I'm trying to specify the build for a new PC, my current one is 5 years old and starting to show its age. It's going to be a multi-use machine for Gaming, Virtualisation, Coding, Blender and possibly even VR (Rift). Because of the shift to the cycles renderer I was thinking of going SLI (for the first time) so that I could dedicate one GPU to Cycles and leave the other for X. This would still give me an excellent gaming rig if I used, for example, 2x Geforce GTX 960 (4GB).

Now that I've started to look into the build, I see that the Intel Skylake CPU's also include an OpenGL capable GPU, e.g. the Intel HD 530, in the Core i5-6600, which is OpenGL 4.4, HLSL 5.1 and DX12 compatible.

My question is whether I could run Blender (on Linux) using just the Intel HD graphics for the X session (with OpenGL for Blender) and then dedicate a single Nvidia GPU for Cuda (for Cycles rendering). The Blender system requirements only state a need for OpenGL 3.2 [OK], but the Intel specs don't specify how much VRAM is available - Blender requires between 512M and 4G. The Intel spec sheets are very vague about Video Memory, a couple of sources quote 64MB or 128MB eDRAM so I assume the actual VRAM is borrowed from system memory but I can't find a solid figure for how much is available.

Does anyone have an Intel Skylake Core i5-6600 processor running Blender without a dedicated GPU? Or better with a GPU that is dedicated to Cuda/Cycles?

  • $\begingroup$ I have heard many horror stories about SLI , the double card GPU whether Nvidia or AMD is not really well supported, most often you will want to stick with a powerful single card it should suffice. You are paying for a technology that is bleeding edge ... so at the edge that causes you too bleed too.... lol $\endgroup$
    – hawkenfox
    Jan 11 '16 at 3:45

You can definitely do this. My son has an Ubuntu Desktop:

$ cat /etc/lsb-release

And this graphics card specifically:

$ lshw -c video
       description: VGA compatible controller
       product: HD Graphics 530
       vendor: Intel Corporation
       physical id: 2
       bus info: pci@0000:00:02.0
       version: 06
       width: 64 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: pciexpress msi pm vga_controller bus_master cap_list rom
       configuration: driver=i915 latency=0
       resources: irq:134 memory:f6000000-f6ffffff memory:e0000000-efffffff ioport:f000(size=64) memory:c0000-dffff

He's able to render cars for NR2003 using this setup.


NOTE: The render times can be long he constantly lets me know that they can take 1-2hrs but it is doable.

CPU Info

Here's his CPU info too just in case.

$ lscpu
Architecture:                    x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):                  32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:                      Little Endian
Address sizes:                   39 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
CPU(s):                          4
On-line CPU(s) list:             0-3
Thread(s) per core:              2
Core(s) per socket:              2
Socket(s):                       1
NUMA node(s):                    1
Vendor ID:                       GenuineIntel
CPU family:                      6
Model:                           94
Model name:                      Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-6100 CPU @ 3.70GHz
Stepping:                        3
CPU MHz:                         800.052
CPU max MHz:                     3700.0000
CPU min MHz:                     800.0000
BogoMIPS:                        7399.70
Virtualization:                  VT-x
L1d cache:                       64 KiB
L1i cache:                       64 KiB
L2 cache:                        512 KiB
L3 cache:                        3 MiB
NUMA node0 CPU(s):               0-3

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