The PhotoView 360 rendering tool in SolidWorks can produce some astounding photo realistic renders. However large, high quality renders don’t happen instantaneously. In fact a large render of a highly complex model could take hours to complete, even on a very powerful system. PhotoView 360 users have always been able to set up SolidWorks to schedule renders to run un-attended at times that they are not at their workstations, but now with SolidWorks 2013 they can take advantage of the processing power of other computers on their office network during this downtime as well, sharing the processing load across multiple systems.
The SolidWorks 2013 installation manager includes a small, standalone utility called the SolidWorks Network Rendering Client. This program can be installed on any computer running Windows Vista or newer, it doesn’t matter if SolidWorks has been installed on the system or not. The Network Rendering Client doesn’t take up a SolidWorks activation, however it will require a valid SolidWorks serial number with a current subscription contract to install.
The Render Client must be running and in client mode to assist with network renders. You can either enter Client Mode manually, or you can schedule systems to automatically enter Client Mode during a specified, such as after the work day has finished.
To use the network clients when scheduling a render in SolidWorks, you will need to enable the Network Rendering setting in the PhotoView 360 Options. The “Client workload” setting determines how many buckets (these are graphically shown in the Final Render dialogue as the boxes that render small sections of the image in sequence, orange boxes are being rendered by the local processor, blue ones by the network clients) are sent to each Client processor. The default setting is 200%, this would mean that 2 buckets are sent per processor core. If the systems that you are installing the Network Rendering Client on are older or lighter performance systems (Core 2 Duos or i3 processors), you will not want to exceed that 200% load. However if you have access to more powerful systems (i5, i7 or Xeon workstations), give them a higher load to maximize the potential of your rendering farm.
Not all situations will call for network rendering to be used. Network renders take much longer to start up than a render on the local system, so if you’re just rendering a simple model that would take your machine only a few minutes to render, it’s best to leave network rendering off. The same goes for renders that require a lot of preprocessing, such as renders with many lights, reflections and refractions (you can check the preprocessing time by going to the Statistics tab of the Final Render window). Also the speed of your network and the power of the available client systems, can drastically affect whether or not using a network rendering farm is really a viable idea for you.
Once you have everything set up, simply launch the Final Render or Schedule Render command, as you would for a local render.